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Roger L. Simon

How Social Conservatives Are Saving Liberalism (Barely)

January 22nd, 2014 - 7:20 pm
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Can the GOP avoid getting suckerpunched this fall?

Reading David Harsanyi’s well-reasoned article  “Sorry, America Isn’t Destined To Be More Liberal” in The Federalist, I was struck once again how we are at a point  where only social conservatives can save liberalism.  Harsanyi was responding to what he calls “wishful thinking” in a Washington Post op-ed by Steve Rosenthal, a former political director of the AFL-CIO,  ”America is becoming more liberal.”

Harsanyi correctly points out that most of what Rosenthal cites as evidence for this tilt are social issues — most prominently same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization. And certainly it’s true that gay marriage and legalized pot are more popular than ever. Rosenthal also makes the claim that anti-big business feeling is on the rise, as if that were an indication of a preference for liberalism — or am I mistaken and George Soros is a “small businessman”?

In reality what is really going on is not a liberal revolution but a libertarian one. More Americans than ever, or at least during my lifetime, distrust the federal government and think it’s too big.  Indeed, in the latest Gallup poll of America’s problems, government itself leads the way among our citizens with 21% followed by the economy with 18%.  The president’s bugaboo, “the gap between rich and poor,” registers a paltry 4%.

That doesn’t sound like a liberal revival to me, not in the modern statist sense anyway.  It sounds like the reverse. As for gay marriage and “le-mar,” they have both been on many libertarian agendas forever.

This analysis of the (admittedly macro) political trends in our country tracks well with my personal observation. Being an older guy with a teenage daughter, I have been blessed in many ways — not the least of which is considerable contact with the younger generation.  Much of that contact is circumscribed, but not all of it. Recently I have had the opportunity to interview high school students from many different social classes and ethnicities.

Although I didn’t ask them directly about their politics — that was off the table for the interviews I was conducting — I got a fair glimpse of their views as time went on just through the flow of the conversation.  Worry about their economic future is, not surprisingly, pervasive, but there was practically universal skepticism of government’s ability to solve it.  They saw themselves as individual actors, libertarian, in most cases, without even realizing it. They were also highly aware of Obamacare and its innate unfairness to the younger generation, as well as its overweening bureaucratic disorganization.

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Top Rated Comments   
I hate to break it to you but you ARE letting your desire for gay marriage to be accepted color your view. You see what you want to see. Let me explain two things:
1) You write "And young people, again not surprisingly, don’t want to hang with bigots". But that isn't true. Young people happily hang out with bigots all the time. Instead you should have written "Young people don't want to hang out with those who pop culture and peer pressure CLAIM are uncool bigots." And there you see the problem. You may THINK that social conservatives are bigots because they oppose your gay friends getting married, but most all of those young (and older) people FEEL that they are bigots because they've been taught to feel that. And they aren't taught to feel it because it is true; but because it is a useful weapon for the liberals to use against us. Even if social conservatives completely embraced gay marriage, the young kids would still be taught that the small gov't coalition is full of bigots. It might be for the same reason, it might be for a different one. The truth doesn't matter; what is politically useful matters. Just like it doesn't matter that Republicans got Civil Rights passed and that Republicans are far less racist as both individuals and a matter of policy. We are branded as racists because they can and they want to. You should not, therefore, advocate the social conservatives give up on being against gay marriage for this reason (you may for your own reasons, but let's not confuse them with practical political advice) which won't make a difference. You should instead advocate that small gov't supporters seize The Narrative and figure out how to be more influential in popular culture. Do to Hollywood what self-publishing is starting to do to book publishers and music labels. Taking away their ability to brand us bigots will be the only thing that stops it from happening.
2) I'm sorry to break this to you, but lots of Christian conservatives oppose the gov't recognition of gay marriage for perfectly practical reasons that have nothing to do with hating gay people. For one example, as soon as the fight to get gov'ts to recognize gay marriage has been won, they will then attempt to use that as a lever to force schools to teach all children that it is equal to heterosexual marriage, school books will portray gay families in at least 20% of 'family' pictures and descriptions, etc. You may think that is all true... but can you see why Christians would not want their tax dollars to be used to fund organizations that brand them as hate groups and teach their children against their wishes? It will not stop until practicing Catholics are prohibited by the gov't from adopting children on the basis that they might teach them Hate against gays... and they'll joyously delight in it purely as revenge for the time when gay people could not adopt. Before you think I'm paranoid, consider that this will NOT be done by the nice gay couple that you had dinner with or any of your gay friends who have a life outside of politics. THOSE people aren't driving any of this. It will be done by the vocal, obsessed minority of politically driven gays that 1. convinced your nice gay friends that the Christians down the street who thought that gayness was a sinful lifestyle choice or their Christian relatives who pray for them every night, in fact hated them for who they are... and 2. are RIGHT NOW suing bakers and photographers to force them to serve gay couple when they don't want to. You think those people wanted a cake from that baker in CO so badly they had to sue to get it? Pfft. Please, if they had any sense they didn't eat a bite of it. All they wanted was the thrill of power in making (literally at gunpoint, through the police powers of the state) that baker serve them against his will. Think carefully on it. You know they delighted in that exercise of power. Just because some of us can't be talked into handing the progressives another weapon to use against us, doesn't mean we hate the gays that want to be married. If God will make them one flesh then jumping over a broom will work as good as a form from city hall. If not, then all the forms in the world don't matter, do they? Open your eyes to the long game and quite listening to the vocal political progressives who are giving you deceitful play-by-plays of what isn't really happening.
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38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
If the GLBT position was truly about equal rights, there would be no need to re-define marriage - and yes, I support streamlining the ability of GLBT relationships to acquire/maintain legal protections for their legitimate issues, such as inheritance/property rights and next-of-kin status in health care decisions, in accordance with the requirement to protect their unalienable rights as individuals - including the right to engage in GLBT relationships.

