Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Social Conservatives and the GOP

One of the most common beliefs in American politics is the idea that the Republican Party sneers at the religious right, and that it is uninterested in advancing the social conservative agenda. This idea can be found on both the right and left—leftists sneer at social conservatives for being taken in so easily by a party that doesn’t care for them, while rightists angrily denounce the GOP and threaten to vote elsewhere next time (like there is anywhere else for them to go).

This meme is one of the most widely believed political theories—but is mostly false. The Republican party needs the Christian Right, and advances its agenda at least as much as it does that of any other part of the conservative movement.

Thirty-five years after Roe v. Wade, abortion is still legal across America, and Roe v. Wade has not been overturned. Republican presidents have not always appointed pro-life, constructionist justices—in fact, it has appointed almost as many pro-Roe justices as anti-Roe justices. It has often waffled in advancing the social conservative program. The Republican Party has not been a consistent friend of the pro-life movement.

But the pro-life movement has made some progress, and a great deal of that is due to the efforts of Republicans. When Roe v. Wade was decided, the Court ruled in a 7-2 decision. Were the case handled by the present-day Supreme Court, it would probably be a 5-4 pro-Roe decision, which is progress. The Republicans have put through a partial-birth abortion ban, strengthened parental notification laws, rescinded the Mexico City policy (which would provide foreign aid to pay for abortions), kept gay marriage from becoming legal in many states, and Bush, to his great credit, vetoed a bill providing federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. The Republican Party could undoubtedly do more for the pro-life cause, but they have certainly not wholly betrayed it either.

In fact, compared to the way it has treated other parts of the conservative movement, it has treated social conservatives pretty well. Small government conservatives are another major part of the GOP, and the Republican Party has completely ignored the wishes of this constituency.

Republicans always campaign on small government, minimal regulation, low taxes, and less wasteful spending. All they ever actually do is lower taxes. President Bush, along with many congressional leaders and GOP nominee John McCain, has expressed support for a “cap and trade” carbon emissions program, which would put limits on the amount of carbon dioxide companies could produce. That would entail a massive expansion of government.

Of course, the federal government has already done some serious expanding under the Bush administration. He has increased the federal debt by about four trillion since becoming president. The budget for this year is the highest in American history. The second highest? Last year’s budget. The GOP has sometimes ignored the wishes of social conservatives—it always completely disregarded libertarian conservatives.

Fortunately, it’s not just the right that ignores the wishes of some of its most important supporters. This sort of thing can be seen on the left as well. Liberals have been pushing for universal health insurance for decades. It seems fair and just, the rest of the world has it (and has had it for years), and the media is in favor of it. And all liberals got from the Democrat Party on this important issue was a quickly dropped proposal by Hillary Clinton to nationalize health care. Remember the SCHIP bill? The Democrats initially put up a fight, then immediately backed down after Bush threatened a veto. The Democrat Party has not pushed for national health care any harder than the GOP has fought against abortion.

Or take Iraq. It is key tenet of modern liberal thought to immediately pull all American troops from Iraq. Neither Democrat candidate will do so. Both candidates support keeping troops there long enough to stabilize the country—in essence, exactly what Bush plans to do.

Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are particularly concerned with actually doing anything to effect the change in policy that they promise before each election. They refuse to act partly because an unsolved problem means votes from those who care about that issue (for example, some social conservatives might defect to the Democrat if the abortion issue didn’t bind them to the Republican party), but also for a more simple reason: politicians don’t like change.

Change is bad, from a political standpoint, because it involves responsibility. If universal health care ever did become a reality, the Democrats would get blamed for all problems stemming from it. If abortion was ever made illegal, the Republicans would get blamed for every botched illegal abortion. Both parties claim to want to change America—but neither want to take responsibility for whatever the negative effects of these changes are.

Yes, social conservatives sometimes are ignored their party—but so are libertarians, anti-war liberals, universal health care supporters, and practically every other group of voters out there. The reason that Republicans don’t support the pro-life movement more ardently is not because they don’t care—it is because they are politicians.

24 Comments:

At May 14, 2008 at 7:47 PM , Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

youre right to clarify the distinctions and nuances..ty!

 
At May 15, 2008 at 4:40 AM , Blogger DD2 aka Debonair Dude said...

"Yes, social conservatives sometimes are ignored their party—but so are libertarians, anti-war liberals, universal health care supporters, and practically every other group of voters out there. The reason that Republicans don’t support the pro-life movement more ardently is not because they don’t care—it is because they are politicians."
-----------------------------------
Abortion is legal, but is it a Political issue or a Religious issue? or maybe even a Medical issue?
To me and to many others whatever it maybe, it should not be on any political platform.
It’s a issue that is decided by the States and by a persons personal beliefs. And I feel that’s the way it should be. It is not up to any politician to tell me or anyone else what to do in this case.
Clearly, abortion remains an important concern, one that remains in the priorities of religious conservatives. Old fashion? I think it is. I feel that abortion is a religious issue period. If there is any reason why a woman considering an abortion she should be concerned with her feelings personally and religiously, not politically. Maintaining the separation of church and state is vital .
What about the Conservative values, and believe that they, should have the right to choose In a free society everyone has the right to choose. Does that apply to everything except a women’s right to choose? Or do you have the “right to choose” as long as you choose to agree with the prevailing thought of the movement?
Abortion should be decided by the women herself, not by any political platforms.

 
At May 15, 2008 at 10:53 AM , Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said...

What about the Conservative values, and believe that they, should have the right to choose In a free society everyone has the right to choose. Does that apply to everything except a women’s right to choose? Or do you have the “right to choose” as long as you choose to agree with the prevailing thought of the movement?"

