social conservatism

LA Gov. Bobby Jindal: Get Government Out of Birth Control

//], via Wikimedia Commons

In an excellent piece urging that oral contraception become available over the counter that ran in this morning’s print edition of the Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required), Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, whose résumé includes a litany of health policy wonkery, sounded the death knell of both big government’s dominion over one aspect of reproductive health, and the pharmaceutical industry’s influence over that policy. Further, Jindal’s position masterfully bridges the gap between social conservatives and libertarians, as it accounts for both market-based health care (vs. Obamacare) and the protection of religious liberty and conscience (also vs. Obamacare). Here’s an excerpt:

Can the GOP ignore social conservatives?

For years it has been conventional wisdom that the GOP needs the votes of social conservatives to win elections.  Defined loosely, a “social conservative” is someone who has very traditional, restrictionist views on so-called “social issues” like abortion and same-sex marriage.  These voters are mostly white and evangelical Christians.  They support strong restrictions on abortion and oppose any recognition of gay couples.  In short, they are basically anti-libertarians.  As such, the moderate wing of the party has always them as a necessary but disliked coalition partner.

In recent years, though, the tide has started to turn against this strategy.  The portion of the electorate that votes strictly on social issues is shrinking.  Attitudes are changing on gay rights and, while the country tends to lean pro-life, it’s fairly clear that most voters are repulsed by the extreme views held by some pro-life polticians.  It’s clear, then, that the GOP can’t rely on anti-gay rhetoric and severe positions on abortion to win.

The call, then, naturally is coming from those who never even liked social conservatives to push this portion of the voting population to the wayside.  Some, like my colleague Jeremy Kolassa, argue that the GOP should entirely ignore social conservatives.  The thinking goes that moderating on abortion and gay rights will gather enough new votes to make it possible to live without hardline social cons.

Rick Santorum and JFK

Peter Mains is a blogger, political activist and technology consultant living and working in the Phoenix metro area. In his free time, he enjoys writing music, reading voraciously, and trying exotic food.

Rick Santorum’s comments to George Stephanopoulos about John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech to the Houston Ministerial Association are making the rounds. Apparently, the speech so unnerved Rick, that he wanted to throw up. He thinks you should be just as offended as he is, In the interview, Santorum encouraged people to look the speech up and decide for themselves. Having followed Santorum’s suggestion, I couldn’t disagree more.

The worst part is, I want to root for Rick Santorum. Recent revelations paint Kennedy as something of a moral monster. In contrast, Rick Santorum seems like a good family man. When it comes to religious matters, one might think that Santorum would come out on top. Nevertheless, JFK wipes the floor with Santorum — even from beyond the grave.

The one point where I am ambivalent in regard to Kennedy’s speech is his insistence that government not give any funding to religious institutions whatsoever. Bush’s faith-based initiatives and various voucher programs show that public funds can be redirected to religious institutions without creating a de facto established church or violating freedom of religious exercise. Nevertheless, such issues could be completely avoided if we were to reform education, healthcare and so on such that government gets out of those businesses altogether.

Why The Libertarian-Conservative Alliance Can’t Survive Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum, after his recent wins in Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri; appears to be the GOP frontrunner. If you look at Santorum’s record and rhetoric, he would appear to be the best fit for the Republican Party. Indeed, it is almost hard now not to imagine a scenario where Santorum is not the nominee.

However, if the GOP decides to nominates him, it will put an end to the fiction that the GOP is a limited government party. It will also put an end to what is left of the conservative-libertarian alliance.

Santorum is the only candidate running for president who is openly hostile to libertarianism. Santorum’s record is abysmal on fiscal issues. He voted for the Medicare prescription drug entitlement, No Child Left Behind, numerous earmarks and pork barrel projects, voted against NAFTA and is generally opposed to free trade. His proposals on foreign aid have won praise from Bono, the rest of the Third World poverty pimps, and their allied Tranzi NGOs. The Sweater Vest also wants to maintain a tax code that is riddled full of deductions and loopholes rewarding selected constituencies, instead of proposing a simpler system that is fairer to all. Rick Santorum, far from being the next Reagan, appears to be a compassionate conservative in the mold of George W. Bush. Finally, Rick Santorum last summer in a speech declared war on libertarians.

In a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in Harrisburg last summer, Santorum declared, “I am not a libertarian, and I fight very strongly against libertarian influence within the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”

A shift toward libertarianism

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver points to a recent CNN poll showing that the public shifting more towards libertarian ideas (emphasis mine):

Since 1993, CNN has regularly asked a pair of questions that touch on libertarian views of the economy and society:

Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?

Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?

A libertarian, someone who believes that the government is best when it governs least, would typically choose the first view in the first question and the second view in the second.
[I]n CNN’s latest version of the poll, conducted earlier this month, the libertarian response to both questions reached all-time highs. Some 63 percent of respondents said government was doing too much — up from 61 percent in 2010 and 52 percent in 2008 — while 50 percent said government should not favor any particular set of values, up from 44 percent in 2010 and 41 percent in 2008. (It was the first time that answer won a plurality in CNN’s poll.)

Actually, GOP could—and should—ignore social conservatives

Of all the post-election autopsies I’ve read, this one may be the silliest. It is definitely an excercise in sticking one’s head in the sand, of deliberately ignoring what is going on around you. But since it is written by the President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, maybe I can give Richard Land some slack. Maybe. I mean, after all, it’s not like he’s going to say “Ignore me!” is he?

