Somehow, We End Up Back At Social Conservatism

The 2012 GOP Presidential race has seemed to me to be eerily similar to the 2010 Georgia GOP Gubernatorial run-off between Karen Handel and Nathan Deal. Despite the TEA Party trying to take the reigns of various races and actually introduce some accountability of elected officials to the constituents, it came back to abortion.

From my view, it just seemed like what Georgia Right to Life and die-hard Nathan Deal supporters were saying that droves of unborn children would be slaughtered by Planned Parenthood under a Karen Handel gubernatorial administration. (The irony is seeing many of the same people that were slamming Karen over abortion in 2010 are now praising her in 2012 for her stance with Susan G. Komen, but that’s another blog post.)

A rational person should have seen through that false arguement, but rather than talking about how we can bring jobs to Georgia, cutting the budget effectively while still being able to provide services to citizens, and reforming our education system, the GOP run-off instantly took a dive into the abortion debate.*

Fast forward to today and the 2012 GOP Presidential Primary. Rather than the TEA Party being able to flex their muscle and create awareness as they did in 2010, we’re now discussing a lot of social conservative issues. I do have similar beliefs in the social conservative area and not saying they’re not important issues, but I believe we need to ask ourselves on whether or not this should be a top priority.

We have a federal budget, or the lack thereof, that’s monstrous, a national debt that’s growing like bamboo, and federal powers that are continuing to expand all the time. Why are we more concerned about contraception (for the record, abortion isn’t contraception) than we are Cap, Cut, and Balance? I believe some in the media that are trying to get the Republicans off-message by using red meat social conservative issues as bait.

We shouldn’t fall into this trap no matter how many easy brownie points we can get. All four Republican candidates should focus on fiscal matters, discuss ways they would reduce the size of the federal government, and just point out the flaws and problems of the Obama administration. I believe that once we get our fiscal house in order, we can begin to look at tackling some of the social issues.

 

*Note: I don’t have anything against Governor Deal. I believe he’s done a pretty good job so far as governor.

51 comments

  1. debbie0040 says:

    My main concerns: Fiscal responsibility, Limited government, adhere to the Constitution, JOBS, JOBS. I am a strong social conservative but am more concerned about the issues above.

  2. PegM says:

    I’m not electing a pope or preacher…let’s stick to the issues of fiscal responsiblity, less government, economy and following the constitution. We must rid ourselves of the current placeholder to save this nation.

  3. wicker says:

    The problem is that just as a lot of fiscal conservatives aren’t socially conservative, a lot of social conservatives either aren’t fiscally conservative, or are not as motivated or energized to go to the polls – let alone contribute or volunteer – by fiscal issues as they are economic ones. Trying to dictate to people the issues that they SHOULD care about isn’t going to accomplish anything but drive them away.

    There are two things that you have to realize.
    1. A lot of blue collar white voters in the south and midwest (basically who we are talking about here) were New Deal Democrats who only started voting Republican when and because of their reaction to the 60s and 70s social liberal movement. And they didn’t start voting Republican right away either, mind you. When socially moderate (or socially liberal) Republicans like Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford – and similar candidates at the Senate, Congress, governor etc. – ran, they kept voting Democrat, especially since back then there were still plenty of socially conservative Democrats. It wasn’t until Reagan gave them a socially conservative option in the GOP, and a lot of social conservatives left the Democratic Party for the GOP in the south and midwest, that they started voting for the GOP. Take the social conservative component away from the GOP, and these former New Deal Democrats – who were never principled, consistent fiscal conservatives to begin with – will likely just stay at home.