However, the legal recognition of heterosexual marriage has transcended culture and religion for centuries, because of what it brings to the party - stability for relationships where the potential for conceiving children, inside and/or outside the marriage bond, is plausible. BTW, this includes couples who physicians have deemed incapable of conception (never say never) ... and those whose female partners are beyond menopause (to keep Grandpa from cheating on a long-faithful Grandma and turning a twentysomething hottie into a single mother).

The key is the creation of new lives, in need of protection and stability as they mature ... THAT is the compelling interest of government to recognize, and do its part to enforce, the heterosexual marriage contract, to protect the unalienable rights of those lives.

GLBT relationships simply do not include that compelling interest. So why are we obligated to push for not only legal recognition of such relationships, but to declare them the SAME as heterosexual marriage in the eyes of the law?

Let's understand something here ... the push to redefine marriage to include GLBT relationships is nothing more than an attempt to create a "new normal", complete with its equivalent of the RaceCard - the GayCard (?) - being issued to marginalize/muzzle critics and jam the GLBT moral view down all our throats, greased by the canard that legal recognition automatically makes something moral.

Notice that neither Scripture nor faith was invoked in the above.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Anyone else ever notice that the prescription for expanding the GOP tent always seems to just be excluding the people we don't like and won't get invited to the cool cocktail parties?

All of these "To save the GOP we need to..." are always the same thing. Steve Green posted one about a week ago. http://pjmedia.com/vodkapundit/2014/01/07/required-reading-452/ Exact same thing. The GOP is guaranteed to win if only we get rid of those ugly fat Christians in flyover country. All this is said with a straight face of course, because gay marriage was much more important in 08 than the financial crisis, and we didn't run the governor of the first state to legalize gay marriage in 12. Remind me, how are Presidents McCain and Romney doing? What's that? You mean all those kids that love gay marriage didn't come out to vote McRomney? And most of the conservative stayed home? But I was told it was a sure thing.

Roger I have a lot of repeat for you and PJMedia, but good luck with the your 6% Libertarian vote and millenials that kind of lean for gay marriage, but never actually vote. We'll see how that works out because speaking as a social conservative who firmly believes that a stable nuclear family is the best guarantor of prosperity, even more than tax cuts, I'm getting sick of being told I'm what's wrong with the Republican party on not the spineless jellyfish in Washington.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (313)
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Well - if avoiding the social issues and focusing on fiscal issues worked, then Ken Cuccinelli would be governor of Virginia and Mitt Romney would be President of the United States. Both assiduously avoided discussion of social issues - the problem was/is that the left will continue to raise these issues as long as Republicans run for office and have no cogent response. I am a social conservative, but I find Rand Paul appealing because he seems, I say seems, to understand that libertarianism should be about ordered liberty, not the adolescent dream of having all of our "disordered desires" (as the Catholics describe them) fulfilled and the hell with their impact on society. Personal choices do have broad social impact and there is no way around this. That's why we have always had legal and moral prohibitions on certain types of unsalutary behavior - drug use and homosexual sex.

We can't solve our economic problems without solving our social problems and our social problems are largely caused by programs and policies established by the left. Unless Republicans want to take on these issues (marriage and family in general) they will continue to lose.

