Green Room

Social conservatism and small government: are they incompatible?

posted at 1:17 pm on February 2, 2012 by

With Rick Santorum evidently getting his moment in the spotlight of enthusiasm, a lot of discussion has been had regarding his views and how they pertain to the concept of small/limited government. Hopping around YouTube looking for old clips of CNN’s Crossfire(yes, I actually do this with my free time), I stumbled upon an episode from 1987 that discussed the old classic of “dangerous satanic rock music and how it’s destroying our youth/families/society”. For anyone familiar with what a canard it turned out to be, or with the offspring of such movements(pushed not merely by conservatives, but by liberals such as Al Gore and Hillary Clinton), the hindsight makes the following video a fascinating watch:

My primary lamentation of the piece is not the ridiculous, ostentatious questions posed by Lofton, nor even his actual fallback to the most childish name-calling on national television(I won’t even address the Godwin invocation), but that such behavior would come from someone working for the Washington Times.

What truly caught my attention and made me see the connection to the current discussion of Santorum’s worldview is that Zappa makes it a point to label himself as a conservative. Now clearly, Lofton also considers himself a conservative, but their disagreement illuminates exactly the distinction made by Santorum in a post I made recently. There seems to be a cavernous fissure between the kind of conservative who believes government should be prevented from engaging in social engineering, and the kind of conservative who believes government has a responsibility to protect children/families/society from what the consider “harmful influences”. Twenty-five years ago it was rock music, later it’s video games, later it’s McDonald’s, later it’s soft drinks, and on and on. Many libertarian-leaning conservatives noted the same kind of misgivings with Huckabee last time around, who had advocated increased taxes on tobacco products while governor of Arkansas, and who seemed to advocate government monitoring of citizens’ eating habits.

Again, I cite an interview recently featured on Fox Business’ show Freedom Watch, where Santorum made the following comment:

They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues.

That is not how traditional conservatives view the world.

Some questions need to be asked in this discussion. The first is whether the “traditional conservatism” that Santorum refers to aligns with the popular beliefs of those who consider themselves “social conservatives”. Some have pointed out that even the label “Christian Conservative” has a faction all its own. Again, is there any daylight between these labels?

If that alignment does not exist in a satisfactory fashion, how then is modern social conservatism to be defined? Some will probably finish this article with a single, valid thought: “Who cares? This election will be about the economy.” Fair enough, but a consensus on the size and scope of government is critical to the discussion of the economy, with the way the government has been bloated over the last decade, both by Republicans and Democrats. Is it not then crucial that a real debate be had on whether one of the principles of social conservatism should be limited government?

Clearly, the type of establishment Republican we get in champions like Mitt and Newt are seen as representative of big-government policy, and therefore not conservative. It seems to me that if we’re to make this distinction, we need a clear acknowledgment of how the size of government factors into social conservative ideology. Indeed, what common ground is held between social conservatism and the TEA Party movement, the latter of which many people, including myself, have found underrepresented in the late stages of this primary?

Also: By no means do I intend to imply that everyone who identifies themselves as social conservatives or Christian Conservatives are in favor of big government, or that they line up with people like Rick Santorum. I was making an observation from my own experience that, more often than not, those who identify themselves as social conservatives tend to see a benefit in government acting on their behalf if they believe the act is morally justified.

Recently in the Green Room:

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Comment pages: 1 2 3

gryphon202 on February 2, 2012 at 6:20 PM

I only wish that your exposition would be on the main blog, instead of relegated to the Green Room. Nicely put.

hillbillyjim on February 2, 2012 at 6:25 PM

“Judeo/Christian in origin.”

Meh.

Many, sure.

But more so, Greco-Roman — the political structure and ethics of the clasical world — and also Enlightenment values, which were hardly Judeo-Christian. They were Deist and intellectual values respecting human rights, not demanding human subservience to a God.

Several of the founders were in fact Deists.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 6:25 PM

I don’t see where this undue influence of atheists over social cons comes from. Well, except for the fact they often have better arguments since they’re reality based, in that one respect (cosmology), if no other.

