Conservatives should be wary of the idea that when they talk about, say, tax cuts and limited government – about things other than abortion, gay marriage, religion in the public square and similar issues – they are engaging in values-free discourse. And by ratifying the social conservatives’ monopoly of the label “values voters,” the media are furthering the fiction that these voters are somehow more morally awake than others.
social conservatives have values that are shared by many people in this country, but they have to realize two things. first is that they will never get everything they want. legislating moral behavior to the degree that some of them are suggesting is impossible. the second thing they have to keep in mind is that they won’t do any better than they are doing now by voting for the democrats.
there’s nothing wrong with having absolute black and white positions on issues such as gay marriage and abortion. there’s also nothing wrong with saying that a political party would lose support from your group if it does not do what you tell it to do. the flaw in this strategy for groups like this is that they don’t consider the big picture very often. george w. bush may not be their perfect politician, and likewise the republicans may not be 100% hard-core as far as pressing their core issues.
however, there are not many alternatives for groups who see supporting life and opposing gay marriage as their core issues. where would these social conservatives go if they took back their support of the republican party? not to the current group of democrats, that’s for sure. we are talking about the party whose leadership is strongly in support of abortion, of gay marriage, and which also does not have a very comfortable relationship with the Christian community. as well as being out of step with the centrists in his own party, dnc chairman howard dean can’t seem to find much common ground with the rest of the country.
he opposes missouri’s voter id law, which requires voters to have a valid photo ID in order to vote. if he was really concerned about election fraud and people being disenfranchised, you would think that the democratic party would want to support this and other similar laws. this is another one of the many unpopular positions dr. dean has taken while representing the democratic party. even on the war in iraq, the american public doesn’t seem to agree that immediate withdrawal (whatever the current definition of that seems to be) is the right answer to what should be done about iraq.
dean’s attempts to reach out to the 700 club crowd have also fallen flat. that is because he lies about where the democrats are on social issues, and even goes as far as to claim that the democratic platform of 2004 supported the idea of “one man one woman” for marriage. it did not. dear howard, please stop before you hurt yourself. (I guess it’s too late for that warning, isn’t it?) if the centrists don’t like where howard dean is taking their party, then they had better take some serious action now, or they
are headed for another election defeat in ’06.
there is always the option for social conservatives, and for small-government conservatives, to take their ball and go home
that is to stay home on election day, possibly handing the congress over to the democrats. it is a tempting idea, but not because the republican majority hasn’t taken a hard enough line on abortion or the federal marriage amendment. the appeal lies with other areas where republicans haven’t lived up to the expectations we had for them when we elected them. one is spending. as i pointed out previously, these republicans aren’t fond of small government, and have demonstrated that quite well. even those who wish to make the attempt to reduce spending, such as mike pence, are brutally shot down.
the question is then: how do we reform the system? i don’t know if there is a way to significantly impact the process in washington and change the way it currently works. we hold politicians to a higher standard because they represent us, and we should. because i’m a conservative, i believe in personal accountability for everyone, and especially for those in DC representing me. unfortunately, a self-policing system will never provide the level of accountability that is necessary to keep our politicians on the straight and narrow.
that’s why it has become more important to stay engaged and to pay attention to what your representatives and senators are doing, and not just 6 months before an election. even if your congressman or senator is not in your political party, you still have a voice. you still can write letters, make phone calls, and bang on the door (figuratively, of course) until you get an answer.
accountability is not just about elections. it is also about citizens taking an active role and letting their representatives know where they stand on the issues currently being debated. look at what happened with the dubai ports deal. everybody got motivated to call DC and say “hey what the heck are you guys doing up there?” we need to do more of that. i think we are starting to pay more attention to issues, now that illegal immigration is front-and-center. that’s a good thing. i would like to believe that our voices are having some impact in this debate. we shall see what happens with this current immigration legislation in the house and in the senate.
the last word belongs to john hawkins:
Heres my advice: set your emotions aside and think long and hard about what a Democratically controlled Congress would really mean. Is the satisfaction of, teaching the Republicans a lesson, worth the price? Think back to the Clinton years: conservatives certainly stuck it to Old Read My Lips, but the price turned out to be eight years of, It depends on what the meaning of the word is is. In my book, that wasnt such a great trade-off and keep in mind, when youre talking about congressmen and senators, it could be worse. Incumbent politicians are tougher to get rid of than a cockroach infestation and 40 years from now, do you really want to be sitting around, remembering how you stayed home and helped the next Robert Byrd get into office? Folks, be mad at the GOP if you dont think theyre doing a good job. Call your senator, call your congressman and give em hell if they deserve it. But, when November rolls around, make sure to vote because theres more on the line than you might think.
Tags: george will, social conservatives, values, howard dean