The left has no sense of humor. When Paul was pushed to comment on Mr. Huckabee's libido remarks, his answer was "I never discuss female anatomy except when I'm at a medical convention." Boom. Question dropped. We need more conservative spokespersons who can use humor to defuse attacks BUT also have serious policy responses to the disaster that is same sex marriage. NOT God ordained marriage between a man and a woman, which will not persuade proponents to change their minds.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
"SoCons who continue to press this issue on the political (not the personal or religious) stage..."

I'm not buying this. When was the last time any political socon PRESSED the issue on the political stage? The truth is that socons are NOT pressing the issue.

36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Andy McCarthy is exactly right. Roger Simon's argument essentially comes down to saying "Look, if only we hand over to the government the right to redefine marriage, family and even life itself, then it'll be come a conservative lapdog on things like marginal tax rates." Right.

If the GOP surrenders on marriage (and it might) then my political goal is no longer the defeat of the Democratic Party. At that point my goal is the defeat of the Republican Party. Why? The Democratic Party will never represent my views no matter what, so my only hope left is to destroy the GOP in the hope of re-establishing a more formative party in its place. And if that is not going to happen (and it probably wouldn't) then I just as well be martyred by the Democrats.

So Roger, if I'd literally rather be killed then surrender on marriage, you better change course and get Libertarian set to join me.

P.S. The youth vote must be the single worst argument out there. Consider this: over half of all conservative pundits writing today used to be liberals.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I have to say in all candor that political opposition to same-sex marriage is the Achilles’ heel of the right going into 2016. Social conservatives who intend to make a serious issue out of it should realize that the fallout from their views could adversely affect all of us in a catastrophic way."

You have been warned Republicans. Ignore at your own peril.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, isn't that special, Grampa Simon "interviewed" the young people. Why don't you condescend to spend time in the schools helping out? Could you take a math class or volunteer substitute a history class? Anything would help.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
RLS again shows his bigotry against the social conservatives. Nothing like a bigot complaining about bigotry.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
RS thinks that by throwing those unpleasant social cons under the bus he can buy peace with the left and be allowed to pursue a small gov't agenda. If any candidate seriously tried to roll back statism and limit the federal reserve backstop which supports it, then every part of society would be arrayed against him.

Such a person will get called racist, homophobe, anti-whatever plus all the new names the statists can come up with. The Republican establishment (who have made peace with statism), their venture cronyism funders and the fake-conservative bloggers who support the entire mess will tell us this is not the hill to die on.

If you think getting rid of soc cons will allow you to pursue a pure politics, just try to actually return gov't to its constitutional limits. The battles which you lack the stomach for will be pleasant and the choices easy compared to what lies ahead for anyone seriously attempting to reverse statism.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
There's nothing "small government" about some of these SocCons. Do you think a IntraVaginalProbe mandated in every ObGyn clinic has anything to do with "Small Government"?
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
LET'S STICK IT TO THE STATES
I'm tired of abortion. I'm tired of gun control and I'm equally tired of gay rights. Can't we just stipulate that these are 'state' issues and let the states deal with them. For federal elections, I just want to concentrate on smaller government, plus foreign and fiscal policies. That's all folks. That's it. Period. The end.
(BTW: I understand that gun control is a federal issue. However, living in NYC makes you realize that the Second Amendment doesn't really exist in certain places. So I propose when enough states get together and want to amend the Constitution, either way about whatever social issue strikes their fancy, let 'em. It's their right. Just don't let social issues ruin the next few election cycles. Please.)
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
They were "state's issues", until that pesky 14th Amendment. Sorry, Mike, that ship has sailed. Tired of the 21st Century? Take an Ambien.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Phil - Get your facts and history straight. The 14th Amendment was adopted in 1868 and had nothing to do with abortion rights until the Supreme Court, erroneously, said it did in Roe v. Wade -- 100 years later. Roe, like ObamaCare, will fail from from it's weight -- which is bad law and bad logic. I happen to be pro-abortion, but not because of Roe v. Wade.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
We don't need to change the platform, we just need our candidates to introduce, for later development, the libertarian view that government shouldn't be in the marriage business at all. We put a man on the moon, and we can't rejigger to tax code so that, if adults are legally under state law raising a child in their home, they get the tax credit regardless of marital status?

Also, I didn't feel that the dog, I mean marriage, license some court clerk gave my wife and me made us married. Our contract is with God and/or each other. That's the winning position, plus constant reminders that religiously minded people bear no animus toward gay people.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
If gay marriage is such a winner for the Left, then why are its supporters trying to bypass the democratic process in order to see it enacted in Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia (and using collusion with a friendly AG in Virginia)?
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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