by John Hawkins | September 21, 2010 12:13 pm
First it was Mitch Daniels who was out in public saying we need a “truce” on moral issues. This was an extraordinarily dumb thing for a man who wants to be President to say because many people, myself included, stuck him in the “I don’t know whom I’m supporting in 2012, but it won’t be him” pile the moment he said it.
Well, now Paul Ryan, whom I have great admiration for, is out there saying the same thing,
Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin became the latest potential presidential candidate and Republican with a national profile to call for a “truce” on social issues. He joins Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mississippi Gov. Hailey Barbour, who called for Republicans to back down on pro-life issues.
They say that, because of the downturn in the economy, Republicans and conservatives should back down on pressing social issues like abortion to avoid potentially turning off voters.
Ryan, the top Republican on the Budget Committee who has a strongly pro-life record and is viewed as a conservative who is very knowledgeable on health care issues, talked about the place social issues have in the election.
“We will agree to disagree on those issues,” Ryan said Monday on CNBC. “But let’s rally around the tallest pole in our tent: fiscal conservatism, economic liberty.”
…Ryan’s comments come after Daniels told the Weekly Standard the next president “would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues.”
“We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while,” by casting social issues like abortion aside so the next president can focus on fixing the beleaguered economy.
Daniels told WS reporter John McCormack “I don’t know,” when asked if he would issue the executive order every pro-life president has done by instituting the Mexico City Policy Obama revoked.
That caused such a stir that Daniels was forced to walk back the comments — later telling reporter Michael Gerson he would sign the Mexico City Policy but saying he would stick to his controversial comments calling for a “truce” on abortion.
And Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour faced his own backlash from pro-life advocates after saying at a breakfast on Wednesday that pro-life advocates should ditch social issues this election cycle in favor of focusing on the economy.
Now, I THINK I understand what these guys are trying to do. They’re looking out over the political landscape and they’re noticing that fiscal issues are really hot and people aren’t talking about social issues as much. So, they’re trying to maximize our advantage. “Oh, we’ll talk about our strong points and ignore those contentious social issues.”
Now, that makes a certain amount of sense. After all, if you’re in a district where everybody is talking about jobs and the economy, it makes sense to focus on the hot topics instead of the scarcely discussed social issues. Yet and still, you can easily do that without sending a signal to social conservatives that you don’t care about them. You note that you believe marriage is between man and a woman in your issues section. You tout your pro-life endorsement. It’s not so hard to send a message that says, “I may not be talking about these issues right now, but when it’s time to vote, I’ll be standing with you.”
When you talk about a “truce” or ask people to shove social conservatism in the closet, the message Christian conservatives hear is, “When I get into power, I’m going to betray you.”
Let me tell you something: Being pro-life and anti-gay marriage are every bit as much conservative values as being fiscally conservative. Let me repeat that: Being pro-life and anti-gay marriage are every bit as much conservative values as being fiscally conservative. So, if you are a diehard fiscal conservative who’s liberal on social issues, you’re just as out-of-step with the conservative movement as someone who’s socially conservative, but believes in big government.
This tends to be a point of controversy because of 3 common misperceptions people have.
The first is the mistaken belief that there are lots of people in office who are fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. While there are plenty of people like that in the wild, they are exceedingly rare in office. Show me a Republican in Congress who’s not socially conservative and at least 75% of the time, I’ll show you a Republican who’s not fiscally conservative either.
The second false belief is that most social conservatives aren’t fiscally conservative. While it’s true that people who define themselves as social conservatives may care more about abortion or protecting marriage than fiscal conservatism, in my experience, they overwhelmingly tend to be advocates of small government as well.
I believe the reason that this false belief has cropped up is because when fiscally irresponsible Republicans get in trouble with the base, one of the things they like to do is throw a sop to social conservatives to try to make up for it. They do that because it’s easy to condemn abortion or say something nice about Christianity, while it’s harder to cut off pork. Typically, this doesn’t work (See George W. Bush’s approval rating when he left office), but they still try it anyway.
Last but not least, because the media and entertainment industry in this country is hostile to Christianity, they consistently underrate the impact and power of Christianity and social conservatives. Social conservatives are a truly MASSIVE voting block and conservatives should understand that without their votes, fiscal conservatism cannot exist in this country. Of course, it’s also true that social conservatives need fiscal conservatives, too, but I generally don’t hear social conservatives kvetching all that much about the small government people.
Although I do personally disagree with hardcore social conservatives on some issues, we’re in the same place 90% of the time and moreover, I think Christian conservatives are the key to preserving the greatness of this country. But, even if you don’t see it that way and dislike social conservatives, your only option in the real world is to be in bed with social conservatism or socialism — and socialism is heavy into bondage. Probably not the kind you’ll find fun, either. So, choose well.
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