There you go. Putting down one group and calling them stupid because you don’t share the same beliefs.

This thread is starting to turn sour…

Hendo on February 2, 2012 at 6:27 PM

There you go. Putting down one group and calling them stupid because you don’t share the same beliefs.

This thread is starting to turn sour…

Hendo on February 2, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Just ignore him, Hendo. Give him everything he deserves: Nothing.

gryphon202 on February 2, 2012 at 6:28 PM

I didn’t call them stupid. I said not reality-based. One group mainly derives their beliefs on cosmology from an ancient book, with two conflicting accounts in the first two chapters. The other uses scientific evidence as determined by theory, prediction, and experimental data.

If it insults you that I don’t consider the Bible’s story of cosmology reality-based, that’s your business.

Remember what we’re discussing here: People’s freedom to say what they want, even if other people don’t like it.

Big girl panties, etc.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Random on February 2, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Sheldon Cooper, I presume?

gryphon202 on February 2, 2012 at 6:30 PM

Big girl panties, etc.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Ya see?

Now there’s a winning argument if ever there were one. That’s how you do it.

Like this:

Nanner nanner nanner!

I win; you lose. Don’t let me stop ya sangin’ tha blooose.

hillbillyjim on February 2, 2012 at 6:35 PM

“Well, except for the fact they often have better arguments ….”

Wow. Expressing my opinion about that seriously offended you, to the point where you considered it socially rude? On a blog devoted to political discussion on debate on a thread where Frank Zappa is, to our approval mostly, championing freedom of speech and using the C-word (which many, many people dislike hearing)?

“since they’re reality based, in that one respect (cosmology)”

My calmly stated view on this, which you’re not required to share, got your goat?

Really?

Random on February 2, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Frank Zappa in the video you just watched referenced the Bible as an example of incest in art/history, and lambasted Reagan as leading to an unfree theocracy, and what I said affected your feelings?

I’m actually glad, but only in context, because this is a perfect example of where another person’s feelings shouldn’t determine what someone else can say.

It was hardly an overt act on my part aimed at your personal self-esteem.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 6:39 PM

And you are correct, gryphon. This is a surprisingly tame and welcome level of discourse for two pages of comments so far. I am impressed, and thank all of the participants. It’s a refreshing change from the presidential politics discussions that seem to all devolve into some pretty disgusting name-calling and insults.

gravityman on February 2, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Never in my time here would I have imagined that a discussion of the pros/cons of social conservatism would be a palate cleanser. But here we go. Props to you too, Maddy. :)

gryphon202 on February 2, 2012 at 6:24 PM

I’m especially pleased with how the conversation has worked out. Discussing the nuances of Santorum’s statement over the last couple of weeks, I expected more hostility. I think the fact that there hasn’t been much is as much a credit to the Green Room commentership as to the chump who wrote the damned thing.

MadisonConservative on February 2, 2012 at 6:41 PM

Nah, you’re not always a chump.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 6:43 PM

What we need here are more Random acts of self-aggrandizement.

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

You are right, Random; myself and everyone else are idiots.

Feel better now?

The need to talk downward to your betters speaks volumes.

Did you torture your puppies when you were a toddler?

hillbillyjim on February 2, 2012 at 6:44 PM

“Discussing the nuances of Santorum’s statement over the last couple of weeks, I expected more hostility.”

I actually have always liked Santorum’s personality (not everyone does, by any means) while finding his governmental-power-assisted imposition of his social opinions upon consenting adults deplorable.

But damn. I hope no one gets offended I called his position deplorable.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 6:47 PM

hillbillyjim, chill out, man.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 6:47 PM

But damn. I hope no one gets offended I called his position deplorable.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Not today, it’s not.

But tomorrow, you never know. Randomly speaking, doncha know.

:>)

hillbillyjim on February 2, 2012 at 6:49 PM

:P Indeed.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 6:52 PM

I see you’re just going to keep on riding this stupid hobbyhorse.

tom on February 2, 2012 at 4:27 PM

I apologize.

