The Tea Party and Social Conservatives

YouTube Preview Image

Hattip to my friend Paul Zummo, the Cranky Conservative.  When asked what type of conservative I am, I have usually responded “just conservative”.  Like most conservatives I know, I am conservative on social issues, fiscal policies and foreign policy.  When one part of conservatism is ignored in a political race, electoral disaster often looms.  That is why I embrace completely what my fellow Illinoisan, Paul Mitchell said in a recent speech:

…anyone who knows me knows that I am a social conservative. I am also a fiscal conservative. I am also a foreign policy hawk. I see no conflict between these positions; indeed, it seems to me that each without the others would be incomplete.

Imagine if you will a society that embraced abortion, euthanasia, easy divorce and gay marriage, and that denigrated family life and religious faith. Could such a society, placing personal pleasure above family responsibility, ever show enough self-reliance to adopt fiscally conservative policies geared towards smaller government and lower taxes? I have a pretty good imagination, but I can’t imagine that. Could such a society find among its numbers enough young men with the courage and spirit of self-sacrifice to maintain its ability to defend its borders and its interests? I don’t believe so.

Likewise, would a people who turn first to government for the answer to every problem be likely to show the sense of responsibility necessary to defend life and family? I seriously doubt it.

I could go on in this vein, but I think you see my point. Our conservatism can be comprehensive, or it can be incomplete. And if incomplete, then it will be unstable and unworkable in the long run.

Go here to Paul’s blog, Thoughts of a Regular Guy, to read the rest.

40 Responses to The Tea Party and Social Conservatives

  • It is interesting to me that the passage above assumes the desirability of foreign policy hawkishness and low taxes; what it is justifying is the value of the family and faith. I tend to approach the question the other way around, accepting the value of family and faith and progressing outwards from there to evaluate the desirability of hawkishness and low taxes.

  • That is because you are a natural Democrat John Henry! :)

  • More seriously, I believe Paul was responding to attempts from some quarters to define the Tea Party as only a fiscally conservative movement. That is simply not the makeup of the Tea Party movement, as attendance at a big Tea Party rally would indicate.

  • That is because you are a natural Democrat John Henry!

    Heh. It’s worth recalling that the overwhelming majority of Catholics were Democrats prior to the hardening of their support for abortion rights in the 1980’s.

  • I believe Paul was responding to attempts from some quarters to define the Tea Party as only a fiscally conservative movement

    Yes, the pro-lifers need to fight to retain their position in the conservative coalition. About 2/3 of Republicans are pro-life, but that other 1/3 is noisy and tends to include many of the party elites. I understand the dynamics there, I was just struck by the difference between the structure of the argument in the passage and how I think the argument should be more properly ordered.

  • “Heh. It’s worth recalling that the overwhelming majority of Catholics were Democrats prior to the hardening of their support for abortion rights in the 1980’s.”

    Quite right John Henry. I am not a typical Catholic in that regard. On my father’s side, the Protestant part of my family, they have been Republicans since there was a Republican party to belong to. My Catholic mother was a Newfoundlander and therefore had no ancestral affiliation with either party, although she was proud when JFK was President, long before the colorful revelations came out about him.

  • re: defining the movement

    Local bloggers claiming to speak for the TPM recently posted a “guidelines” written up by a D.C. mid-level conservative activist named Eileen Mahony:

    “Leave the conspiracy theories at home. The Tea Parties are about small government, fiscal responsibility, and liberty — not birth certificates or black helicopters. Likewise for social issues.”

    Nice to see social issues grouped in with conspiracy theories.

    Some political leaders are getting too dumb or too personally licentious to know how to exploit social conservatives.

  • I am socially and fiscally conservative which is why I, like the Holy Father and JP2 before him, abhor an aggressive foreign policy. Being pro-life means promoting the lives of Iraqis and Afghans too. Being in favor of small government means a smaller role for the military too.

    The Tea Party needs social conservatives. It doesn’t need neo-cons.

  • Neocon restrainedradical? I was a conservative probably long before you were living on this globe. The idea that standing up to those who mean us harm abroad is an aggressive foreign policy I deny. Respecting the lives of Iraqis is ill-served by leaving them to the tender mercies of insurgents who would slaughter them, and respecting the lives of Afghanis is ill-served by leaving them to the tender mercies of the Taliban who give blood-thirsty despots a bad name.

