If You Have A Problem With Saving Terri Schiavo, You Have A Problem With Conservatism

by John Hawkins | March 29, 2005 3:40 am

One of the myths about conservatism is that there is a huge split between market based conservatives who’re primarily concerned about taxes, free trade, & deficit spending and social conservatives who’re only moved by issues like abortion, prayer in schools, and smut on TV.

This is for the most part untrue.

That’s not to say that there aren’t exceptions to the rule or an attempt to deny that some conservatives place a heavier emphasis on the culture war than economics & vice versa, but what you will find when cut through the hype is that there is a tremendous amount of overlap between these two groups.

We’ve seen this misconception played up to the hilt because of the controversy over the killing of Terri Schiavo, which is still ongoing.

Despite the propaganda that’s being tossed around on this case, the religious right is not driving this issue, the push is coming from plain old conservatives who’ve tried to spare Terri Schiavo’s life.

Want proof?

I’ve taken the time to try to put together a very basic list of those on the right who’re in the pro-death camp and those who oppose the government starving Terri Schiavo to death. There are some prominent folks who haven’t commented, who haven’t clearly come down on one side or the other, and certainly I may have missed a few people, but considering the vast size of the conservative movement, you’re never going to get a perfect reading when you try to see where everyone stands on this sort of case.

First of all, here are the prominent members of the right-of-center, pro-death lobby on this issue:

American conservatives William F. Buckley & Grover Norquist, British conservative John Derbyshire, Libertarians Neal Boortz & Glenn Reynolds, & Andrew Sullivan — if you even consider him to be a conservative, which I personally don’t.

On the other hand, the group that favors saving Terri Schiavo’s life includes the Republican Congress which voted 156-5 in favor of having her case looked at in the Federal Courts, Jeb Bush, Florida’s Republican legislature which has already attempted to save Terri’s life multiple times, and the President himself, George Bush.

Now, here’s a list of just some of the right-of-center radio talk show hosts, talking heads, & pundits who believe Terri Schiavo shouldn’t be killed without at least making more of an effort to find out whether she’s truly in a persistent vegetative state:

Glenn Beck, William Bennett, Pat Buchanan, Linda Chavez, Ann Coulter, Vox Day, Joseph Farah, John Gibson, Hugh Hewitt, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Jack Kelly, Alan Keyes, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, Larry Kudlow, G. Gordon Liddy, James Lileks, David Limbaugh, John Leo, Rush Limbaugh, Lopez, Kathryn Jean, Rich Lowry, Michelle Malkin, Michael Medved, Brendan Miniter, Peggy Noonan, Jay Nordlinger, Robert Novak, Bill O’Reilly, John Podhoretz, Dennis Prager, Wesley Pruden, Michael Savage, Joe Scarborough, Thomas Sowell, Ben Stein, Mark Steyn, & Cal Thomas.

Two things about that list:

#1) The size of it dwarfs the “pro-starvation crowd” list.

#2) The majority of the conservatives listed are not considered to be members of the “religious right” per se. To the contrary, the people who believe we should err on the side of life in this instance make up the Creme de la Creme of the conservative movement in this country.

Given that, I’d suggest that if you have a problem with the Republicans who have stood up for Terri Schiavo, you don’t have a problem with the “religious right,” you have a problem with conservatism.

That’s not to say that people who label themselves conservatives can’t disagree. There are self-labeled conservatives who are pro-abortion, who favor high taxes, who want bigger government, who oppose free trade, on and on and on. That doesn’t mean they’re bad people, they just disagree with most other conservatives on those issues. So it is in this case — with one important difference from the norm.

If you’re looking for the line of demarcation in this case with conservatives/Republicans, it’s not between social conservatives and market based conservatives, it’s for the most part between those of us on the right who’ve been informed of the many troubling details of this case and those of us who haven’t. Slowly, but surely, the word is getting out despite the best efforts of the mainstream media, and you will see opinions change as the facts come out. But sadly, Terri Schiavo is going to be killed in the interim…

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