Skip to comments.Social Conservatism
Posted on 08/04/2006 9:03:45 PM PDT by traviskicks
Posted 8/1/06 (By Travis)
8/1/06 Neoperspectives.com In principle, Conservatives and Libertarians see eye to eye in regards to economic freedom. They believe that individual Americans will collectively spend their own money much more efficiently and benefit society more than government spending. They believe burdensome regulations limit prosperity and harms business. They understand the harmfulness of socialized health care and retirement schemes.
However, there seem to be differences in scope between the two ideologies. Conservatives don't seem to have the same degree of, for lack of a better word, anti-governmentism. They don't seem to realize the degree which government spending and social programs routinely, if not always, accomplish the opposite of their intentions.
Thus, it is somewhat natural Social Conservativism should exist. Social Conservatives generally believe government is just focused on the wrong things; they believe government intervention itself is not the problem, but rather a liberal, pun intended, use of government is desirable and necessary to maintain order and increase morality in society. Incidentally, and as we might expect, Social Conservatives also tend to be the weakest along the spectrum of economic Conservatism and may also oppose free trade and immigration etc...
It goes without saying, the intentions of Social Conservatives are just as pure and good as the intentions of liberals with their collectivism and social programs. However, IMHO, the fact is that, just like liberals, Social Conservatives actually work against their own ideals; their bills and legislations accomplish the opposite of their intentions. Instead of government acting as a moral beacon, as they had hoped, it instead injects a dose of immorality into society, which varies directly with the degree of activism by the Social Conservatives. Thus, ironically, the more powerful Social Conservatives become, the further they will drive society from their goals. Of course, this is somewhat difficult to quantify as their actions may be statistically obscured by positive economic Conservatism and the resulting economic freedom. Indeed, economic freedom, for example freedom from welfarism, plays a vastly greater role in the making of a prosperous moral society, which is why Libertarians generally side with Conservatives on most issues. Still, the priorities and actions of Social Conservatives are harmful, if occasionally practically tolerable, and need to be examined and elucidated, which is the point of this piece. :)
Justice Janice Rogers Brown said:
Some things are apparent. Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege; war in the streets; unapologetic expropriation of property; the precipitous decline of the rule of law; the rapid rise of corruption; the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit. The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible.
Notice Justice Brown did not make the distinction of 'how' government moves in; she does not distinguish between economic and social interventions:
Teens More Likely To Try Marijuana After Viewing Feds' Anti-Pot Ads, Study Says
5/11/06 NORML First, let's look at intentions:
The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, initiated by Congress in 1998, has spent more than $2 billion in taxpayers' money and matching funds producing and airing anti-marijuana advertisements, including several alleging that the use of cannabis funds international terrorist activities.
The funny thing, if you find it humorous, is that cannabis funds, and drug money in general, is tied to terrorism, as well as increases in violence and general societal destruction; but, this is not because of 'drugs' or marijuana, it is because government has made drugs and marijuana illegal! It is the very illegality of these substances that breeds the terrorism and violence! Again, government can blame only itself. Now, let's look at the results of these ads and spending:
Investigators found that viewers expressed significantly fewer negative attitudes toward marijuana after viewing the ads. No such "boomerang effect" was noted among those who viewed anti-tobacco advertising.
""It appears that ... anti-marijuana public statement announcements used in national anti-drug campaigns in the US produce immediate effects [that are the] opposite [of those] intended by the creators of this campaign," authors concluded."
The criminals and drug dealers who peddle drugs should thank the US government for advertising for them (after they thank them for the cheap labor and 'tax breaks'). The point is that this attempt by government, and Social Conservatives, whose support for this sort of action dates back to the failures of prohibition, again accomplished the opposite of their intention.
In actuality, those who have seen firsthand the scourge of drugs, who abhor drug use, who passionately care about the youth of today and the current drug problem, should be the most ardent proponents of legalization.
This sort of counterintuitiveness reminds me of the Children's Defense Fund, a liberal organization that vehemently opposed Welfare Reform in the name of 'the children', in effect working to hurt the very children they were trying to get funding and government intervention for. Their opponents were labeled as 'uncaring', 'greedy', and 'racist'.
Similarly, those opposing the Social Conservative agenda are sometimes labeled 'potheads' and 'porn lovers' and promoters of the 'homosexual agenda'. As with Welfare Reform, it becomes impossible to rationally debate a policy when your opponents are unwilling to recognize that you both share a hope for the same results and possess the same intentions.
