Jim DeMint Was Right: “You Can’t Be A Fiscal Conservative And Not Be A Social Conservative” — At Least In The Senate


You can’t be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative. –Jim DeMint

In the wilds of the Internet, it’s not unusual to find Libertarians who are diehards about fiscal conservatism, but tend to be socially liberal. They wouldn’t call themselves socially liberal, of course — but they are. For example, if you favor making crack and abortions legal, you are making just as much of a moral judgment about those issues as social conservatives do in order to fomulate your position, even if you don’t want to admit it.

In any case, because there are plenty of people on the Internet and a few in government at the state level (See Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie) who are fiscally conservative, but not socially conservative, DeMint’s quote has caused a bit of upset in some quarters. After all, isn’t it OBVIOUSLY wrong? Moreover, don’t we all KNOW that most social conservatives aren’t fiscal conservatives? We’ve certainly heard it enough times, right?

Here’s the thing: I reject the conventional wisdom and agree with DeMint — at least when it comes to Congress. From what I’ve seen of Republicans on Capitol Hill, the fiscal conservatives and social conservatives tend to be one in the same. On the other hand, if you show me a Republican who’s not socially conservative, I’ll show you a Republican who’s probably not fiscally conservative either.

But, how can that theory be proven one way or the other? Well, in order to do just that, I decided to take a look at the 2009 congressional scorecards from the premier fiscal conservative organization in America, the Club for Growth, and the Congressional scorecards from a socially conservative organization, The Family Research Council. That way, we don’t have to rely on sound bites, speeches, or unproven claims; We can just flat out compare voting records.

The easiest, most effective, most comprehensive way to do this seemed to be to simply post the scores from both groups that were given to each Republican member of the Senate during 2009. That’s just large enough of a sample size to be relevant and just small enough to keep from overwhelming everyone with data. So, let’s take a look at the numbers (Some senators that didn’t serve out full terms didn’t make both scorecards and thus, were left off):

Jeff Sessions
Club for Growth: 100%
Family Research Council: 91%

Richard Shelby
Club for Growth: 83%
Family Research Council: 95%

Lisa Murkowski
Club for Growth: 82%
Family Research Council: 83%

Jon Kyl
Club for Growth: 94%
Family Research Council: 91%

John McCain
Club for Growth: 100%
Family Research Council: 95%

Mel Martinez
Club for Growth: 73%
Family Research Council: 69%

Chris Chambliss
Club for Growth: 100%
Family Research Council: 95%

Johnny Isakson
Club for Growth: 99%
Family Research Council: 91%

Mike Crapo
Club for Growth: 83%
Family Research Council: 95%

James Risch
Club for Growth: 94%
Family Research Council: 100%

Richard Lugar
Club for Growth: 76%
Family Research Council: 62%

Charles Grassley
Club for Growth: 91%
Family Research Council: 100%

Sam Brownback
Club for Growth: 85%
Family Research Council: 95%

Pat Roberts
Club for Growth: 93%
Family Research Council: 95%

Jim Bunning
Club for Growth: 96%
Family Research Council: 83%

Mitch McConnell
Club for Growth: 95%
Family Research Council: 100%

David Vitter
Club for Growth: 90%
Family Research Council: 95%

Susan Collins
Club for Growth: 60%
Family Research Council: 29%

Olympia Snowe
Club for Growth: 53%
Family Research Council: 29%

Thad Cochran
Club for Growth: 84%
Family Research Council: 87%

Roger Wicker
Club for Growth: 92%
Family Research Council: 100%

Christopher Bond
Club for Growth: 84%
Family Research Council: 75%

Mike Johanns
Club for Growth: 94%
Family Research Council: 87%

John Ensign
Club for Growth: 99%
Family Research Council: 91%

Judd Gregg
Club for Growth: 73%
Family Research Council: 66%

Richard Burr
Club for Growth: 96%
Family Research Council: 100%

George Voinovich
Club for Growth: 74%
Family Research Council: 62%

Tom Coburn
Club for Growth: 100%
Family Research Council: 91%

James Inhofe
Club for Growth: 100%
Family Research Council: 95%

Jim DeMint
Club for Growth: 100%
Family Research Council: 100%

Lindsay Graham
Club for Growth: 81%
Family Research Council: 79%

John Thune
Club for Growth: 99%
Family Research Council: 100%

Lamar Alexander
Club for Growth: 64%
Family Research Council: 83%

Bob Corker
Club for Growth: 84%
Family Research Council: 95%

John Cornyn
Club for Growth: 95%
Family Research Council: 95%

Kay Bailey Hutchison
Club for Growth: 81%
Family Research Council: 100%

Robert Bennett
Club for Growth: 79%
Family Research Council: 91%

Orrin Hatch
Club for Growth: 88%
Family Research Council: 100%

John Barasso
Club for Growth: 99%
Family Research Council: 100%

Mike Enzi
Club for Growth: 99%
Family Research Council: 95%

Just for comparison’s sake, the HIGHEST scoring Democrat on each scorecard was:

Club for Growth: Arlen Specter: 30%
Family Research Council: Ben Nelson: 33%

The average Family Research Council score of people who scored a perfect 100 on the Club for Growth scorecard? 94.5. The average Club for Growth score of the people who scored a perfect 100 on the Family Research Council scorecard? 93.5.

So, if we look at these numbers, what can we conclude?

We can conclude that in the Senate, there’s no such thing as a socially conservative, fiscally liberal senator. We also don’t see any socially liberal, fiscally conservative senators. Instead, what we see is exactly what I suggested — that the fiscal conservatives and social conservatives are the exact same people.

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