  • The “neo-con” label is thrown about (usually as an insult) by people who have little knowledge or interest in the history of the term. It once had a very specific meaning. It was originally used to describe former leftists who were “mugged by reality” in the 1960’s and became increasingly conservative during what Paul Johnson termed “the collectivist ’70’s,” a time when democracy seemed in retreat around much of the globe. Some (but not all) of those former leftists were Jewish. All of them were strongly pro-Israel and very anti-Communist.

    Nowadays, the term seems to be used as a term of abuse to describe anyone leftists (and paleo-cons, who often sing off the same sheet of music as the lefties when it comes to defense) dislike.

    By leftist standards, Reagan would be considered a “neo-con” today, and yet nobody ever described him as one back in the 1980’s.

    Respecting the lives of Iraqis is ill-served by leaving them to the tender mercies of insurgents who would slaughter them, and respecting the lives of Afghanis is ill-served by leaving them to the tender mercies of the Taliban who give blood-thirsty despots a bad name.

    Exactly so. I wonder at those who indulge themselves in the wishful thought that if we withdraw from the world the world will leave us alone. We tried that in the ’90’s. Didn’t work out so well for us, did it?

  • Well said Donna!

  • It was intended neither as an insult nor as a catch-all for anyone I disagree with. I don’t think any of us here need a lesson in the origins of the term. I meant it in the modern sense to refer to those who share the worldview (defined primarily by foreign policy) of Irving Kristol’s ideological heirs, Bill Kristol and Co.

  • As for the matter of whether the Tea Party movement is socially conservative: I recall anti-war protests in my liberal urban neighborhood just a few short years ago (amazing how those protests vanished after November 2008, although we still have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan). Plenty of signs depicting Bush as a Nazi, etc, but also plenty of signs which had nothing at all to do with the matter at hand – everything from animal rights to “Free Mumia” to abortion “rights.” Every pet cause of the left was represented.

    Personally, I’d prefer to see the TP stay focused on economics and taxes. I would expect that if you polled a bunch of TP people, the majority of them would be more conservative socially than the population as a whole. But I don’t expect to see pro-life signs at a TP because, however dear to our hearts that cause is, it has no more to do with the TP than pro-abort signs had to do with the anti-war cause. After all, the movement arose as a response to the stimulus package. Americans may disagree on social issues but there seems to be a majority consensus that A. we are overtaxed, B. government spending is outrageous and will be a great burden on future generations and C. the political and media elites in this country have grown increasingly arrogant and out of touch with the ordinary folks who pay the bills. The TP needs to build on that consensus if it is going to be something more than people letting off steam.

    The liberals would like nothing better than to see the movement splinter as social cons and libertarians and neo-cons and paleo-cons battle each other hammer and tongs. In the meantime, the Dems continue to spend like drunken sailors and devise new ways to squeeze money out of the populace.

    It is true that a fiscal conservative is not necessarily a social conservative. But what is even truer is that a liberal Democrat NEVER is, and we found out just a few weeks ago that when push comes to shove, a Blue Dog “conservative” Dem knows who’s buttering his bread.

  • I meant it in the modern sense to refer to those who share the worldview (defined primarily by foreign policy) of Irving Kristol’s ideological heirs, Bill Kristol and Co.

    But, again, that common usage is sloppy. “Neo” means “New.” It made perfect sense to describe Irving Kristol and his wife, Gertrude Himmelfarb, as neo-cons because they were once liberals (heck, I think Irving was a one-time card-carrying Commie)who turned conservative. But their son, William, has never been on the left. There’s nothing “neo” about his conservatism. (And he is certainly a social con – I recall him and Juan Williams, both normally mild-mannered, polite types shouting at each other about Terri Schiavo. Kristol was angrier and more passionate than I’ve ever seen him.)

    Yes, he believes in a foreign policy of strong defense and interventionism when necessary – traditional cornerstones of GOP policy. I guess what baffles me is when people (not necessarily you personally, RR) talk as if “neo-conservativism” is some strange mutant strain of conservatism that sprang up like the ebola virus in the post-9/11 Bush administration.

  • Donna V. writes:

    “The liberals would like nothing better than to see the movement splinter as social cons and libertarians and neo-cons and paleo-cons battle each other hammer and tongs.”

    I suspect they would love more to see social conservatives shut up as they are further and further driven out of politics. Fiscal conservatives are incapable of challenging liberals (and improvident citizens) on a cultural level, which is why a fiscally-focused movement will not succeed in its long-term goals. Our broken culture spawned the broken economy. Focusing on economics misses the foundational damage.

  • Neo-Neoncon, a blogger, is an example of the “liberal mugged by reality” type.