The most unfortunate consequence of the Social Conservative movement, IMO, is that the apparent lack of understanding of how harmful the federal government is economically, has led Social Conservatives to place mistaken priority on their social agenda. This dilutes the pressure economic conservatives and libertarians can exert on politicians. It also leads to some of the silliest, ridiculous, acts of government one can imagine:
The Whizzinator: A House Panel's No. 1 Priority
6/28/05 Washington Post
Every so often, in the hushed galleries of Congress, history unfolds in a manner that casts the momentous business of Capitol Hill in stark, even humbling relief. Then there are moments spent discussing the Whizzinator.
Onlookers stifle cackles and snickers, or try to. "People want to make this a skit on 'Saturday Night Live,' " says Rep. Joe Barton. But it's not funny, the Texas Republican says, not funny at all.
Congressmen Propose Steroid-Testing Bill
5/25/05 Associated Press
Athletes in the four major U.S. professional leagues would be subject to two-year bans for a first positive drug test under legislation proposed Tuesday that would put the sports' steroid policies under the White House drug czar.
Bar Sweep Sparks Controversy
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission sent a message to bar patrons last week.
TABC agents and Irving police swept through 36 Irving bars and arrested about 30 people on charges of public intoxication. Agency representatives say the move came as a proactive measure to curtail drunken driving.
North Texans interviewed by NBC 5, however, worried that the sweep went too far.
At one location, for example, agents and police arrested patrons of a hotel bar. Some of the suspects said they were registered at the hotel and had no intention of driving. Arresting authorities said the patrons were a danger to themselves and others.
"Going to a bar is not an opportunity to go get drunk," TABC Capt. David Alexander said. "It's to have a good time but not to get drunk."
D.C. Seeks Sales Ban On Violent Games
2/3/05 Washington Post
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and most D.C. Council members say they want to ban the sale of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors, linking the popular games to juvenile violence.
Justices question Southern Nevada anti-prostitution ordinance
State Supreme Court justices questioned Wednesday whether high school cheerleaders trying to flag down motorists for a car wash might run afoul of a broadly written ordinance targeting pushy Las Vegas-area prostitutes.
5/7/06 New York Times
But recently, as the conservative tide has continued to swell, this campaign has taken on a broader scope. Its true beginning point may not be Roe but Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 case that had the effect of legalizing contraception. "We see a direct connection between the practice of contraception and the practice of abortion," says Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, an organization that has battled abortion for 27 years but that, like others, now has a larger mission. "The mind-set that invites a couple to use contraception is an antichild mind-set," she told me. "So when a baby is conceived accidentally, the couple already have this negative attitude toward the child. Therefore seeking an abortion is a natural outcome. We oppose all forms of contraception."
Senate Passes Legislation on Schiavo Case
3/20/06 Associated Press
The Senate passed a bill that could prolong Terri Schiavo's life while a federal court considers her case while House Republicans, stymied by Democrats, scrambled to bring enough lawmakers back to the Capitol for an emergency vote early Monday.
GOP leaders planned a House vote just past midnight, hours after the Senate approved the bill by voice vote. President Bush rushed back from Texas for a chance to sign the measure. [which he did at 1:11am in the morning]
Can you believe it? The senior whitehouse staff, the president of the United States, and the Congress have to come back to Washington and are up all hours of the night over what was essentially a he said she said family dispute (Terri Schiavo case). This is what the Federal Government and our elected representatives consider an 'emergency'? This micromanaging and blatant intrusion of the Federal government into family matters should abhor, rather than excite Social Conservatives. What a disgrace, that this was a priority for elected officials, rather than battling the pervasive socialism that exists in the United States.
Town won't let unmarried parents live together
The City Council has rejected a measure allowing unmarried couples with multiple children to live together, and the mayor said those who fall into that category could soon face eviction.
Olivia Shelltrack and Fondrey Loving were denied an occupancy permit after moving into a home in this St. Louis suburb because they have three children and are not married.
Gay-Adoption Ban In Florida to Stand / Justices Decline to Hear Challenge
1/11/2005 Washington Post (Florida 'Republican' controlled Legislature passes a law banning gay couples from adopting)
The Florida plaintiffs argued there is no reason to deny all gays the right to adopt at a time when the state lacks homes for 8,000 children.
But the state replied in its brief, "Petitioners never showed that the gay adoption provision has ever limited the number of adoptions in any statistically significant way."
This is perhaps the worst result of Social Conservative lawmaking. They seem to believe that kids are better off in a state home than with gay parents. Again, they don't understand the true enemy is the STATE! The worst place for kids to be raised is the state - by definition! This has been shown over and over again from the atrocities in Romanian and Chinese orphanages, where thousands of children grew up brain damaged, to the horrific state run orphanages here in the US. Yet, these lawmakers are somehow considered strong on 'family values' by Social Conservatives.