MadisonConservative on February 2, 2012 at 4:50 PM

I didn’t expect you to.

So it’s not like I’m not disappointed.

I just get very tired of those people who keep trying to gin up some conflict between conservatives and social conservatives. Social conservatives overwhelmingly want the government to butt out of trying to define our society’ morals, and yet they keep trying to do the opposite.

Social conservatives don’t want the government telling parents how to raise their children. It’s the progressives that want government to micromanage how parents teach their children, discipline their children, and now even feed their children.

It’s now the government trying to push people into accepting homosexuality as normal. How is that the role of government?

Progressives have gotten behind every socially destructive issue in the past two generations, from devaluing marriage to devaluing the family to promoting promiscuity.

But even though social conservatives are at the opposite end of the spectrum from the progressives as far as moral values go, they lack the notion that such things should be done by the government.

The fact is there are a lot of things harmful to society, that social conservatives don’t like, but don’t try to fix with government action. An example is the sky-high illegitimate birth rate. Last I remember, that was over 60% in the black community, and about 25% among whites. I can only presume it’s gotten worse since then. If social conservatives were after a theocracy, there would be some sort of an effort to penalize that behavior. Is a push to criminalize births out of wedlock considered a social conservative issue now? I think you know that no one has even asked for it. That’s not because it’s not socially destructive, but because social conservatives, contrary to the entire spin of this article, are not out to dictate moral values through the government.

If you want to complain about people taking away your freedom over moralistic attempts to control your behavior, point the finger at the progressives where it belongs.

Is all this really intended to try to sway people to accept the ridiculous assertion that Santorum is a statist theocrat?

tom on February 2, 2012 at 7:05 PM

Is all this really intended to try to sway people to accept the ridiculous assertion that Santorum is a statist theocrat?

tom on February 2, 2012 at 7:05 PM

I don’t think Rick Santorum is a statist theocrat. Neither do I trust him to follow the constitution. Those two opinions on my part are not mutually exclusive by any stretch.

gryphon202 on February 2, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Is all this really intended to try to sway people to accept the ridiculous assertion that Santorum is a statist theocrat?

tom on February 2, 2012 at 7:05 PM

Neither am I shallow enough to use this as some sort of proof of my assertion, nor am I vindictive enough merely to be trying to “gin up some conflict between conservatives and social conservatives”. If you don’t recognize that such conflict exists, then you haven’t been paying attention to months of Santorum threads on this website. Opinion about him is very divisive, based on his statist, religion-first flavor of social conservatism. My reporting of a quote of his that illustrates that caused even more conflict. I’m exploring what causes that conflict.

MadisonConservative on February 2, 2012 at 7:17 PM

DRayRaven: My reading of the Declaration of Independence is that the enumerated rights belong to all ‘Human Beings’; that is, creatures belonging to the species homo sapiens. It specifically does not say ‘Human Persons’.

Scott H on February 2, 2012 at 5:45 PM

The Declaration of Independence is not law. The most you can claim is that it has purpose as an aide to interepret the intents of the founders…but even that is problematic, since the Constituion (which is law) came many years later.

Even so, I don’t think you can make an argument that Jefferson had anything like abortion in mind when he wrote that line in the Declaration…not with a straight face, anyway.

Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins’ is an ethical statement.

‘The only legitimate (dare I say ethical?) purpose of a government established by the consent of the governed is to enforce the security of my personal safety and my property’ is also an ethical statement.’

Not really. If I pull a gun on someone braking into my house, is that an ethical act or an act of self protection?

The government is simply another gun that’s there to protect people, nothing more nothing less. It’s not there to promote ethical principles like “fairness,” “sexual morality,” or anything else.

What do you mean by ‘legitimate’? What is allowed by the governed? Then the governed can change what is legitimate, and then the Liberals are correct.

