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"Do Social Conservatives Care about Capitalism?"

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http://townhall.com/columnists/austinhill/2012/01/15/do_social_conservatives_care_about_capitalism

Do Social Conservatives Care About Capitalism

By Austin Hill

1/15/2012

 

 

The Republican primary races are underway, and pundits are abuzz about whether or not religious social conservatives will embrace Mitt Romney.

 

That’s an interesting and worthwhile question. But here’s another interesting question: do religious social conservatives care about the free market economy, and capitalism?

 

I’ve pondered this question over the years, in previous columns and in various talk radio venues. When I do, I usually get very angry, visceral answers – responses like “of course we do,” and “how do you dare even ask?”

 

Despite the anger and discomfort, this is an important question to be asking. Religious social conservatives are large in number and can influence the outcomes of elections. And as our nation is currently at an economic crossroads, it remains to be seen what our country and our country’s economic system will be like in the future.

 

But before we think about capitalism, ponder this for a moment: who are “religious social conservatives,” anyway? According to research from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 70 Percent of American adults identify with some form of evangelical Protestant Christianity, mainline denominational Protestant Christianity, Catholicism, Orthodox Judaism, or Mormonism.

 

Obviously, adherents to these various faith traditions do not all think alike on issues of culture and public policy. However many members of these religious groups share common, strongly-held beliefs and values, so it is not surprising that over the past several decades they have often exhibited similar responses to public policy concerns amid America’s changing cultural landscape.

 

This is to say that not every individual who practices one of these religious traditions necessarily qualifies as a religious social conservative. However, the religious social conservative movement is comprised of members all of these various faith communities, while the movement is most certainly dominated by Evangelical Protestant Christians.

 

The earliest beginnings of this movement can be traced back to the social upheaval of the late '60’s and early '70’s youth culture, and the 1973 Roe versus Wade Supreme Court decision. After decades of non-participation in elections and public policy debates, many devoutly religious Americans became alarmed by a “hippie” generation that was determined to overthrow our culture’s authority structures, and by their government arbitrarily determining that unborn children were not really human beings.

 

Thus, “social conservatism” emerged as a movement that was focused on the most basic of all social structures – the traditional family. Over the past several decades, concerns about the life of the unborn child, the rights of parents, and the definition of marriage have all taken center-stage among social conservatives, while each of these concerns have been openly regarded as “moral issues” that are worthy of religious peoples’ attention.

 

While the long-standing concerns of social conservatives remain in-play today, the United States now finds itself at another turning point. Will our country continue as the “most free” among the world’s free market economies? Or will the U.S. devolve in to more of a European-styled, socialistic economy, where private individuals and businesses make fewer decisions with their own economic resources, and politicians and government bureaucrats make more of those decisions?

 

Given our nation’s economic crossroads, and given that social conservatives are so influential among the American electorate, the religious social conservative movement needs to look within itself and answer this question: should economics be regarded as one of the “moral issues” that is worthy of our attention? And if it is, then which economic system do social conservatives prefer – our free market capitalistic system, or a more socialistic, government-controlled system?

 

Economic systems and policies are, after all, an expression of how a society regards both its weakest and most powerful members and everybody else in between. Likewise, economic policies often play a key role in determining who “wins” and who “loses” in a society, and they can either encourage or discourage positive, productive behavior.

 

Social conservatives can begin addressing economic issues by first confronting a very common assumption that is widely held as true – the assumption that capitalism is an economic system built on greed and selfishness, while socialism is a system based on generosity and “fairness.”

 

Despite its prevalence, this is a false assumption. When properly understood and implemented, capitalism is an economic system that allows every willing participant the opportunity to gain entry into the marketplace; demands that every participant abide by a uniform set of rules; rewards people according to a system of merit; and allows private individuals and organizations the freedom both to succeed, and to fail. Special governmental favors – bailouts and so forth – are an anathema to a capitalistic economic system.