Speaking of 'family values', in 'Secondary Problems of Socialism', I address the issue of socialized marriage and some of the hurtful government interventions contained therin. It is the government intervention which has corrupted and harmed this sacred institution, more government intervention is not needed to fix it! The current defining and licensing of marriage by government, the pervasive tax incentives and disincentives for both marriage and single mothers, divorce laws encouraging 'gold digging', and other incentives to break apart marriage, all combine, along with welfare and other redistributionist type policies (again, economics play the greatest role), to lessen family values, to cheapen marriage, and to place it into the hands of government, rather than God.
Indeed, this is the strangest part of Social Conservatism, the religious and spiritual overtones, from which many of their beliefs and resulting legislative efforts are apparently derived. In describing the spiritual founding of the United States, I previously wrote:
Finally, they [the founders] wrote laws that removed the King and eliminated the artificial Middle-Man between the common man and God. Each man was the King of his own private property, including his physical body, and thereby only answerable to God, not government. What took place was a massive decentralization of power to the individual.
The idea that one answers to God and not government is quite a powerful one. By assuming that man can and should enforce God's will upon the people, Social Conservatives are operating on a number of faulty premises.
First, they are assuming they, and not the 'common man', are closest to God and understand His will best. This indirect condescension is analogous to the liberal intellectual who believes he can spend your money better than you. Moral currency, if you will, is best left for the common man to accumulate and spend.
Second, common sense dictates, and the scriptures of all religions pontificate, that morality is something that must be chosen, hence the apparent phenomena of free will. Forcing God, or their version of Him, on the populace, will not change hearts or minds. In fact, it may alienate investigation of many of the positive principles Social Conservatives profess. God/morality is found or chosen from within. Similarly, by forcibly confiscating money from the populace to invest in 'charity', liberals make the same mistake. In the words of Calvin Coolidge, Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.
Or, as Albert Jay Nock said:
Once we might have been inclined to give a quarter to a beggar. Now, however...we might tell him that the State has confiscated our quarter for his benefit, and that he might as well go to the State about it.
With government providing 'morality' for the society, what need is there for activist citizens to educate others and band together to voluntarily spread moral messages? What need is there to independently investigate right and wrong, if the government provides such 'information'? And, most importantly, who wants morality to be under political control? Heh heh... I wonder how Social Conservatives would feel if Republicans lost congress and the presidency after they decreed the Federal Government in charge of morality...
Thirdly, Social Conservatives believe that without government people are not 'good' enough or moral enough to live their lives and individually raise the level of morality in society. Liberals believe people would not donate or help those who 'need' such help if it weren't for government. Both lines of thinking are incorrect.
Fourthly, some Social Conservatives may concede most of society would be fine or even better without government coercion, yet, a small minority would 'fall through the cracks'. Thus, laws must exist to ensure the 'proper behavior' of the deviant few. Does this not sound similar to liberal rhetoric? In order to make us 'equal', in order to 'save the poorest of the poor', liberalism instead makes everyone equally miserable. Attempting to 'save' the weak by tearing down the strong ends up destroying everyone. Social Conservatives must be disciplined enough to respect the freedom and choices of the deviant few, with an understanding that pursuing cracks will bring the house down. It is how the world is and any action on the part of government will only increase this deviance.
Fifthly, this propensity to be 'outraged' and obsess about the behavior of others is symptomatic of a lack of appreciation for the wonderfulness of our society and culture, ie searching for cracks, insecurity from within, and excessive emotional attachment to cultural events (Schaivo). When liberals hear about a 'wrong' somewhere, the first thing they want to do is pass a law, confiscate some money, and get government involved.
Finally, and most controversially, as if this blend of politics and religion hasn't been controversial enough :), I need to touch on the similarities and differences between churches and governments. Let me start by stating that, although I don't belong or subscribe to any particular one (per se), I am a big fan of churches and religious organizations. From the beginning of history they have provided a needed balance and protection against the despotic power of government. From the Pope in the middle ages, to the Catholic Church in Poland and Cuba, to the, largely, protestant founders of the United States, as long as church and state remain separate (an unaddressed problem in many Muslim Countries), a church and/or religion(s) provides a powerful check and balance on runway political control.
With that said, there are similarities between governments and large organizations such as churches. A church, similar to a government, will take tithes for them, not you, to spend as they see fit. Churches have issued pronouncements of morality, which the members generally follow, relieving them of the trouble of arriving at their own conclusions, encouraging conformity, and limiting innovation. This is analogous to the government issued propaganda we are subject to in the media and public schools. Like government politicians, the leadership of churches and religious organizations may focus on numerical membership and their own positions of authority, and the importance of the message (spiritual teachings) becomes twisted to emphasize the messenger (the uniqueness of that church or preacher). There is often a certain communalism present, which manifest as both a strength and a weakness.
