Q&A Friday #42: Why These Issues?

Question: “A question to consider for Friday: Why is it with record deficits, a decaying public school system, a tax code that favors the lawyers, and rampant earmarking in congress, conservative bloggers spend their time on constitutional amendments about marriage and flag burning? Why not push for a 2 year budget cycle, or an amendment for the line item veto? The conservative cause loses social liberals (that is, leave me alone!!!) who are fiscal conservatives when they legislate behavior rather than process, what say you?” — BradStev2

Answer: Four things:

#1) I haven’t observed bloggers spending an inordinate amount of time talking about the marriage and flag burning amendments.

#2) On the other hand, Congress has taken the time to deal more thoroughly with those issues and I don’t agree with the people who say they should be working on “more important matters.” In fact, I’d like to see both Amendments make it through Congress and the Flag Amendment is actually fairly close to doing so. Also, in both cases, because there is a very partisan split, the votes allow people to get a better idea of where both parties stand on gay marriage and flag burning, which is a good thing from my perspective. Last but not least, Congress can’t spend all day, every day, working on whatever the issue du jour is. It’s their job to deal with a wide range of issues, great and small, and you also have to remember that what people think is important is largely dependent on how much they care about what is being debated. As long as Congress isn’t getting into really silly issues or areas they shouldn’t be in to begin with, I don’t have a big problem with the things they choose to debate. Now, how they vote after that debate, that may be a different matter.

#3) When you’re talking about issues on a blog, you can talk about things that aren’t in the news sometimes, but if you try to consistently push issues that aren’t hot and that have no momentum, you’re just tilting at windmills. In other words, there’s a point to regularly hammering on a topic like a Houston hospital pulling the plug on Andrea Clark, Harriet Miers, or illegal immigration — but not much of a point to doing more than briefly touching on issues like the, “2 year budget cycle, or an amendment for the line item veto.” Some issues you may have an outside chance of making a difference on and others you don’t.

#4) There are people in the Republican Party who don’t like it when the GOP tackles social issues like gay marriage, abortion, or “family values” — however, there are lots of social conservatives who get upset when those issues aren’t treated seriously. In other words, it’s a big tent party and everyone needs to feel their issues are getting a fair shake. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there, on both sides of the “leave me alone”/social conservative divide who disagree, but I think the GOP does a not perfect, but pretty good job of trying to address the concerns of social conservatives without going overboard and getting puritanical or preachy.

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