It is one of the basic princliples of American politial philosophy that government only gains legitimacy through the consent of the governed. In other words, it only has legitimacy because we the people give it consent to do certain things…namely, those enumerated powers in teh Constitution.

Yes, we can change it…through the amendment process. By the same token, any actions taken by our elected representatives outside of that consent are unconstitutional, and thus illegitmate.

One of the great tragedies of American history and politics is that we have allowed the government to decide for itself what is constitutional and unconstitutional…what powers are legitimate and illegitimate.

Is it any wonder our government is out of control and growing larger day after day, year after year, decade after decade? In fact, I would argue our present government is more oppressive and tyrannical than the British government of George III we overthrew!

And nowhere here have I stated any religious code. Ethics are not bound by religion, as you note. However, you cannot make any statement about ‘legitimacy’ or ‘ought’ or ‘should’ without it becoming a statement of ethics.

I just did. It’s built into the political philosophy that gave birth to our nation. It’s the very foundation of our government.

DRayRaven on February 2, 2012 at 7:18 PM

Is all this really intended to try to sway people to accept the ridiculous assertion that Santorum is a statist theocrat?

tom on February 2, 2012 at 7:05 PM

I don’t think Rick Santorum is a statist theocrat. Neither do I trust him to follow the constitution. Those two opinions on my part are not mutually exclusive by any stretch.

gryphon202 on February 2, 2012 at 7:08 PM

It’s an oft-stated position of MadCon. I see absolutely no evidence for the claim that Santorum wouldn’t follow the Constitution. On the contrary, his argument was quite moderate and sensible.

It’s amazing to me that many would reject a solidly conservative man like Santorum out of some overblown fear that he’s just waiting to create a theocracy. We may be about to see an election where our only choices are RomneyCare and ObamaCare, and people are worrying that Santorum – the only guy who has never pushed any form of nationalized healthcare — is too fond of big government? Really? Really?

Of the 3 guys remaining, Santorum is the least likely to grow government.

tom on February 2, 2012 at 7:22 PM

Of the 3 guys remaining, Santorum is the least likely to grow government.

tom on February 2, 2012 at 7:22 PM

I agree with you as far as that goes. But that says nothing about his intentions to follow or not follow the constitution. “Shrinking government” or “growing government” implies that we’re okay with government doing more or less of what it’s doing now. I’m talking about something much more radical. I’m talking about a desire on my part to change the very terms of the debate.

Honestly, at this point I think if it came down to Newt, Mitt, or Santorum, Santorum would get my vote. But it would not be without some mighty serious reservations.

gryphon202 on February 2, 2012 at 7:26 PM

But more so, Greco-Roman — the political structure and ethics of the clasical world — and also Enlightenment values, which were hardly Judeo-Christian. They were Deist and intellectual values respecting human rights, not demanding human subservience to a God.

Several of the founders were in fact Deists.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 6:25 PM

I know they were Deists, but their Watchmaker God was still the Christian God.

We could get into a deep discussion about the role of the church in Western society and government, and there are some interesting things to say about the impact of the Protestant Reformation and its impact on capitalism and the Enlightenment (and I’d probably enjoy that), but suffice it to say I meant only that the founders operated within a Judeo-Christian cultural background and framework.

DRayRaven on February 2, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Is all this really intended to try to sway people to accept the ridiculous assertion that Santorum is a statist theocrat?

tom on February 2, 2012 at 7:05 PM

Neither am I shallow enough to use this as some sort of proof of my assertion, nor am I vindictive enough merely to be trying to “gin up some conflict between conservatives and social conservatives”.

Glad to hear it. I consider calling Santorum a statist theocrat to be an assertion without any merit at all.

If you don’t recognize that such conflict exists, then you haven’t been paying attention to months of Santorum threads on this website. Opinion about him is very divisive, based on his statist, religion-first flavor of social conservatism. My reporting of a quote of his that illustrates that caused even more conflict. I’m exploring what causes that conflict.

MadisonConservative on February 2, 2012 at 7:17 PM

There we go with the statist stuff. I’ll say it again, there is more evidence for both Romney and Gingrich being statist than Santorum. But even though I consider Romney to be a progressive-lite RINO of the worst sort, I wouldn’t try to call him a statist. It makes no sense. Therefore, it makes even less sense to call Santorum a statist.

tom on February 2, 2012 at 7:29 PM

There we go with the statist stuff. I’ll say it again, there is more evidence for both Romney and Gingrich being statist than Santorum. But even though I consider Romney to be a progressive-lite RINO of the worst sort, I wouldn’t try to call him a statist. It makes no sense. Therefore, it makes even less sense to call Santorum a statist.

tom on February 2, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Psst! Tommy! Just cause it doesn’t make sense to you doesn’t mean it’s not true. Maybe, just maybe, you just don’t get it!

/WinkWinkNudgeNudge

gryphon202 on February 2, 2012 at 7:31 PM

Of the 3 guys remaining, Santorum is the least likely to grow government.

tom on February 2, 2012 at 7:22 PM

I agree with you as far as that goes. But that says nothing about his intentions to follow or not follow the constitution. “Shrinking government” or “growing government” implies that we’re okay with government doing more or less of what it’s doing now. I’m talking about something much more radical. I’m talking about a desire on my part to change the very terms of the debate.

Honestly, at this point I think if it came down to Newt, Mitt, or Santorum, Santorum would get my vote. But it would not be without some mighty serious reservations.

gryphon202 on February 2, 2012 at 7:26 PM

I have to wonder how exactly you think Santorum would fail to follow the Constitution. He seems pretty conscientious about the government not legislating beyond its limits.

tom on February 2, 2012 at 7:32 PM

I have to wonder how exactly you think Santorum would fail to follow the Constitution. He seems pretty conscientious about the government not legislating beyond its limits.

tom on February 2, 2012 at 7:32 PM

Let me give you a little clue: There is not a single politician at the federal level alive today who knows enough about the constitution to follow it in the way that its framers intended. Hence, my desire to change the terms of the debate. I don’t want “smaller government” if it means less of the same old shit. I want to change the fundamental way in which our government operates.

Beyond that, I’m surprised at how many of my fellow commenters here seem willing, nay eager, to trust campaign rhetoric. Trust is not a default position with me in my dealings with politicians, especially as I see how many voters seem to look forward to being duped every election cycle.

gryphon202 on February 2, 2012 at 7:37 PM

I consider calling Santorum a statist theocrat to be an assertion without any merit at all.

That’s fine, but I’ve given reasons and arguments many times over the last few weeks why I call him that. You may not give the claim merit, but that doesn’t make it meritless.

There we go with the statist stuff. I’ll say it again, there is more evidence for both Romney and Gingrich being statist than Santorum. But even though I consider Romney to be a progressive-lite RINO of the worst sort, I wouldn’t try to call him a statist. It makes no sense. Therefore, it makes even less sense to call Santorum a statist.

tom on February 2, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Again, we disagree, including on Romney. However, I’m not going to get in a debate about Santorum anymore. I’ve stated and re-stated my positions and arguments on the matter. Now, if you want to take umbrage with this post because it’s related to that topic, argue what I state in the post. I’m not deluging this topic with last topic’s debate.

MadisonConservative on February 2, 2012 at 7:42 PM

“I know they were Deists, but their Watchmaker God was still the Christian God.”

No. It wasn’t. If it was, they’d have been Christians.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 7:51 PM

“suffice it to say I meant only that the founders operated within a Judeo-Christian cultural background and framework”

To a degree, as I said.

They also operated to a large degree in a pre-Christian classical world, Greco-Roman framework, as they were educated men. Above all, they were men of the Enlightenment where individual human rights was gaining credence over obeying any power, including a king or jealous God. The Enlightenment is what stripped Christianity of its direct political teeth, which is why the U.S. has what Thomas Jefferson called the wall between church and state, no religious test of office, etc.