It cannot be stressed enough that, although comparable, these actions are vastly inferior in scale to those of governments, the main reason being that people are generally free to come and go within religions and churches. However, sometimes families, peers, and culture, act as conforming pressures to retain membership in religious organizations one may not entirely agree with. It is somewhat ironic to hear our friends on the left point out the atrocities, stagnations, doublethinks, etc... committed by churches and religious organizations, as these pale juxtaposed to the historical crimes and grievances committed by expansive government. In fact, many of these so-called crimes were the actions of church and state combined.
In any event, the aggregate effect of some of the negative connotations in churches/religious organizations may be responsible for aspects of the Social Conservative movement. This is not to say all or even most Churches or religious organizations possess the described characteristics to any significant degree. I also concede church membership can be as diverse and varied in their viewpoints and beliefs as anywhere else. Even in Churches and religious organizations penetrated by pervasive corrupting influences, it may be the case that their benefit to society and to individuals still overshadow the negatives.
In conclusion, the degrees of separation between the similarities found in Churches and religious organizations and governments are reflected in the exponential differences in erroneousness of liberalism vs Social Conservativism, whose followers generally have some vestige of the more important concept of economic freedom.
The above is the opinion of the author and subject to change. :)
Bangert wrote some comments on 'Social Conservatism', which are reprinted here in full and added to 'Social Conservatism':
I recently read a post by Travis about how social conservatives differ from his brand of libertarians. I agree with much of what he wrote. Travis proclaims to not be a member of any organized religion, which is fine with me, but as a practicing Catholic, I want to add a few of my thoughts on the subject.
Sadly, most social conservatives do not realize that by using the powers of government to enact Gods will they themselves commit a sin on their own terms. As most social conservatives are Christian, a quote from the bible is certainly appropriate:
Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, "I shall give to you all this power and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me." Jesus said to him in reply, "It is written: 'You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.'" Luke 4:5-8
Where many looked for a Messiah to conquer and achieve temporal power, Jesus specifically rejected that option and equated it with worshiping false gods. A government, even a Christian government, cannot achieve good. Only individuals can achieve good when they freely choose to do so. The best we can hope for from government is to provide order and security so that individuals are free to choose good or choose evil.
At that point, it is up to the faithful to try to convince others to choose good, with the understanding that as humans many will in fact choose evil. The emphasis must be on individual choice. Without the opportunity to choose evil there can be no opportunity to truly respond to Gods grace.
For this reason, I think that Travis correctly differentiated between the nature of religious organizations and governments. Religious organizations call people to choose to worship God in response to his grace.
Governments offer no such choice. Governments will enforce their laws, forcibly if necessary. This contrast between choice and power is why the separation of church and state is necessary not only to provide individuals a choice of religions, but even more importantly to avoid the corruption of the religion that happens to be ascendant.
Andrew Sullivan has been popularizing the term Christianist to describe social conservatives who hope to use government power to achieve Christian ends. This mingling of faith and government can only end up hurting both.
See also, 'Secondary Problems of Socialism'
Well, it would be nice to have known ya, bye bye!!
Moral Absolute ping?
Well, it would be nice to have known ya, bye bye!!
lol Nice Knee jerk. Try reading it.
Mark, for future reading.
Long piece. Will finish reading later.
But, from the initial definitions in the first few paragraphs, it sounds to me like we already have a term for Social Conservatives: RINOs. Or should it be CINOs?
Abortion is another of the 'don't tell us what we can and cannot do, government, just keep us safe' pleas. The blatant dehumanization of the unborn proves such a twisted juvenile approach to civilization accounts for tens of millions of slaughtered citizens.
I consider myself a social conservative and think you are wrong on several fronts:
1. In regard to religion, the separation crowd has no real intention of abiding by the ramifications of such a doctrine. The "limited government" is neveral realized and in fact libertarians like this author seem acutely annoyed at religiosity. consequently, the mere presence of one tax dollar in a public event entitles them to grand enforcement of "freedom from religion" a right found nowhere in the constitution. The First of the first amendment freedoms provides a protection of religious establishments from the federal government. Libertarians and liberals have cooperated to turn this promise on its head and drive the "bulldozer" [scalia] of the wall separating church and state over their religious brethren.
