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An appeal from a social conservative

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The scenario:
GOProud and some Tea Party leaders suggest social issues be backburnered.
Social Conservatives reject that proposal, sometimes snippily.
Food fight!!
Melissa Clouthier has a good post at Liberty Pundits calling this a “needless division.” And I agree, mostly. But not entirely.
One reason, as I’ve written previously, is because we’ve heard this before. While I think that some (most?) of this is good faith analysis of what we need as a country, there is a faction in the Republican party who really just want social conservatives to shut up and vote “right.” I also think, to steal a meme from Obama, we have a messaging problem.
The message seems to be that the only reason there is any “fuss” on social issues is because social cons won’t stop bringing them up. Really, we’re only making things worse by talking about these divisive issues all the time. Or something. Right.

Let’s just take the issue of abortion, the issue that I’m most familiar with and most passionate about.
Since 1973, there have been—conservatively—50 million abortions in this country. That’s 1/6th of the current population. Imagine every 6th person you meet gone. Moreover, support for abortion is the litmus test for support for many groups on the left and pretty much every “feminist” group. “Feminist” now meaning “rabidly enthusiastic about killing our young.” They did not look at the election results and say, “Oh my, the nation wants to talk economics. Let’s all take a vacation until people are paying attention again.” The debate goes on, the battle rages. The real questions are who frames the debate and what is the battle ground.
When pro-lifers frame the debate, the issues are things like the Partial-Birth Abortion Act, the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. We talk about the humanity of the unborn, about members of our human family that need and deserve protection, and about violent deaths of babies and harm done to mothers. The battleground is the humanity of unborn children and how abortion stops a beating heart. We move the ball forward. Every year, more and more people reject abortion and consider themselves to be pro-life. That’s the educational AND legislative efforts of the Right-To-Life Movement at work.
So what happens if we shut up and let pro-abortion groups frame the debate? Abortion advocates want to frame the debate in ways that completely obscures what abortion actually is. That’s why they use the phrase “pro-choice.” They don’t want to discuss what that choice is. They also want to frame the debate in ways that pit mother against child and born against unborn. The mantra of “Rape, Incest and Stem Cell Research” will be the rallying cry. Any discussion of what abortion actually does to mother and child will be non-existent. Policy will focus on “access” meaning mainly taxpayer funding, mandating training for doctors, and requiring hospitals to perform abortions. Moreover, this will happen mainly out of the public eye, through actions of the executive branch of government.
If the pro-life movement falls silent, we give Obama—the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history—free reign to implement disastrous policies without a fight. We understand what the 2010 mid-term elections were about, but frankly, pro-lifers have been in this fight for more than 40 years. One election doesn’t alter our long term strategy of eliminating abortion.
But yes, the mid-term elections were primarily about fiscal issues and the role of government. Still, there is a HUGE overlap of social conservatives and the Tea Party movement. I went to the April 2009 Dallas Tea Party wearing a “TANSTAAFL” t-shirt, not an advertisement for social issues, but rather focused on the fiscal disaster. Many social cons are also fiscal cons. To say that the GOP could have taken the house without social cons is silly for the simple fact that they are by and large the same people. (Yes, there are a few social conservatives who are okay with government being the boss of everyone. I probably less in common with them than with the fiscal conservatives that are socially liberal. But by and large, social conservatives agree with the goals of smaller government and fiscal responsibility. And yes, Sen. DeMint’s comment that you can’t be a fiscal conservative without being socially conservative was stupid. See: Libertarians.)
Now to the Messaging Problem: rather than telling social cons to shut up, ask them to join forces to work for the common goals of smaller government and fiscal responsibility. Not only is it “needlessly divisive” to alienate social cons, it’s really poor political strategy. Listen, social conservatives are organized, trained and motivated to do all the things that have to be done to actually effect policy, not just elect politicians. Honestly, that was the easy part. Getting your goals into law is the hard part.
This social con would love to see all social policy pushed back to the state and local levels. Make a case for that and you’ll win some support. People of all opinions on social issues can agree that tax dollars shouldn’t be funding controversial things—from abortion to NPR. (Abort NPR! No?) On Obamacare, the Right-To-Life Movement has serious experience from the Clinton Health Care battles, not only on abortion but also on health care rationing. We’ve also got grassroots established in every states and many more local groups, groups really good at flooding Congressional offices with calls.
I hope we win this war. I hope we get a smaller government and we stumble back from the brink of economic disaster. I know this: you can’t do it without the social conservatives, however much you may dislike the thought. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to alienate an important ally. And that advice goes to social conservatives, too.

One response to “An appeal from a social conservative”

  1. Man of the West Avatar
    Man of the West

    Well, I was going to make a comment about how folks that allegedly don't care about social issues have ideologically undercut themselves, that is, the same concept of unalienable rights undergirds both the right to life and the right to property and so forth, but it occurred to me that I wrote something similar after reading Derbyshire's We Are Doomed. So there it is, if you're interested.

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