You are reading history so it supports your side and you’re cherrypicking and minimizing inconvenient data points big time.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 7:55 PM

I was making an observation from my own experience that, more often than not, those who identify themselves as social conservatives tend to see a benefit in government acting on their behalf if they believe the act is morally justified.

Just about everyone in the United States wants the government to act on their group’s behalf (or in accordance to their beliefs/ values) or to cease acting in a certain area; this tendency is not unique to social conservatives or to Christians.

It seems to me that every other group is permitted or condoned by everyone for wanting to influence politics or government in some fashion except for social conservatives/ Christians.

Madison Conservative wrote,

and the kind of conservative who believes government has a responsibility to protect children/families/society from what the consider “harmful influences”. [McDonald's, etc, was mentioned]

Conservatives such as me (I’m a social conservative and a Christian) generally do not want government dictating stuff like what people should be allowed to eat. That is more a trait of left wingers.

I don’t even think it’s so much that social conservatives/ Christians want government to always promote/instill our values everywhere all the time, or cram them down other people’s throats, as much as it is we see individuals/ society/ culture/ government (usually by liberals) trying to erode our rights, or their ability to express their values and live by them (without suffering retaliation or discrimination); we want them protected.

TigerPaw on February 2, 2012 at 8:22 PM

Random on February 2, 2012 at 6:29 PM

You do sound as though you were attempting to sound civil in your post, so I credit you there, but lines such as these…

I didn’t call them stupid. I said not reality-based. One group mainly derives their beliefs on cosmology from an ancient book, with two conflicting accounts in the first two chapters. The other uses scientific evidence as determined by theory, prediction, and experimental data.

…never the less contain several faulty assumptions, imply a few derogatory views (e.g. Christians are delusional, their faith is not backed up by any facts, Christians are not rational, etc.), even though the remarks are stated in such a polite manner; they still come across as sounding a tad condescending to a Christian. Maybe you did not mean it to sound that way.

TigerPaw on February 2, 2012 at 8:30 PM

“social” conservatism is just the same as Liberal ideology it is the focusing of government power to achieve ends that are perceived to be ‘good” by their delusional followers. All ideology has one goal government control and thus all ideologies need to be destroyer.

Your Mamma loves me on February 2, 2012 at 8:46 PM

Again, we disagree, including on Romney. However, I’m not going to get in a debate about Santorum anymore. I’ve stated and re-stated my positions and arguments on the matter. Now, if you want to take umbrage with this post because it’s related to that topic, argue what I state in the post. I’m not deluging this topic with last topic’s debate.

MadisonConservative on February 2, 2012 at 7:42 PM

So we disagree. No problem. I’m used to you being wrong. :-;

tom on February 2, 2012 at 9:08 PM

“e.g. Christians are delusional”

Since brought it up, yes. Massively delusional.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 9:25 PM

Your premise is correct, MadCon.

If social conservatism seeks to use the power of the federal government to legislate morality and dictate behavior (and it usually does), then they are no different from nanny-statists.

Rick Santorum seeks to control behavior and possibly waste our time and money in doing so at a time when the debt needs to be reined in. The man’s completely off the rails.

mintycrys on February 2, 2012 at 11:12 PM

No. It wasn’t. If it was, they’d have been Christians.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 7:51 PM

They were. Deism isn’t a religion unto itself. It’s a theory about how God interacts with the world.

Put it this way: they would have described themselves as Christians, not Deists. Casual Christians perhaps, but Christians nonetheless.

DRayRaven on February 3, 2012 at 5:55 AM

They also operated to a large degree in a pre-Christian classical world, Greco-Roman framework, as they were educated men. Above all, they were men of the Enlightenment where individual human rights was gaining credence over obeying any power, including a king or jealous God. The Enlightenment is what stripped Christianity of its direct political teeth, which is why the U.S. has what Thomas Jefferson called the wall between church and state, no religious test of office, etc.

You are reading history so it supports your side and you’re cherrypicking and minimizing inconvenient data points big time.