    My philosophy boils down into making sure folks have a chance to make their own moral choices, with support for the right ones– thus, all around conservative and pro-active foreign policy.

  • I suspect they would love more to see social conservatives shut up as they are further and further driven out of politics.

    Liberals would love to see conservatives of any stripe shut up, so the choices facing voters ends up being like the ones faced by many Europeans – do you want the far leftist or the center-left one? Many “conservative” European pols would fit solidly in the mainstream of our Democratic Party.

    Fiscal conservatives are incapable of challenging liberals (and improvident citizens) on a cultural level, which is why a fiscally-focused movement will not succeed in its long-term goals.

    Yes, but we have to do something in the short term. When you’re suffering from a raging toothache, you go to the dentist immediately. Later on, you consider whether the fact that you eat 5 candy bars a day and rarely brush your teeth might be connected to the fact that you’ve got 10 cavities. Kevin, I certainly agree with you that a culturally self-indulgent country will not be a fiscally sound one, but when we’re in a situation where many citizens refuse to consider basic math, we have to start somewhere.

  • John Henry the Democrat Party you are referring to does not exist any longer and not just because of the abortion issue. It is a a party of elitist who believe in relativism , a govenrment controlled by those who think they know what is good for the people, regardless of what people think, a government that caters to thos bored and unhappy people who consume and produce nothing and take from those happy people who produce all. It is a party that keeps people down and continues to extend welfare rather than workfare to thousand of those on the dole and their succceeding children who continue to remain in that status generation after generation amd party of the intelligensia who continue to brain wash our children and students in an education format from kindergaten to PHDs. That is what the party is today and beware if you opne your mouth to be critical, as it is also a party who try to control speech and their own interpretation of the Bill of Rights and their so callled envolving Constitution

  • I agree that in terms of the Tea Party movement itself, the emphasis should be on the fiscal side of the equation. As Donna suggests, move of these folk are probably socially conservative as well, but in this very narrow sense it is best to concentrate on a few core economic issues.

    But in the broader sense, it is folly to separate economic and social conservatism. Even if we look at this from a purely political standpoint, it is actually on social issues that conservatives have generally had broader support than on economic issues. Sorry David Frum.

  • “We tried that in the ’90s”

    We did? Really? When?

    I recall being in Iraq in the 90’s, in Bosnia, in Somalia, not to mention military bases around the world, and that littel thing in Panama (that may have been late’80s – the memory is the first thing to go). So is that your defintion of “leaving the world alone”?

  • During the nineties the Clinton administration did its very best to ignore Islamic terrorism and hope the problem would go away. Clinton specialized in futile cruise missle strikes for public consumption.

    http://www.examiner.com/x-24794-American-History-Examiner~y2010m2d17-Terrorism-in-the-90s

  • Clinton probably bombed or deployed troops to more countries than any other president. If it weren’t for Carter’s 11th hour appeasement deal, Clinton would’ve bombed North Korea. All the intervention caused Bush to run as the more isolationist candidate.

    But trying to get neo-cons/hawks/interventionists/warmongers/whatever to understand why America is hated is like trying to get a blind man to understand what color is.

  • Rubbish Restrainedradical. You are as one with your ideological ancestors the isolationists in this country in the Thirties who almost ensured a victory by the Third Reich in World War II. Isolationism is a good way to simply kick the can down the road for a future generation to deal with a problem while posing as holier-than-thou and calling those who have eyes to see what is coming warmongers.

  • A few years ago, someone called me a “neo-con” in the comboxes on Chris Blosser’s blog, Against the Grain. Here was my tongue-in-cheek response:

    “To apply the term ‘neoconservative’ to me or any other Southerner is an oxymoron. The South is arguably the most conservative region in the country, but there ain’t nothin’ ‘neo’ about our conservatism. We’ve always been pro military and have favored a muscular U.S. foreign policy going back to the earliest days of the Republic … The appellation ‘neoconservative’ by definition doesn’t apply to the traditional conservatism of Southerners.”

  • yes restrainedradical the same country that has bailed out country after country after wars, tsunamis , earthquakes, disrepair, genocide, AIDS, and thru foreign aid. Do you think if we stop the money we send each year to keep the UN fiancially stable and stop all our aid to other countries for any reason and removed all our troops from every base in Korea, Europe, Iraq, Afghanistan, and every other country, would that make them love us more. And btw blind persons FEEL colors.

  • AFL- you forgot the sea turtles.

