Recently, we have seen a number of odd and highly unnecessary comments about the need for truces on social issues. Notably, Mitch Daniels, the Governor of Indiana and possible 2012 Presidential candidate, told the Weekly Standard that we “would have to call a truce on social issues. We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a while.” And now you have one of the young squirts, or squirt guns, or whatever they have anointed themselves, Rep. Paul Ryan, saying on CNBC, “we will agree to disagree on [social] issues.”
Really? I guess Mr. Ryan’s idea of a “roadmap” is just to get on “the highway to power,” and ignore any of the bumpier roads – never mind if it takes you somewhere you don’t want to go.
What happened to leadership based on principle? Any casual political observer understands that not everyone shares the same views on every topic. Building coalitions is hard. But this idea that we’re either for something or against it depending on which votes we’re trying to buy off at any given moment is completely absurd. In the current instance, it is the so-called “independent” vote – and takes form in the need for a “truce” on social issues. Tomorrow, it will be something else. This is total nonsense.
Republicans for too long have felt the need to classify themselves – “fiscal con,” “social con,” “neo con” or any of the other “type” of conservative or Republican that supposedly defines us. Issue-oriented groups, then, sit in their respective corner and swing away, leaving Republicans wooing from corner to corner only to get the crap beat out of them in the process. Defining ourselves in this way is wholly unnecessary, forsaking what it actually means to be conservative – and in the process, leaving us flapping around in the winds of political change.
Conservatism in America, at its core, must be defined by a belief in a limited federal government where powers are either specifically delegated to Washington (primarily defense and foreign affairs) or left to the states and to the people (as emphasized in the Tenth Amendment). It should be defined, then, by following the Constitution as it was written by the founders and understood by the ratifiers.
If we remain consistent in this belief – we minimize internal conflicts and we remind the American people that by devolving MOST issues to the personal, local and state level, we will reduce spending, have a strong national defense and will maximize liberty and our right to live according to the dictates of our conscience.
There is no question that the predominant driving force in the conservative ascendancy today is to reduce Washington spending, and that is a great thing. But they are also fed up with the expansion of government at the expense of freedom. It is not just about dollars and cents. It is about liberty and issues of Washington intervention.
Many of the same people fired up about spending would be fine with gay marriage, but many are offended by it. Many of these folks are adamantly pro-life, many are not. Many are against legalization of drugs, many are for it to varying degrees.
The thread that binds these folks together is the thread of limited, Constitutional government. It is a belief that WE get to decide these issues here at home, in the states – not far away bureaucrats in Washington, and definitely not unelected judges who make up policy according to a whim and not the will of the people.
It makes a mockery of the Constitution and limited government to call for truces on issues that are defined by an abandonment of the very principles we supposedly espouse. When the people are not allowed to decide the most fundamental aspects of how we choose to live – from when life begins to what prayer may be recited at the local school, from the definition of marriage to what drugs may or may not be legal, then it undermines both the Constitution and the people’s belief in it.
Reasonable people can disagree on social issues – as with other issues. But if you are, for example, pro-life, then you believe that some 50 million unborn babies never got a shot at the American dream because a handful of unelected judges decided their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was trumped by a fictitious right to privacy that the people never established.
There is no “truce” when it comes to believing in freedom and limited government.