Friday, October 15, 2010


"Tea Partiers are loathe to discuss social issues, but it's obvious that the vast majority are neo-cons who want big government to ban any social practice that they disapprove of--anything gay, any recreational drugs they don't like, the broadcast of any material they find offensive, etc."

One of the big arguments which broke out during the 2008 election season between various movements on the right was about social conservatives and how awful they are. Libertarians and hard core fiscal conservatives (those who are socially liberal and effectively just libertarians) consider social conservatives the bane of the movement. Some are so vitriolic and filled with hatred its hard to trust their judgment about any fiscal matters as well.

Social Conservatives are seen to be the reason that Democrats took over so much, it was Bush's social conservatism that enraged the public, they argue. It was stunts like the congressional meeting during the Terry Schiavo affair which turned voters against the GOP. This, of course, misses the vast mountains of fiscal malfeasance such as TARP and the medicare prescription drug bill by the GOP which annoyed its base, but they cling to the idea anyway.

Leftists and some moderates fear social conservatives as well, equating them with the Taliban. Why, they want to stop us from having fun! Viewed as killjoys, extremists who want to use the law to impose some religious code on the nation, Social Conservatives are political pariahs.

Libertarians, meanwhile, are freaked out by the awful specter of those horrible Social Conservatives who dare believe things which might be perceived as taking fun away from dudes around the country, man. Tunku Vadarajan writes at the Daily Beast:
Personally, I would love to see Paladino and O’Donnell lose, since they've distracted attention from the small-government message by adding in their own social conservatism and cultural weirdness. Republican primary voters need to be reminded to be more grownup, and practical.
In the end, he says libertarians ought to vote for these kind of candidates just to beat the even-worse Democrats, but the fear of Social Conservatives persists. The Tea Party movement is seen as a remedy to the religious right, wresting the GOP away from their Bible-thumping hands and putting it back on course toward fiscal issues.

Yet the reality is that social conservatism is nothing like its portrayed by the legacy media and the left - and this includes many libertarians (social leftists). According to a study by the Public Religion Research Institute, almost half of Tea Party members self identify as being on the religious right. Its likely even more are, but were hesitant to admit this to a stranger or don't answer polls. The religious right is still out there, its just focused on fiscal issues at the moment because they are more immediately traumatic and frustrating to most people.

Being a Social Conservative - even when I was otherwise leftist I was socially conservative - I can tell you that we're not interested in making you stop having fun or passing laws to force women to take off their shoes and stay in the kitchen. Most of us believe laws are of no use whatsoever to bringing greater ethical righteousness into the country, and think that the government is one of the worst possible tools for cultural reform.

What we are mostly concerned about is social and ethical corrosion. We feel like someone standing at the edge of a crumbling cliff saying "this has to stop HERE or we're all lost!" Social Conservatives don't want more laws about morality, we want fewer laws opposing ethical righteousness. We're watching things go to hell and screaming "For the love of God STOP!!!" Proposition 8 wasn't a new law to impose morality, it was a wall to stop the loss of morality. The general public happens to agree with most of what we're saying too, as it turns out.

Every time someone tries to legalize gay "marriage" it is opposed by a large majority of the voters even in very leftist states like California. When people are asked about abortion, the greater majority recoils at the idea of unlimited abortion on demand and wants fewer of them to be done.

The truth is, it is the left who wants to impose more laws and regulations to make you do what they think is right, not Social Conservatives. The left tells you what lightbulbs you can and cannot use, what food you can and cannot eat, how much salt you can have, what washing machines are acceptable, how big your toilet can be, how much force your shower can have, how your child must dress while riding a bicycle and on and on and on. The right does not push for these laws.

Every time the nanny state forces you to do something or stops you from doing something else, that's the left, not the right. Social Conservatives aren't telling farmers to stop kicking up so much dust, the religious right isn't forcing restaurants to provide detailed nutritional information of a minimum font size for every single dish they offer.

Sure, there are some isolated weirdos on the right who want to create an Old Testament law system and impose all their ideas through the power of the state, but I wouldn't actually characterize them as conservative because they reject small government constitutional principles. I know its a lot easier to just believe the idiotic caricature the left hands you about Social Conservatives, but we're all around you. Just ask us.

So when you scream about those crazy Social Conservatives remember: we believe this is a matter of conscience, and that the government has no business telling you what is right and wrong, only punishing people for doing wrong so great it causes significant harm to culture and members of society - like rape and theft.

We'd just appreciate it if the people driving the culture would stop steering for the cliff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Christopher. Very well said.