    When my ship was heading back to Japan after we’d helped Thailand recover from the Christmas Tsunami, which is where we’d gone after we left support for Iraqi Freedom, we stopped and cut several trapped sea turtles out of a net.

    I know I sure wouldn’t pick a guy who tried to gut the military as having “bombed or deployed troops to more countries” than any other unless I was very sure, especially when as I remember he only acted when utterly forced to do so–no matter how much death resulted, or how much it made matters worse. Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti and the NoKs come to mind….

  • I supported the war in Afghanistan. I’m not opposed to the UN or foreign aid. I’m no isolationist. If anything, I have a bias in favor of world government. I, unlike many bloodthirsty Americans, don’t celebrate every shot America fires.

    Yes, afl, pulling troops out of all those countries would make them love us more. It’s a fact supported by polls.

  • That you favor a world government restrainedradical and that you consider some of your fellow Americans bloodthirsty surprises me about as much as the news that the sun rises in the east and that it sets in the west.

  • That you favor a world government restrainedradical and that you consider some of your fellow Americans bloodthirsty surprises me about as much as the news that the sun rises in the east and that it sets in the west.

    Then why did you say he was an isolationist?

  • BA
    I’ll answer, although un-invited, why DRM called RR an isolationist.
    World government hopefuls consider that government (at least for the purposes of discussion) as being entirely non-military. Without nations, militaries will no longer exist. Then all reactionary responses to the long arm of world governance will be charaterized as threats to the domestic peace of the world. These will be handled by police, who will be armed and trained not very differently than the special operations forces now maintained by evil national governments.
    isolationism today, in response to (always) malicious nationalistic interventionism, is not inconsistent with the “can’t we all get along ruled by our oneworld betters” global governance worldview. Logic need not apply.

  • Except for paleocons BA, something I have not considered restrainedradical to be, a strong adversion to the use of American military force and a faith in the UN and globaloney often go hand in hand, as Kevin points out.

  • Foxfier, I like the sea turtle story.

    Given the UN’s less than shining track record and proven corruption, how anybody can place trust in that sorry organization is beyond me.

  • World government. That would be just great for Catholics. Sure it would.

  • Indeed Mike, there is urgent need of a true world political authority. It would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all. Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties. Without this, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations.

    Kevin & Don, there must be a word to describe me other than isolationist. I’m not a Pat Buchanan or Ron Paul type isolationist. Can someone who supports free trade, more immigration, foreign aid, supported the war in Afghanistan, and urged intervention in Liberia, Rwanda, and Sudan, really be called an isolationist? A soft-isolationist? A soft-interventionist? An interventionist-isolationist?

  • RR,
    I didn’t call you an isolationist, I just defended the notion that eventual-one-worlders often adopt an isolationist approach to foreign policy under the current world terms of engagement.

    From your last post, either you actually believe that man is perfectable by his own efforts (heresy, however the thought is framed) or you have left unstated the requirement that the one world government entity actually be constituted and behave as the Catechism “hopes” it will. The UN is decidedly not in compliance, nor even is it likely reconcilable to that standard.
    I too wanted us to intervene in Rwanda. But since you place so much weight in polls, just think for a few minutes about the polling data six months into a bloody US occupation in Rwanda, carried out no matter how uprightly by a predominantly white US military. Polling data would support the notion that the US was trying to re-establish the slave trade and Jesse Jackson wopuld be shaking down Army Emergency Relief for Rainbow PUSH.

  • RR,
    I should have added in my last post that there is urgent need for a true world political authority capasbvle of setting all these wrongs right. But uhnless you know when Jesus plans to return, I’ll not be holding my breath that any of the pretenders out there will make things better.

  • You need to turn up your irony detector restrainedradical in regard to Mike’s comment. :)

    I believe that under current world conditions a world government would be the greatest engine of tyranny in the lamentable annals of human folly. As for international law, I have always thought that books on that topic should be shelved in the fiction section of libraries. At most we have international suggestions, a condition I find preferable to ceding authority to some body that would attempt to govern all the inhabitants of this planet.

  • Kevin, I more or less agree. My support for military intervention is always conditioned on likelihood of success which I am not competent to assess. I do think a world government (not necessarily the UN in its current form) can make things better. I think it already has in many areas (e.g., trade, law harmonization, and humanitarian aid).

    Don, you need to turn up your double irony detector or I need to turn down my double irony.

  • In that case restrainedradical perhaps you would care to address Mike’s suggestion that a world government would be a disaster for Catholics?

  • I don’t know how else to address it. Maybe it’s Mike’s turn to respond to my response.

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .