It is far past time to separate the conservative movement in this country from it’s fanatical marriage to religion, to once and for all put to bed the idea that all conservatives are Christian and that to be a conservative one must be a very religious person.
This is complete balderdash.
Recent surveys have put the number of nonreligious Americans at 20%, or one-fifth of the population. That’s right: one out of every five Americans does not have a religious affiliation. That’s not the same as being atheist or agnostic—we’re only 6% of the population—but it is significant. That’s because almost every argument for social conservative policies, which are a main course in the conservative policy dinner, are argued for on either religious lines or appeals to “tradition” or “Western civilization,” and those almost always come back to religion too.
What that means is that there is automatically one-fifth of the population that disagrees with you, and will always disagree with you, and will very likely always support your opponent.
Obama won a large Electoral College victory, but he did not receive a mandate for his agenda
People more eloquent than I am (who probably had more coffee today than I did) have already made this point. I thought this tweet from left-of-center blogger Cory Doctorow summed things up pretty nicely:
Amazing to think that I’m relieved at the victory of the pro-wiretapping, pro-extrajudicial-assassination, anti-whistleblower candidate
— Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) November 7, 2012
When it’s a struggle for your most vocal supporters to root for you, that’s not a good sign about how effective you’ve been as a leader. To read more on how exactly Chicago pulled off this election, see thisTIME piece. That kind of attention to detail made the Obama reelection effort more nimble and better prepared to adapt to changing conditions on the ground, and it’s really no surprise (from an operative’s perspective) that they won.
In a blog post yesterday morning, my former Cato Institute colleague Tom G. Palmer, who is openly gay and who once “brandished a pistol to scare off several men who he feared were about to attack him because of his sexual orientation,” discussed Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s reaction to Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s on-the-record remarks about his company’s multi-million dollar support for traditional marriage causes and advocacy. Mayor Menino, in an interview with the Boston Herald, subsequently threatened to lean on city planners to deny Chick-fil-A business licenses it would need to operate within the jurisdiction:
“If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies,” he warned.
Menino also told the Herald that
“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.”
Tom Palmer concluded his post, writing
There have been a lot of silly “scandals” during this election season, which is a usual and normal waste byproduct of the American election process, though this year has been notably intense. Unfortunately, between the “scandals” of Obama having eaten dog while a child in Indonesia, criticism over a flubbed line in Poland, guffaws about him using the word “thingamajig” in a speech, and the resurgent “Birther” nonesense, conservatives and libertarians are losing sight of the real problems with the Obama administration. As I see it, there are two that need to be focused on relentlessly:
- The absolutely dismal economic situation, exacerbated by this president’s misguided and foolhardy policies
- The utterly atrocious record on civil liberties that President Obama has engendered, a holdover from the Bush administration (so much for “Change”)
Everything else can pretty much be secondary to this or just treated as nonsense. These are the real core problems with the Obama administration, and they are all that conservatives need to hammer him with. Forget the memes, forget the social conservatism, just focus on two things: jobs and civil liberties (which does, in case you’re wondering, tie into foreign policy. A bit.)
The economic problem is fairly straightforward: this is the worst recession since World War II, bar none. From the Calculated Risk blog, this chart shows you how badly:
No, I’m not suggesting a name change for the blog. What I’m talking about is the concept called “ordered liberty,” which is frequently used by conservatives as an attempt to appeal to libertarians. “Why, yes,” they say, “We believe in liberty, but we think it should be ordered.” It came up during a debate at Cato last year between Cato interns and Heritage Foundation interns (unless my memory is horrifically mistaken) and I’ve seen it be deployed in arguments across social networks. It was recently used on one blog, regarding the Amendment One vote in North Carolina, noting that incestrous relationships and polygamy were “detrimental to ordered liberty.”
But what exactly is ordered liberty? I’ve never really figured out just what, if anything, people using the term are really trying to say.
The two people that the term appears to have come from are giants in the field of conservatism: Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk. These two are probably the intellectual giants of modern American conservatism*, along with William F. Buckley. It was they who came up with this phrase, which, for what I can deduce, is essentially that liberty is not allowed to run completely amok, and that there must be some limits.
Now in the political beliefs of what we call “Christian civilization” or “Western civilization”—of which American civilization is a part—there are three cardinal ideas: the idea of justice, the idea of order, and the idea of freedom. These three great concepts are the cement of American society.
Much hash has been made lately of Gary Johnson taking the Libertarian Party nomination. He is probably the highest-profile candidate to run for the party in the past twenty years, thanks to his eight years of executive experience in New Mexico as a Republican, his hard-hitting libertarian principles, and the fact that, well, let’s face it: the guy is just cool.
I mean, scaling Mt. Everest? Vetoing over 750 bills? Saying weed, gay rights, and gun rights are all a-ok? That’s just not something that comes around every four years. And he’s also (relatively) young, which is always a plus. (Sorry, Ron.)
Naturally, though, a lot of people are exhibiting signs of a disease calling “Spoileritis.” A perfect example comes from a comment on Bob Barr’s Daily Caller column about Gary Johnson. Our erudite fan writes
A vote for this party is a vote for Obama. Period. Consider yourselves responsible for the destruction of this country for good!