 

Socialism, however, places in the hands of politicians and governmental bureaucrats the power to take away increasing amounts of wealth from certain individuals (generally the more wealthy in a society), and re-distribute that wealth to people that are believed to be “deserving” of it. In such an economic system, personal responsibility, a system of merit, and one’s freedom to succeed and to fail, are all undermined.

 

Economics is absolutely a “moral issue,” and our nation’s economic dilemmas are numerous and profound. Will the influential social conservative movement have a voice in setting the course for our nation’s economic future?

 

I've had discussions with any number of "Liberals" who agreed with me on just about every economic point but refused to ever vote for a Republican because they were afraid of it impacting supreme court justice appointments 50 years in the future and somehow weakening Casey vs. Planned Parenthood.

 

I've had discussions with any number of "Conservatives" who bitch about wealth inequality and conspicuous consumption... but who refused to ever vote for a liberal because of their own social concerns and their horror that the US government is funding "murder on an immense scale" through abortions, whatever they fear from gay marriage, etcetcetc.

 

Michelle Bachmann, for her part, found her way to a microphone within the TEA Party movement because of her insistence that economic concerns were the important fodder for discussion, but sadly decided to play at being a social conservative once she got her job in congress.

 

So- here's my question, mainly for our so-called "Social Conservatives", but also for "social liberals"- Would your economic views be different than they are today were it not for your 'social' views, and if not does it exist in a vacuum from your social views or do they impact one another (i.e. do you few capitalism as a "moral" issue, as the author does).

 

"Social Libertarians" need not apply, "Yo dawg, wouldn't it be, like, awesome, if the government, like, took money from the rich and used it to buy us drugs" is not a useful political stance for discussion.

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Social Conservatives are the part of the Republican 'Big Tent' who are always capable of dragging defeat out of the jaws of victory. I don't give a rats ass about this Santorum'ish crap. I only care about the economy, taxes, the budget deficit, and energy, etc.

 

We've seen Republican political capital squandered on flag burning amendments, and other SC nonsense before. Enough already, for pitys sake. :mad:

 

Time enough for the SC minutiae when we get our fiscal house in order. I'm not about to worry about furniture arrangements when the house needs a roof. :squid:

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Social Conservatives are the part of the Republican 'Big Tent' who are always capable of dragging defeat out of the jaws of victory. I don't give a rats ass about this Santorum'ish crap. I only care about the economy, taxes, the budget deficit, and energy, etc.

We've seen Republican political capital squandered on flag burning amendments, and other SC nonsense before. Enough already, for pitys sake. :mad:

Time enough for the SC minutiae when we get our fiscal house in order. I'm not about to worry about furniture arrangements when the house needs a roof. :squid:

 

 

+1

 

Or like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic!

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"Do Social Conservatives Care about Capitalism?"

 

 

Excerpts from Pat Buchanan's Food Stamp Nation:

 

"The lessons of history ... show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit."

 

"These searing words about Depression-era welfare are from Franklin Roosevelt's 1935 State of the Union Address. FDR feared this self-reliant people might come to depend permanently upon government for the necessities of their daily lives. Like narcotics, such a dependency would destroy the fiber and spirit of the nation.

 

What we have accepted today is a vast permanent underclass of scores of millions who cannot cope and must be carried by the rest of society -- fed, clothed, housed, tutored, medicated at taxpayer's expense for their entire lives. We have a new division in America: those who pay a double fare, and those who forever ride free.

 

We Americans are not only not the people our parents were, we are not the people we were. FDR was right about what would happen to the country if we did not get off the narcotic of welfare.

 

America has regrettably already undergone that "spiritual and moral disintegration, fundamentally destructive to the national fiber."

 

 

 

I am not sure I fit into Hill's definition of a "social conservative."