It ought to go without saying that we can very well apply such commentary to that block of conservative voters who remain opposed to voting for McCain.

 
At May 15, 2008 at 11:59 AM , Blogger Beth said...

As usual DD2 you have blinders on so you can only see your own point of view, the pro-life position is indeed a political one in that there are Americans whose right to life is being denied.

 
At May 15, 2008 at 12:24 PM , Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said...

There is another aspect of it as well in that taxpayer dollars are being allocated towards that cause. Granted, taxpayer dollars are being allocated for a whole host of things they ought not be allocated towards.

Still, it doesn't make it just.

 
At May 16, 2008 at 6:44 AM , Anonymous Matt said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At May 16, 2008 at 7:28 AM , Anonymous Matt said...

Sorry for all the typing and spelling mistakes. Let me try again, I guess I was in a rush before.
I would have deleted the other post, but I'm not aware of how to do so..

Be sure to take your meds before you post a comment Beth.

If that ain't a case of the Pot calling the kettle black.
Thank you for sharing your perspective as nutty as it could be.
You talk about "blinders"? You right wing religious nut are so blind that you can’t even see what DD2 has said here.
And that, " the pro-life position is indeed a political one in that there are Americans whose right to life is being denied"
What about everyone elses rights?
DD2 is the only one here that has made a bit of sense. And you are denying him and me and everyone else their rights. How typical right-wing. How can you even think of allowing a bunch of religious nuts control your life, or you sex life?
You Holier-than-thou religious nuts not only are forcing your religion upon all of us and all of you on this forum call "left wingers nuts" You right wingnuts, don’t know when to stop. You want to control the whole world with your silly old world beliefs. Religion makes people crazy, just like the Muslims. Clearly, we live in a free country and we should be allowed to think what best for OUR SELVES, not be told what to do by politions.
Let's see what else would you want to force on us all Beth, because of YOUR religiousphilia?
Complain at your PTA meetings about heathenous evolution claptrap. Heckle welfare moms in front of abortion clinic. Demand that we all have Morning prayers. Afternoon prayers. Evening prayers. Midnight snack prayers. Collect petitions to ban gay marriage, gay adoptions, and gay people. Convert your neighbors. Convert neighbor's dog. Listen to Focus on the Family. Homeschool your kids. Beat kids. Beat wife. Watch the Pearls and wisdom of Dr. Dobson and Dr. Phil.
I don't personally care what superstitious nonsense YOU subscribe to - unless you try to rub my face in it. So why don’t your right-wingers keep you religious beliefs in the church where it belongs, not in the political arena. And don’t try to undermine the right of others. As long as something is NOT against the law and is perfectly legal, then anyone has the right to do as they please with their own body.
As a Democrat, I am not at all encouraging anyone to have an abortion and I do strongly support family planning and adoption incentives. But if someone chooses to, and as longs as abortion is legal as I believe it should be, than people should have the right to do so without the permission of their local politician's permission. . It is not an accident that freedom of religion is one of the central freedoms in our Bill of Rights. Abortion is between a doctor and their patient, period! This is an issue that should not be one. It should have never been brought into the political arena.
The decision to have or not to have a baby is between a woman and her husband ( the father).
You right wingers are always complaining about the government having too much say in personal matters. Why let the government have control of a woman’s decision here?

Two days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Jerry Falwell, appeared on Pat Robertson’s “700 Club,” and he said “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.“

Beth, this is what happens when you try to make a point and you are not qualified to. I think you should stick to blogging about American Idol. You were kind of good at that

 
At May 16, 2008 at 8:16 AM , Blogger Beth said...

Matt - to delete an unwanted comment, all you need to do is click on the little garbage can at the bottom left of your comment (under the date stamp of your comment). Then you can click on a button to delete it.

 
At May 16, 2008 at 8:36 AM , Blogger Beth said...

I just noticed Matt you may not be able to delete your comment if you do not have a Blogger account, but Daniel would be able to delete the comment for you.

 
At May 16, 2008 at 10:21 AM , Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said...

To be fair Matt, I suppose the Social Conservatives could make the argument that those on the left are too culpable in the pursuit of their social agenda in the halls of academia, politics, and elsewhere.

Certainly I've seen more diversity based programs, GLBT studies, et al. than you could shake a stick at.

Of course as DD pointed out, alot of this need not exist or have a place in politics.

How might we achieve that? Well, for starters I think we could eliminate most (if not all) of it were we to get government back to focusing on its primary function.

 
At May 16, 2008 at 10:41 AM , Anonymous Matt said...

Spapbox, jsut a quick question, and and quick yes or no answer pleeze


are you Beth's attorney?

Why do you ALWAYS seem to answer for her?

 
At May 16, 2008 at 11:00 AM , Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said...

Nope. And really Matt, who's answering for her? She's perfectly capable of putting forth her own commentary as are you and as am I.

You posted your comments. And, this being an open forum, I think it perfectly acceptable that anyone feel free to post their comment or opinion on any of the material herein (at least I haven't heard from Daniel otherwise). That's precisely what I've done.

I wasn't aware that the course of discussion needed to sort of volley so specifically between your comment to Beth's comment and then back again. Forgive me for encroaching I suppose.

However, it rally seems to me that you have a problem with me putting in my $.02 with respect to what you posted.

In essence, you don't appear to be quite the advocate of free speech that you proclaim.

But, to make you feel better, rest assured that when Beth feels the inspiration or need to personally respond to your commentary, I'm inclined to think she'll do so.

 
At May 16, 2008 at 12:11 PM , Blogger Beth said...

Not inspired.

 
At May 17, 2008 at 9:19 AM , Anonymous Matt said...

Beth said that she's not inspired.

And I'm heartbroken.

 
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