Except there is zero evidence that this is the case.
Gary Johnson’s calls to slash 43% of military spending, end the Drug War, and most importantly, unabashedly legalize same-sex marriage, none of which are positions held by most Republicans. Instead, those positions are decidedly liberal, more on the side of Obama’s supporters. So when people go to the polls this November, it is likely that he will draw more supporters from Obama’s camp than Romney’s.
Chris Barron, chair of GOProud, the GOP’s gay and lesbian group, said the same thing in an interview with the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis:
What all the GOP candidates are after, are so-called ‘delegates.’Elected officials that will broker the convention of either party this fall. Officials are parcelled by the amount of votes, the candidates receive in the primary.
During Michigan’s primary recently, for instance, there were 30 official delegates, state-wide. Two were ‘at-large’ candidates, which meant they could be assigned individually to any winning candidate. The other 28 were ‘proportional’ ones, alotted through 14 congressional districts. During the push for the nominations in Michigan last night, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spent millions of dollars to influence the voting population; with TV ads, pamphlets, media, interviews, rallies, stickers, and much more. Michigan’s grand sum of politcal expenditure was near six million bucks.
Delegates are what really counts at the GOP convention. What looks to be happening, is that no clear winner will come out victorious. There’s a righteous number: 1444 delegates will win any nominee the victory-nod of the Republican National Committee. Nationwide, 2169 delegates are extended for contestation, until the RNC celebration in Tampa, Florida. From the RN Committee, an additional 117 delegates are added into the mix, ostensibly to keep debate lively and clear-up dead locks. So what appears, on first looks, to be a rather hot-headed and fast paced Republican rocket-launch to the RNC, is more like a jammed or misfired pistol in a duel.
Momentarily, Mitt Romney is in the lead, with 167 total delegates. Rick Santorum is second with roughly half, at 87. Newt Gingrich won only one state and has 32, while Ron Paul has 19 carefully collected delegations. The count may reshuffle at any moment, since constitutionalism and populism together, ring alarm-bells in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
Fudgeknuckles. You can never be happy with politicians as a libertarian—just when they look like they’re on the path to true limited government, free markets, and individual liberty, they come out with something stupid like this:
“I believe marriage should be between one man and one woman,” Christie said. “I wouldn’t sign a bill like the one that was in New York.”
That sound you are hearing is my head slamming into my desk at Warp Six.
I admit, I was becoming a fan of Chris Christie. The way he was socking it to the parasitical public unions in New Jersey was inspiring. Sure, he was not perfect—he probably could have cut back more in some areas—but considering political inertia, he was doing a tremendous job.
Naturally, while I’m feeling really great about this guy, he throws a social conservative curveball just to keep me a grumbling libertarian.
The article does state that he will push for civil unions in New Jersey, as if, “Well, he’s not so bad.” But it is, in fact, horrific: what Christie is saying is that he supports discrimination based on sexual orientation, a boundary that says “You are not like us, you cannot be like us, you cannot have the same rights and privileges as us.” That’s a very disturbing thought. What I don’t understand is how it meshes with the small government ethos of most conservatives. Let’s end regulation and meddling in the economy, let’s make government smaller, cheaper, and more efficient—but then try and wedge it into the bedroom?
In a post yesterday, Louis DeBroux points to the election results in Iowa which resulted in the rejection of three members of the Iowa Supreme Court primarily due to a campaign that decried their votes in favor of a ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the state, as “one of the most important outcomes of the November 2010 elections.” While I agree with Louis that the rejection of three judges for doing their jobs is important, I have to strongly disagree that this is a positive development, or that it is ever a good idea to subject the judiciary so directly to the popular will of an often fickle majority.
Like the social conservative groups that led the fight to defeat the Iowa Justices, DeBroux seems most concerned with the fact that the Iowa Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling is out of sync with public will. However, that attitude completely misses the fact that one of the most important roles of the Judiciary is to stand as a bulwark agaisnt the whims of a majority seeking to impose its will on the minority in violation of their rights. The fact that a slim majority of Iowans might not support same-sex marriage is not, and should not, be relevant to the legal question of whether or not gay and lesbian couples have the right to be treated equally by the state when it comes to the benefits and privileges of the civil institution called “marriage.” In fact, it’s precisely because the majority doesn’t support it, that the right must be projected by the judiciary. That’s not “judicial activism,” it’s the judiciary doing its job.
Yesterday, Judge Vaughn Walker, who issued the opinion finding California’s Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional, lifted a stay on his decision allowing same-sex marriages to begin in the state on August 18th:
U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who overturned the measure on Aug. 4, agreed to give its sponsors until Aug. 18 to appeal his ruling to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Walker said that same-sex marriages may resume at that time unless a higher court blocks them.
Walker said the sponsors of Proposition 8 do not have legal standing to appeal his order because they were not directly affected by it.
In addition, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s and Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, the state’s highest officials and named defendants in the case, have told Walker that his ruling declaring the measure unconstitutional should be enforced immediately.
So, even though the stay was lifted, the proponents of Proposition 8 still have time to argue for a stay to be reinstated, which the Ninth Circuit court may decide to do until they’ve heard the case on appeal.