Here is what Mr. Land writes, in the New York Times of all places (so I suppose he’s just consigned himself to hell for writing in there):

The G.O.P. must not, and cannot, ignore its foundation and base. Exit polls show that white evangelicals made up 26 percent of the electorate, 3percent more than in 2004. Furthermore, these evangelicals voted for Mitt Romney in virtually the same percentages as the governor’s fellow Mormons (78 percent for Romney vs. 21 percent for President Obama, according exit polls by Edison Research). Obama received 26 percent of evangelical votes in 2008.

On the pro-life and same-sex-marriage issues it should also be remembered that while Obama won the total Catholic vote 50 percent to 48 percent, he won Hispanic Catholics 75 percent to 21 percent, while Romney won non-Hispanic Catholics 59 percent to 40 percent. On the issue of same-sex-marriage, the pro-same-sex-marriage forces did win their first electoral victories, but they did so in four liberal states: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. And, in all four cases they won by relatively small margins in spite of having outspent their opponents by margins approaching nine to one.

Social Conservatism is Going Out the Door

His Frothiness

Michelle Fields, the Daily Caller’s star reporter and a frequent contributor to Fox News, has a great blog post on what is happening to the GOP, and where it is going:

The biggest threat to conservatives right now is President Barack Obama, but the long-term threat to conservatism is an internal threat– young republicans. The RNC is doing everything in its power to prevent them from gaining power, but will it work?

If you were to talk to any reporter covering this year’s election they’ll tell you that most of the attendees at GOP events are over 40 years old. You can’t help but ask yourself “where are the young people?” Well, they’re organizing a libertarian take-over.

Young republicans aren’t on board with social conservatism, instead we’re seeing an unprecedented level of enthusiasm for libertarianism.  Many of my conservative colleagues will argue that, “ah, this is just a phase amongst young republicans.” But being socially liberal isn’t a phase. What we’re seeing is a cultural shift that is inevitably going to force the Republican Party to make some major adjustments. For example, take gay marriage— Millennials have grown up a time where it’s no longer taboo to be openly gay. Our favorite films and television shows have gay characters. Some of the most prominent figures in American culture are openly gay. And if you look at the polls, public opinion has moved sharply in favor of gay marriage in recent years with 76% of 18-34 year olds saying that the law should recognize same sex marriage.

Rand Paul’s strange, frustrating social conservatism

Rand Paul has generally been a good ally for libertarians in the Senate.  However, much like his father, he has more than a shade of social conservative in him.  Sadly, this side has been rearing its head more often lately.

Last month, Senator Paul made some very offensive remarks regarding President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage, stating he didn’t think the president’s views “could get any gayer”.  And now, the Senator is trying to attach a totally irrelevant “personhood” amendment to an unrelated bill.

For those not familiar with these laws, the intent is to define life as beginning at fertlization. The effect would be to not only make abortion totally illegal, but to also have an impact on such things as contraception, some fertility treatments, and some forms of stem cell research.  Suffice it to say it could have ramifications far beyond abortion and would likely be an unmitigated disaster.  It certainly is not the kind of thing someone who believes in a limited federal government would propose.

Now, I am definitely more sympathetic to the pro-life cause than most libertarians.  I believe the country would be better off moving towards a mindset that views abortion as something to be avoided.  While I don’t believe it will ever go away, there is nothing wrong in my mind with making the case it is morally objectionable.  However, my support comes to an abrupt halt when things like this are suggested.  There are few problems that are best solved through heavy-handed government action; and the problems that the federal government should attempt to solve are even more sparse.

Top GOP Pollster Tells GOP To Wake Up

Andrew Sullivan posted this fascinating memo over the weekend from a top Republican pollster to Republican party officials and candidates about same-sex marriage. In short, here are its conclusions:

Recommendation: A statement reflecting recent developments on this issue along the following lines:

“People who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle, as I do, will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples; gay and lesbian couples should not face discrimination and their relationship should be protected under the law. People who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can agree, at the same time, that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits.”

That’s right, folks: the GOP should embrace same-sex marriage.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the GOP needs to drop the social conservatism angle if it intends to survive as a viable party.

By all means, if it wants to become the Constitution Party, it may continue to demonize gays and lesbians and agitate against people who desire abortions. But the longer it does that, the less and less support it will get from the general public.

Gradually, Americans have realized that gays and lesbians are people too, and deserve to be treated equally under the law. While I still don’t like having the government stick its hand into marriages, as long as it does, homosexuals and bisexuals should receive equal treatment as heterosexuals do.

Republicans Must Repudiate Santorum and Social Conservatism

I wrote last year that Ron Paul had to repudiate Lew Rockwell if he was going to get anywhere. Last I checked, he didn’t follow my advice (unless that one missed call from an unknown number was his personal cell and he was trying to get in touch with me), though it would be the height of arrogance for me to suggest that it was that particular bit which led to his defeat in Iowa.

But it might be less arrogant to suggest that, if the Republican Party doesn’t follow what I’m about to say, they will throw the 2012 election and perhaps relegate themselves to a non-party as early as 2024.

In a nutshell, the Republican Party must repudiate Rick Santorum, refuse to grant him the nomination, and simultaneously expel the social conservatives from the party and embrace true limited government, free market, essentially libertarian principles.

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