 

I am sure that as a reactionary - an extreme conservative - I "care about capitalism," and its continued advancement because it is demonstrably superior to the welfare-state mindset that is provably inimical to human fulfillment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I consider myself both a social and a fiscal conservative.

 

I think the problem with the original question is that it assumes a total separation between the current state of morals in the U.S. and the nation's fiscal policies. I believe that a loss of morals in our society and the rise of the welfare state go hand in hand. They reinforce each other. Decadence IMO, demands more government spending, more people wishing to be taken care of by government and more oligarchs happy to comply to enrich themselves.

 

Personal responsibility and smaller government also go hand in hand. Strong people = strong, vital nation. Weak people = weak nation in debt. I hope you all understand what I am trying to say.

 

Also, to those who don't like the social conservatives like me in the Rep. Party, get over it, we're here to stay. You figure out how to accommodate us and we'll figure out how to accommodate your intolerance. There are three pillars to conservatism in the U.S., fiscal, values and defense. The are mutually strengthing. No one alone can thrive without the other.

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I believe that a loss of morals in our society and the rise of the welfare state go hand in hand. They reinforce each other. Decadence IMO, demands more government spending, more people wishing to be taken care of by government and more oligarchs happy to comply to enrich themselves.

 

Personal responsibility and smaller government also go hand in hand.

 

Strong people = strong, vital nation. Weak people = weak nation in debt. I hope you all understand what I am trying to say.

 

Long ago, Franklin understood what you - and I - understand now:

 

 

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. Benjamin Franklin

 

 

 

Redistribution of wealth is redistribution of responsibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Long ago, Franklin understood what you - and I - understand now:

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. Benjamin Franklin

Redistribution of wealth is redistribution of responsibility.

 

Kudos, that really says it all. :)

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Kudos, that really says it all. :)

 

That's nuthin'.

 

Just wait till you read the end of Justice Scalia's dissent in Lawrence. (Post # 332 on The Constitution Thread.)

 

I'll have it posted by Wednesday.

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Quote:

Originally Posted by lichum View Post

 

Long ago, Franklin understood what you - and I - understand now:

 

 As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.

 

 

 

which is odd,

 

since it's the social conservatives BEGGING for masters.

 

 

 

one side is FOR personal freedom,

 

the social conservatives on the other side are the ones saying that personal freedom is dangerous and we need to legislate behavior.

 

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the social conservatives on the other side are the ones saying that personal freedom is dangerous and we need to legislate behavior.

 

Do social conservatives want to" legislate behavior" or limit license?

 

I don't know; however, I must admit license is behavior.

 

I do know Doaf's signature line evidences her wisdom: "One of the greatest delusions of the world is the hope that the evils of this world are to be cured by legislation." Thomas B. Reed 1886

 

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Do social conservatives want to" legislate behavior" or limit license?

I don't know; however, I must admit license is behavior.

I do know Doaf's signature line evidences her wisdom: "One of the greatest delusions of the world is the hope that the evils of this world are to be cured by legislation." Thomas B. Reed 1886

 

I love individual freedom and personal responsibility. But I also believe in stop signs and red lights and think we should have police to help guard against evil doers. As usual, the argument is HOW MUCH GOVERNMENT IS TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE. As Franklin said, the more virtuous the people, the less government is needed. And I believe the converse is also true: that as government grows and becomes more intrusive the more people are trapped into government dependency.

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Knight,

reconcile that last statement with your desires to legislate morality?

 

don't you think LAWS forcing morality make people less moral and simply fearful of prosecution as a lawbreaker?

 

Yes some do. Would you do away with the laws against child abuse? That is a law which legislates morality, is it not? How about the laws against rape? Isn't that a law which legislates morality? Almost all laws, speeding, drunk driving, dope, assault and battery, theft, etc. legislate morality and we need these laws to preserve moral order. All of the above either threatens a victim's life or well being or security and we recognize that some people will act in an evil manner for whatever reason and so the innocent must be protected. Do you agree?

 

 

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