Uniting Conservatives: May Not Be What You Think
by Larry Perrault on March 17, 2014 at 11:31 AM
For some time now, almost all talk of the GOP has referred to a division between “establishment” and “tea party” camps. And there certainly has been contention with some considering tea party forces impractical and others considering establishment forces too conciliatory and ineffective in representing and advancing conservative ideals. And though there are obvious characters on each side, the lines are not entirely clear in the party. In The Senate for instance, name a handful on either side, and it's more ambiguous for most of the rest. But while we are uniting conservatives, we should also include libertarians who have some voice in Rand Paul who won the votes of the largely younger people at the CPAC conference. And yes, there are a number of those younger voters who feel like America’s finances are out of hand but often are dissenters to the general conservative postures on what are called the social issues; notably it seems, homosexual marriage. And those called “social” conservatives,” are assertively on the other side of that and other social questions while they usually also incline to be fiscally conservative.
I’ll identify myself upfront. I could probably be accurately described as allied with tea party and social conservative elements. I am a Christian and that defines both fiscal and social modesty, homosexual marriage being anything but modest, recklessly redefining the most foundational building block of human society from its beginning. Soaked in the sermonizing of poorly grounded people in media and education, young people are a tad hasty about playing with the foundations of social structure. Should this impetuous sentiment take deep root, society will surely be weakened in the development of its youth and obviously in its physical flourishing, which is already in a fade as are so many nations in the world today. No one says that people with a disposition toward homosexuality oughtn’t have the same rights as anyone else. And no one is interfering with their choice of behavior. But none of us have a right to redefine social institutions for the entire population. Besides, a path that limits some of the most weighty elements of life, though it is permitted, ought not be encouraged. And also, rarely considered is that such a rewriting of law would be invitation to enormous expense of time, treasure and energy on litigation and accommodation in places that can’t be numbered. As for our fiscal follies, the self-centered shortsightedness of irresponsible spending and debt is entirely predictable in a society that has assimilated the idea that the life of its own unborn offspring is a mere matter of perceived convenience.
I came across this article suggesting libertarians should not align with social conservatives, who after all want to control your life, forbid gay marriage and make abortion illegal, right? And some Republicans think social issues should be spurned, ignored or at least de-emphasized. Libertarians can’t live with social conservatives and vice-versa. Establishment Republicans can’t live with the tea party, and vice versa. More establishment Republicans say everyone agrees on objectives, but disagree only on tactics. Personally from the other side, I agree with that. I think they are generally sincere about their ideals. It’s their tactics exactly that I think are pathetic and unlikely to achieve our objectives. They say they must win elections. But I don’t think being tentative and ambiguous makes you more likely to win elections. People support conviction about a clear message, and dedication to it, especially when you are peddling true ideals and not supposed goodies that only diminish society’s freedom and function. Republicans should advocate for what we claim is truth at every possible turn, believing that truth has a power beyond just any product on the market.
Some Republicans are inclined to support an assertive foreign policy to advance democracy and human rights. Some are more inclined to be non-interventionist in foreign affairs. Some Republicans seem more animated by social stability and slowing the pace of change. And some aspires to a fixed standard of values, even though those have been progressively abandoned for many decades, and it seems brazenly so today. So what’s the secret to uniting these in their campaigning? What can they campaign together on? It’s a very oldie, but a very goodie. We should recall that the spectrum of American founders included the more Deistic like Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin on over to many clergy that included Catholics and many Protestant denominations. Paine disdained most all religious organizations and doctrine beyond a liberty privacy sanctioning God. Jefferson and Franklin affirmed the social value of worship, but weren’t specific to a dogma. The clergy of course held to that of their specific church. The thirteen original colonies had different churches and in fact most had established churches (‘religions” at the time actually referred to different Christian doctrines and liturgies).
What this broad spectrum agreed on as a nation is the liberty described in The Constitution that became the fundamental American law that protected all of their beliefs. And as Democrats tear at dwindling pieces of it, that constitutional standard is what should unite Republicans. Consider someone like me. Contrary to what the article above supposes to libertarians, as a social conservative I don’t want the federal government to prosecute abortion or ban homosexual marriage. I would support a Congressional resolution that abortion is killing. But the federal government neither should or could police and sanction abortion. I’d oppose the practice in my state and even favor commerce with other states who respected life. But it would be ridiculous for the federal government to pursue such a local matter. It would not change the local ethos and in fact probably encourage reaction. And states who wanted it would not comply anyway. I think there are long-term adverse social consequences to social acceptance of uninhibited abortion. Let states that choose it, live with them.
Similarly, I don’t think the federal government should have anything to do with marriage except to protect a state free from the rulings of other states. One state should not be bound by the practice of another. As for federal partnership benefits, a person should be able to assign them to any one other person including a friend or relative, though there might be a minimum period and a maximum number of changes. Establishment and tea party Republicans might debate how to pursue them, but hopefully they will agree on a constitutional ideal. I‘ll put it this way: if you don’t accept that ideal, I don’t want to unite with you. All conservatives should campaign on and pursue restoring a constitutional standard.