Q&A Friday #59: Why Is There A Correlation Between Social Conservatism And Fiscal Conservatism?

Question: “Hi, John. I was wondering why there is a correlation between social conservatism and fiscal conservatism.

In some ways, it makes more sense for fiscal conservatism to go with social liberalism, in that it is, if nobody minds a gross oversimplification, across the board “small government” (i.e. government should avoid legislating either how to spend your money OR how to live your life). On the other hand, the “big government party” would believe that we should legislate both how to spend your money AND morality.

Thoughts?” — jleit83

Answer: Setting aside the fact that there are some people who are for a small government stance across the board on fiscal and social issues, Libertarians, this is actually a very complex question. But, here’s a super simplified answer to it: it’s two parts politics and one part human nature/ideology.

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Politically, the Democratic Party isn’t a very friendly place for Christians. You have liberal bloggers ranting about Godbags, Jesusland, Christofascists, and theocracies, the ACLU attacking Christians at every turn, and a complete indifference to many of the issues that devoted Christians tend to care a great deal about like abortion, gay marriage, and Christianity being driven from the public square.

So, Christians look at that and quite understandably go, “Ugh, those liberals aren’t very friendly to people like me,” and they look to conservatives. What do they find? People who like them, listen to them, and generally agree with their views. The reverse is also true. A small government conservative is likely to get a fairer hearing from a diehard fan of Jerry Falwell than a rabid acolyte of Michael Moore.

Then, human nature being what it is, starts to take over. People like and pay more attention to other people whom they perceive to, “be like them.” So, fiscal conservatives will have a receptive audience when they talk to anti-abortion activists and a conservative pastor will find a pew full of fiscal conservatives to be a receptive audience. What does that lead to in the long run? Republicans who are more fiscally and socially conservative.

Incidentally, this works the same way in the Democratic Party as well. The greenie is more receptive to the feminist than a conservative and vice-versa, so they have a heavy influence on each other’s views as well.

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