    2. A lot of social conservatives honestly believe that the root cause of our economic problems is the moral decay. That isn’t just something that they cooked up themselves. It was a consistent theme of the GOP in the 1980s with Reagan, Bill Bennett, Pat Buchanan etc. Now a lot of the rhetoric was AIMED at the “urban population” as well as the social left (crime, welfare, illegitimacy etc.) But a lot of these folks see the government’s refusal to pay its bills, and see entitlement programs/redistribution of wealth as the unproductive relative who never gets a job, never thinks about the future and freeloads of friends and family members writ large. Another thing: they may not necessarily be “Occupy Wall Street” types, but they feel the same way about corporate crooks, whose criminal behavior – and irresponsible risk taking – helped tank the economy. It isn’t just the liberal crowd that talks about greed and similar behavior by the wealthy and powerful: it is mentioned plenty of times in the Bible too (for example). So, if you place as much blame for the wrecked economy on Enron, Arthur Anderson, the banks who needed TARP etc. as you do on the Fox News explanation (labor unions, ACORN, affirmative action style lending policies to minorities) then Mitt Romney is not going to be your guy. Mike Huckabee tapped into that in 2008 when he said (among other things) “Romney looked like the guy who laid you off.” There is this general feeling that there is something adrift in America culturally and morally which our fiscal problems are merely a symptom of and not the cause, and until the root cause is fixed, issues like the national debt, entitlement reform, national security, energy independence, illegal immigration etc. won’t be addressed because no one will be willing to make the personal sacrifice required to do it.

    I happen to think that Romney will win the nomination, but only because of the lack of competition in the primary. (The idea that Gingrich and Santorum represent serious opposition is laughable … it honestly looks like the party powerbrokers succeeded in greasing the skids for Romney by eliminating all other viable opposition. Note that George W. Bush and his people got behind Romney early, though they didn’t try to attract much attention to that fact.) He will also win the presidency for the same reason: it will be more about the opponent (Obama) than Romney, though I believe that Obama will keep it close if the economy continues to improve. (Wildcard on that and other fronts: Iran!) But social conservatives will never trust Romney, and that will cause major issues in him A) governing and B) getting re-elected, just as was the case with George H. W. Bush.

    • kyleinatl says:

      Or counterpoint, Mitt Romney is the John Kerry of 2012, as in the guy the base can’t get enthused about but was nominated on this notion of “electability”…It didn’t work in 2008, and probably won’t work in 2012. Just my nagging hunch.

      • wicker says:

        @kyleinatl:

        John Kerry had plenty of support from the Democratic base. Are we forgetting that John Kerry would have won had it not been for the gay marriage issue in Ohio turning out tons of evangelical voters to swing a very close race, a margin of a few thousand voters? (The same also kept Florida from being another nailbiter.) Also, Kerry was no moderate. He was a very liberal candidate. The Kerry-Dean race was simply between establishment liberalism and the angry, activist progressive left … I guess you can say the Ted Kennedy crowd versus the Michael Moore crowd. The problem with Kerry was never the liberal base, but the middle; moderates and independents. Had the Democrats nominated a moderate Democrat from the south or midwest like Bob Graham or Bob Kerrey, Bush would have gotten hammered.

        • kyleinatl says:

          Well taken points, though with the lack of passion from both independent voters and the base towards Mitt Romney, I have a very hard time envisioning a path to victory unless we double dip on this recession.

          • Cassandra says:

            Today the gov’t announced an annualized 3% growth rate, based on last quarter results. I don’t believe that number, it will probably be revised downward as I suspect Chicago-style accounting was involved. But the economy is in the green, and their won’t be any recession the last half of ’12.

            Typically, the second half of an election year is kind to investors.

    • wicker says:

      “The problem is that just as a lot of fiscal conservatives aren’t socially conservative, a lot of social conservatives either aren’t fiscally conservative, or are not as motivated or energized to go to the polls – let alone contribute or volunteer – by fiscal issues as they are economic ones.”

      Should have been

      “The problem is that just as a lot of fiscal conservatives aren’t socially conservative, a lot of social conservatives either aren’t fiscally conservative, or are not as motivated or energized to go to the polls – let alone contribute or volunteer – by fiscal issues as they are social ones.”

      The way that fiscal conservatives are getting increasingly belligerent in their demands that social conservatives keep voting for a GOP that refuses to address their issues is repugnant. It would be far better were the social conservatives to stay at home, and allow the fiscal conservatives to attempt to forge their own winning coalition without them. (And good luck with that!)

      • Bucky Plyler says:

        YEP! The only people who complain about social conservatives are the folks that don’t like them! Try winning elctions without them….

      • Calypso says:

        “The way that fiscal conservatives are getting increasingly belligerent in their demands that social conservatives keep voting for a GOP that refuses to address their issues is repugnant.”

        I was pretty much with you up ’til this statement.

      • kyleinatl says:

        Actually, it could very easily happen. Envision this…a GOP that literally preaches limited government in regards to your wallet and your bedroom, that GOP would win 9 times out of 10. It’s the social issues that drive away independent and moderate voters like myself.

        • Three Jack says:

          “The way that fiscal conservatives are getting increasingly belligerent in their demands that social conservatives keep voting for a GOP that refuses to address their issues is repugnant. It would be far better were the social conservatives to stay at home…” {{{applause}}}}

          Once again I ask how anybody can be defined as ‘conservative’ when they support government intrusion into private lives under the guise of being ‘social’. You folks are no better than those on the left purporting to be fiscally responsible while putting forth legislation that expands welfare, food stamps, etc. I for one wish all those who rely on government to enforce their personal (religious) beliefs would stay home…the country would end up with a far better class of leaders.

          • John Konop says:

            TJ,

            The problem is both sides are more about winning than what is best for the country. We have the left promoting hate crime laws when a crime is a crime and the right trying to policing the bedroom, while hiding skeletons on the closet. We have both parties point fingers about abuse of signing authority by the president unless their guy is in the white house. We have the right argue for federal laws and the left argue states rights via Bush 2 vs. Gore in Florida. We have the right and left tell us unfunded one size fit all No Child Left Behind, which killed local control with education is best for our kids. We have the right and left pass Medicare Part D bill that will BK the country, for short term votes for the next election. I could go on and on, but I am sure you get the point. The term liberal and conservative have become meaningless in the political world.

            • Three Jack says:

              John, amazingly we agree. The dems runoff just as many if not more candidates than the GOP….Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Shuler, et al.

              I think we are screwed for this election cycle because no matter who wins (Obama, Romney or that guy from PA who can’t even retain his own senate seat). The next prez will be a government knows best big spending liberal…it’s only a matter of where the money will be spent. If we could get the fiscal liberals on the left and the bedroom liberals on the right to stay home as wicker mentioned, we might have a shot in 2016 to put forth a real reform candidate.

              • Three Jack says:

                Another example of unnecessary socon legislation here in GA — http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-bill-calls-for-1366416.html — 10 Commandments time again y’all.

                How much will it cost to post the docs in all govt. buildings?

                More importantly, how much will it cost to defend the law against Barry Lynn and the ACLU when the inevitable lawsuit is filed? The state legislature is definitely working to create jobs, albeit in the Attorney General’s office.

                • Three Jack says:

                  And another — http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-government/in-god-we-trust-1365936.html — waive the $1 fee for ‘In God we trust’ license plate sticker because according to Sen. Bill Heath, it is “unconscionable” for the state to profit from what he considered an expression of faith and respect. This bill is the step back from making it mandatory that all tags carry the phrase…geez.

                  Along those lines, I would like to propose that all specialized license plates be fee free. I think it is unconscionable for the state to profit from me choosing a UGA license plate. Where does it end?

                  • John Konop says:

                    Can I get free money from Georgia that has “In God We Trust” on it? How can we not give away the money since someone will make a profit on it. To save on paper and postage, Sen. Hearth, you can send me only high dollar bills. Thanks Bill you got my vote once I get enough CASH 🙂

            • NoTeabagging says:

              “The term liberal and conservative have become meaningless in the political world.” yes, they are generally overused as negative slurs, because there is no universal positive definition for them.

    • CobbGOPer says:

      “A lot of social conservatives honestly believe that the root cause of our economic problems is the moral decay.”

      No offense to you, but that’s just stupid. It’s not the government’s job to encourage or make us be moral. Legislating our way to better morals always works, right? Why do you people never remember Prohibition?

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        True that. There’s still waaay too many people who think that the act of passing laws, in itself, makes society a better place.

        I mean, if that were the case, our politicians could just pass a law declaring, “the world shall be a wonderful place,” and then they could come home because there’d be nothing left to do.

        If the church wants to regain its influence in society, it’d better focus on reducing the scope of government instead of worring about how to get people in power who can use those powers for ‘good’ (when they know good and well that those powers could just as easily be used for what they see as ‘evil’).

        I’m only gonna post this a second time, ’cause I don’t want to be seen as a spammer, but this video really should be seen by social conservatives (and the strategy suggested is still applicable whether they support Santorum or not):

        http://dailycaller.com/2012/02/28/the-deal-with-jack-hunter-how-rick-santorum-hurts-social-conservatism/

      • wicker says:

        CobbGOPer:

        It may be “stupid” to you, but such ideas have guided western civilization since, well, the beginning of western civilization. They weren’t cast off until relatively recently. The idea that America or any western nation ever was some sort of libertarian paradise is as ahistorical as the follies foisted on us by the liberal revisionists. It is not merely that good moral behavior and good economic behavior go hand in hand, but rather that throughout western history, good economic behavior has always been considered to be an integral part of good moral behavior. Moral responsibility and financial responsibility were never seen as two separate ideas to either complement or compete with one another. Instead, financial responsibility was considered in the west to be a mere subset of the larger moral responsibility. The idea that they could be viewed separately – or indeed even in conflict with each other – is a recent innovation.

        And it isn’t merely the Rick Santorum/Michele Bachmann crowd who believes this. John Maynard Keynes (of Keynesian economics) was a counterculture advocate who created his economic theories precisely because he felt that the existing economic theories of his days were inextricably linked with the prevailing puritanical (in his mind) cultural values. So, he developed and espoused an economic theory that would complement – and help advance – his social libertinism. His economic policy was designed to drive the social mindset that he desired to promote and vice versa.

        But the main point isn’t that whether this line of thinking has any merit (although I would ask of you to identify the enduring western society that has achieved both fiscal conservatism and social liberalism … I do not think that such an animal has existed for every long) but that a large percentage of the people that you need to support your candidates in order for your candidates to win believe it. THAT is the problem, and wishing it away – or trying to solve it by replacing such people with moderate and independent voters on a consistent basis – will not make it so.

        • CobbGOPer says:

          Citations please, that’s a great deal of historical speculation you’ve made about the development of western civilization.

          And I stand by my point that it is not the government’s job to make me a good person. Nor do I wish my tax dollars to pay for the government to give people moral instruction.

          You, on the other hand, apparently have no problem with spending oodles of other people’s money in order to make them what you would consider a ‘moral’ person. Please cite the relevant sections of the Constitution pertaining to my morality…

          Oh that’s right, there aren’t any.

  4. wicker says:

    @kyleinatl, seenbetrdayz, Calypso, CobbGOPer, ThreeJack:

    Nice to see that you all agree with each other. But stuff like “Envision this…a GOP that literally preaches limited government in regards to your wallet and your bedroom, that GOP would win 9 times out of 10. It’s the social issues that drive away independent and moderate voters like myself” is wrong. You are making two false assumptions.

    1. A socially liberal GOP would continue to be supported by socially conservative voters.
    2. That moderates and independents would consistently vote GOP.

    Regarding #1, you wouldn’t. Many of those folks would stay home, and some would even start voting Democrat. And #2, at best you would only REPLACE the social conservatives that you lost with moderate and independent voters, making you no better off than you are now. And even that is unlikely to happen. Independents “vote for the best candidate” and the idea that the GOP consistently nominates more ethical, better qualified candidates than the Democrats is , er, not something that can be objectively proven with facts. Also, “moderates” are not just fiscal conservatives and social liberals. They also include fiscal liberals and social conservatives (Catholics and a large swath of union voters) plus those that are both fiscally and socially moderate. So, the idea that a fiscally conservative GOP that ignores social issues could consistently win moderate and independent voters is an “everybody SMART thinks like me!” fantasy.

    The truth is that socially liberal GOPers generally get hammered in elections in the south and midwest. They win in the northeast and far west, but those aren’t fiscal conservatives either. Instead, they merely tax and spend less than the Democrats do, and pay for it by cutting only the programs and services that primarily benefit the constituencies that don’t vote for them (i.e. the Rudy Giuliani gameplan). The reason is that there aren’t anywhere near as many fiscally conservative voters as fiscal conservatives think there are. Certainly not enough to make a governing majority.

    • kyleinatl says:

      Where’s the data? I know for a fact that statement I put out there applies to myself, and I’m pretty darn down the middle, can you provide data that asserts your claim that socially “conservative” voters make up such a large segment of GOP voters or enough of the voting block that pulling in more independent voters in their place (which generally make up a greater portion of the electorate) wouldn’t be helpful?