2. Alcohol is a legal drug. It accounts for 40 percent of all traffic accidents and is involved in 40 percent of all violent crimes. The prohibition of alcohol to 18-21 year olds has demonstrably reduced traffic deaths by more than 2,000 a year.
3. As with drugs, libertarians always think that making things illegal makes them more attractive. Drug use is actually declining among youth despite the amusing anecdotes provided.
Nope. Most conservatives are like the GOP in Congress, they talk about freedom but don't practice it. I stopped reading right there.
Thanks for your comments. Overall, I think we have an honest ideological disagreement, which I can respect as long as folks have given these ideas thought and consideration.
I agree with everything you've said about the efficient democracy. I certainly wasn't trying to downplay the greatness of the united states.
However, I think we need a more active and educated constituency. For example, how can they get away with things like this:
"As morally based laws become less relevant or even are withdrawn, our society has become more tolerant of illicit behavior, such as drug use and minors' use of alcohol."
Do you have an example of this? Drug use has been declining for the last few decades, without any change in illegality, as far as I've been aware.
Libertarianism is not anarchy. Anarchocapitalism (sp) etc.. is sort of a serparate, but interesting ideology, where there really is no government. Libertarianism, generally IMO, believes government exists to protect property and liberty and enforce contracts the people make among themselves as individuals.
Thus, there would be little need for gangs and violence etc.. as people cannot count on government to protect their property, illicit drugs. With legalization, much of the 'anarchistic' behavior evaporates into a more orderly society.
That's why the words 'in principle' was used. In practice, there are scaler differences.
I think somebody's not clear on what is and isn't conservative.
What do you mean? Disagreeing with something doesn't mean one doesn't understand it
Interesting, but relies overheavily on generalizations, and truisms from a libertarian perspective.
thanks for your comments. In regard to your first point, I think much of the debate over the public display of religion etc.. is due to the public ownership of the area in question. For example, prayer in school would be a moot issue if schools were private.
On your last two points, With the first, I don't think the figures you say have been demonstrated are true, and don't see how it can even be known. It would be equally easy to raise the limit to say, 25, and save a few thousand more lives right? With the second, I believe it is the case that European countries with freer drug and alchol laws have lower per captia use of those substances.
Travis, I have noticed that not all government programmes fail in their stated aims. Some over-succeed. You give the great example of drugs. Use of hard drugs among the core 15-29 age group has gone up in the UK every year since hard drugs were banned in 1970. On the other hand, the EUs Common Agricultural Policy was designed to combat food shortages and farm poverty. It led to massive surpluses (grain mountains) and to farmers driving Range Rovers and sending their kids to boarding school.
I think Murphys law is at work here. If the government policy has a decent enough motive, like reducing drug abuse, it will generally have the reverse effect to the one intended. If it was just stupid in the first place the CAP applied the mechanisms of the 50s to the problems of the 40s then it will over-succeed rather than fail.
BTW, Lonestar, are you sure about your figures? The only figures I have seen suggesting that drug use has come down are entirely due to demographics. The core 15-29 age group is shrinking. The number of over 80s is going up. But it is no credit to the war on drugs that most 85 year olds arent smack heads. My understanding is that the percentage of 15-29 year olds using controlled substances is still rising in the US, just as it is in the UK. Absolute levels are, of course, vastly higher than when the substances were legal. And US consumption of marijuana is far higher than in Holland, where it is legal now.
Homosexual unions, for instance, is not a conservative ideal. Homosexuality for many reasons has been taboo, much less marriages among same.
Also, living together without being married is something that people do, but the common law, recognizing that bonded couples raising children create a stable society and protect women, make a couple living and making common cause together, married, requiring a divorce to part.
These are at least two liberal practices mentioned in the article.
Drug use is down among youth
I find the whole drug war debate annoying. One of the most popular myths is that prohibition did not work. The incidence of alcoholism and alcohol related disease was much reduced during prohibition. Consumption was also reduced.
Presumably, muslim countries have rampant alcoholism-- but they don't. I am not suggesting that we return to these policies but libertarians keep foisting this idea that by legalizing all things life will get better. Russia's biggest problem is alcoholism. I don't think it is because they prohibit it.
I guess I'll go out on a limb here and say I would not mind if every car in the US had a breathalyzer. I don't think people should be able to operate vehicles under the influence.
Most of the people I know who want to legalize marijuana don't want to do so for fiscal or reduction reasons. They want to legalize it so they can get it easier. Libertarianism is in my experience a dodge for having serious values-- let the market decides because I never will.
I am not as aggressive with government as libertarian stereotypes suggest but things like public smoking bans do actually appeal to me. The religion issue is interesting to me because I don't see people saying, "make religion illegal in public and you will make it more popular."
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