Tea Party Movement ‘Too Libertarian’ for Social Conservative Leaders

Social conservative leaders are worried that the Tea Party movement doesn’t care enough about abortion and gay marriage, Politico reports.

This appears to be a growing theme, ever since Mike Huckabee said that he skipped  CPAC this year because it was “too libertarian” for him. In his most recent book, Huckabee wrote of a growing movement of what he called “faux-cons;” people who hold free market views on the economy, but don’t think the government should use its coercive powers to promote a “family values” social agenda.

Now, more prominent social conservatives are repeating a similar line.  Here’s what some of them told Politico:

- “There’s a libertarian streak in the tea party movement that concerns me as a cultural conservative,” said Bryan Fischer, director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association. “The tea party movement needs to insist that candidates believe in the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage.”

- “As far as I can tell [the tea party movement] has a politics that’s irreligious. I can’t see how some of my fellow conservatives identify with it,” said Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals.

There are probably good reasons why they’re so worried. The Tea Party movement has not based its activism on their top priorities, (do you see anything about gay marriage or abortion in their Contract From America?) and the social conservatives fear they are losing their grip on the center-right.

If anything, this is an excellent opportunity for supporters of limited government to explain why increasing government coercion to propel conservative social ends is no different than using coercion to promote liberal ends. The government that has the power to help your cause is the same government that can promote the opposite agenda after you lose the next election. Better not to give them the power at all in the first place.

I mentioned this problem recently in a conversation with a social conservative. The person’s reply: “Well, that’s why you should always vote Republican.”

Sorry pal, it just doesn’t work like that.

Clearly, this is a fact of politics that social conservatives have yet to learn.

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