        • kyleinatl says:

          Hold on Harry, while you were typing, I received an incoming transmission for you…hard to make out, something about Kenya….and birth certificates…muslim conspiracy.. and…and….damn, I lost it. We need to replace your hat so you can get these things again.

            • kyleinatl says:

              I believe that the government’s power to tax should be as limited as its power to enforce an ethical standard.

              I believe that MY rights end where YOURS begin and vice versa. That’s where I’m a moderate.

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      You really, REALLY need to watch that video I posted, up a few replies.

      You’ve made exactly the point as the fact there’s no monolithic consensus:

      “The truth is that socially liberal GOPers generally get hammered in elections in the south and midwest.”

      Yes. And, the socially conservative issues (many of which, I’m rooting for, BTW, but I don’t want to veer off too far of the topic trying to explain my reasoning from my minority libertarian viewpoint here), are not going to be won in an All-or-Nothing fight, as seems to be the current (losing) strategy.

      I’m saying that the current strategy of trying to reach out to particular factions (social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, liberals, etc. etc.) and expecting them all to agree on a single approach to ANY issue (not just social issues)—at the federal level no less, where 300 million people can be instantly affected by a single law!—HAS gotten us NO where, and WILL CONTINUE to get us NO where. Social conservatives should realize they have lost nearly every major battle since the ‘nationalization’ of issues, and might actually be able to win some victories here and there if they just scale back some of these federal powers (many of which they helped create).

      Of course, a few of them realize that doing so is essentially “destroying the Ring”, and they’re not gonna have those super-powers in the future anymore, but, neither will their opponents. Think about it.

  5. CobbGOPer says:

    And of course, in the Georgia House today, instead of, I don’t know, reforming our tax system or promoting job creation, our wonderful State Representatives spent the day talking about whether or not fetuses can feel pain, eventually passing a piece of legislation that will likely only cause more women to simply seek medical advice and services out of state.

    Good job, guys! We’re still 4th in the nation in foreclosures, by the way! Guess that issue’s too boring, they’d much rather spend their time finding better ways to keep women in bondage…

  6. c_murrayiii says:

    Despite my allegiance to the Republican party and my general belief that conservative social values tend to be good ideas, I do wonder why certain folks who claim the government never does anything right (which, I generally agree with), think that government will get the promotion of “traditional family values” right. I think churches, synagogues, and yes even mosques, as well as charities, and community groups (Rotary, Lion’s Club, American Legion) can better promote traditional values than the government. Government equates to oppression, they have a monopoly on the use of legal force. However, if an individual acts out in an immoral, yet legal, fashion, the shame from the community is far more effective in correcting behavior and values than the heavy hand of government. In large part, the reason people no longer care about community shame over their behavior is that they don’t need their community, they can rely on the government if all else fails. Big government, in any sense, reduces the importance of community and family by taking its place. If you want a socially conservative America, don’t look to the government for help, look to your neighbors. As Reagan said, “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

  7. NoTeabagging says:

    You know I hate labels, but this thread, and it’s discussion of political labels is actually very good. Thanks all for your thoughts and a good discussion.

  8. debbie0040 says:

    Conservatives may not be excited about the GOP nominee but I can promise you we will be excited about defeating Obama and his policies!! Any of the GOP candidates would make a better President than the one we have now..

    • Harry says:

      The Democrats will be shocked how fast the GOP reunites after this little vetting process. And the candidate will be a stronger person, as a result.

      • Calypso says:

        The people of the US will be shocked if the GOP reunites after this little vetting process. And the candidate will be suffering fatal wounds from ‘friendly-fire’ as a result.

        I think my correction of your assessment is more accurate, unfortunately. Though I do wish you were/are right.

    • Three Jack says:

      Well debbie, you just proved beyond any doubt that you do not speak for ‘conservatives’ because many of us will not ‘excitedly’ support the GOP nominee just because he is the GOP nominee. And the over used cliche, ‘any of the GOP candidates would make a better president than the one we have now’ is simply not factual nor a rallying cry.

      This is the kind of ‘hold your nose, cast a GOP vote’ rhetoric that gave us Dole, Bush and McCain. The old ‘come on team, the other guy sucks worse than our guy’ call to arms will not work anymore debbie. I’m really surprised that a tea party leader would display such a ‘might as well give up and just hope for the best’ attitude.

Comments are closed.