Random on February 2, 2012 at 7:55 PM

I’m aware of all that, and I’m not cherrypicking anything. I am not saying the founders instituted a Christian system of government. Quite the opposite. I was merely responding to another poster’s premise that government and Christian ethics cannot be separated. My position was that they can…and were. Saying they operated within a Judeo-Christian framework is simply an observation of fact.

Speaking of cherry-picking, the Enlightenment had little in common with classical Greco-Roman systems of government. In fact, the founders viewed the Greek model of democracy with great suspicion, hence the system of checks and balances. About the most you can say about the influence of Greco-Roman political thought is the architecture and the name of the Senate. Its other big influence was to serve as an example of what not to do.

DRayRaven on February 3, 2012 at 6:02 AM

Social Conservatism ultimately believes that in developing a philosophy, it’s necessary to start with a philosophy of conduct, regarding what constitutes that which is right, good, or fair, be it according to natural or divine law. This philosophy of conduct regarding how man ought to act is known as morality.

Social Conservatism then believes that, since government is a construct of men, then if man is to be moral, the government itself must be moral, and so the laws of the government must conform to the laws of morality. When Libertarians immediately jump on the offensive that this doesn’t mean the government should enforce laws, just the people should enforce it on themselves, I think there’s a useful idea from Catholic doctrines that Social Conservatives would go along with: the sin of omission — an idea that doing nothing in and of itself is a choice, and is thus subject to the same code of conduct at the personal level and hence governmental level.

Stoic Patriot on February 3, 2012 at 1:17 PM

The first is whether the “traditional conservatism” that Santorum refers to aligns with the popular beliefs of those who consider themselves “social conservatives”. Some have pointed out that even the label “Christian Conservative” has a faction all its own. Again, is there any daylight between these labels?

Traditional conservatism would be paleoconservatism. While many cite that this means Goldwater and Libertarianism, I don’t think that’s what Santorum’s getting at. Instead, I’d suggest taking a look at Pat Buchanan for a model of “traditional conservatism.” As for Christian Conservative, certainly, there’s a difference between that and Social Conservatism, not so much in terms of policy, but that Christian Conservatism exists as essentially a subset of Social Conservatism, citing one particular rationale for Social Conservatism. Buchanan would probably be a traditional and social conservative, but not necessarily a Christian conservative, even though he’s a conservative who is Christian.

Stoic Patriot on February 3, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Ahhh, too bad I hadnt the time when this thread was originally posted – I did really like the post and commentary.

Jeddite on February 3, 2012 at 7:35 PM

“When Libertarians immediately jump on the offensive that this doesn’t mean the government should enforce laws, just the people should enforce it on themselves….”

That’s an anarchist perspective. Libertarians believe government should have laws preventing people from taking direct actions to harm others, such as murder, assault, theft, fraud, rape, child molestation, and so on, and in the civil field, to enforce contract law, and in the defense field such laws as are necessary to have an effective military deterrent using a volunteer force with the recognition this is a special area and different rules are necessary.

You are entirely correct if your point is that libertarians don’t believe people should be ordered to do things outside of those, and specifically that they shouldn’t be ordered what they can and can’t do with themselves. You are incorrect when you say that they should “enforce it on themselves”.

On the contrary, they believe they should have the freedom to do what they want, including things you think they shouldn’t do.

Random on February 4, 2012 at 1:36 AM

In short, apply your own damn morals to yourself. Unless I’m directly harming you or someone else, directly mind you, it is none of your damn business.

If I want to hire 15 adult porn stars to take turns blowing me in alteration with them cutting lines of cocaine for me and flipping them an extra few bucks to cut my car’s seatbelts out because this makes me happy, it’s my business.

Random on February 4, 2012 at 2:03 AM

And I might. That actually sounds like a pretty good day.

Random on February 4, 2012 at 2:05 AM

Excellnet Blog post MadCon..Very thought provoking.. :cool:

PS..Good comments also by the Hot Air Green Room community.. :)

Dire Straits on February 4, 2012 at 9:21 AM

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