The Existence of Two Wings Doesn’t Mean that Both Have to Flap on the Same Side
An interesting, if frustrating, conversation has proceeded from a recent post in which I suggested that libertarians and those who focus on civic and economic matters should not take their Obama-inspired momentum as an opportunity to jettison social conservatives from movement. The frustration derives from the difficulty in nailing down the precise notions that everybody’s arguing — perhaps because civic-minded groups with a secular focus seem to believe that they have to run away from any association with socially conservative movements.
The underlying assumption often appears to be that the wonks’ issues are the driving force pulling along social baggage that, while not necessarily unwelcome, is best tucked away in the storage area. I’d argue that people’s actual voting behavior and other political considerations make such a proposition dubious.
Anyway, the conversation has reminded me that I’ve been intending to link to RI Tea Party founder Colleen Conley’s recent letter to the Providence Journal, and although it was initially her remarks on binding arbitration and suspending legislative rules that claimed my attention, this is the paragraph that stands out, now:
Representatives from the Rhode Island Tea Party, Operation Clean Government, Rhode Island Statewide Coalition and the East Providence Taxpayers Association spoke against the binding-arbitration bill. The Ocean State Policy Research Center provided statistics to back up the assertions made.
None of these groups are organized for advocacy on social issues (although with such things as healthcare, some overlap occurs, of course), and they do not have to be. To extrapolate: I would see no justification or probably advantage to leveraging my involvement in Tiverton Citizens for Change in order to address, say, abortion or same-sex marriage. If every group strives to take a position on every issue, we end up unable to resolve anything, which is why it’s so insidious that the political left strives to consolidate all issues under the umbrella of state action.
The reality, however, is that the focus of social conservatives may be broadly characterized as protecting their right to determine the shape of their government — to define marriage, to be able to vote and govern as if it’s possible that God exists, to draw lines against killing unborn children. Consequently, when civic groups disclaim association with social conservatives, we must be wary of the inclination of other factions to undermine our efforts in other areas. If, that is, moderates and libertarians take the opportunity to elect candidates and pass laws that further entrench abortion, nationalize same-sex marriage, and strengthen barriers to religious organizations’ involvement in the public square, then the right-leaning coalition has sold its soul and will, in the long run, find its economic and civic policies unsustainable.