One of the worst lies told by so-called “moderate” Republicans in each election year is that while they are “fiscally conservative,” they are also “socially liberal” or “moderate.” This attempt to ignore reality is perhaps less excusable than the constant delusion of the left, because these people aren’t insane. They’re simply wrong, and they know it. Part of it stems from a desire to avoid seeming “judgmental,” but if truth be told, only the worst possible judgment can originate in the minds of those who accept this shoddy idea. Attempting to walk the fine line between the political left and right, they’re not capable of energizing their base or even capturing a substantial portion of the squishy middle. The reason is simple: Their would-be supporters immediately recognize that the fatal flaws of the latter position negates any virtue to be found in the former.
Consider President George W. Bush, whose argument was that he’s a compassionate conservative. The base implication of that label is that conservatives have no compassion. It was designed to reassure voters that he’s a social moderate. His first term punctuated the notion, as he assisted in crafting laws on social policy including the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, and an education act that was drafted largely by such great conservatives(?) as Teddy Kennedy. These programs will eventually have cost Americans hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars, all in service to a liberal social agenda. How can one then contend that the notion of a fiscal conservative and the idea of a social liberal/moderate could be anything but mutually exclusive?
Because Bush claimed to be a conservative, however, many on the right happily went along with the programs in the name of ‘bi-partisanship.’ We’ve seen recently in the Debt Ceiling debate what that sort of joined-hands surrender to the left this approach offers up in the end: A complete and utter failure that serves no one but government. What really defines a social liberal isn’t merely the so-called “social issues,” but the unflinching willingness to spend tax-payers’ dollars on them. It is this fundamental contradiction with all such “ideological moderates” that labels them dishonest brokers for a failed statist ideal. Many got a moments’ chuckle from my post on the mythical program S-GROPE, but these are the sorts of mindless, destructive federal expenditures born of moderate Republicans.
Consider what would have been the case if moderate John McCain had been elected in 2008. He too would have enacted some sort of health-care reform, but Republicans would have surrendered in sufficient numbers to pass it because of the shoddy notion of party loyalty, rather than loyalty to principle. Since McCain didn’t win, Republicans made a principled stand against it, and the issue is still very much in doubt as Federal courts continue to find parts or the whole of the law to be unconstitutional, nearly ensuring it will have a future date before the United States Supreme court. Had it been enacted by a moderate Republican like John McCain, few would have said even a word in opposition, and they would have been painted as “Hobbits” or “terrorists” or some other smear.
This is why when you see a governor like Rick Perry, willing to use the power of the state to require vaccines against the spread of a behaviorally-transmitted disease like HPV, you can bet you’re looking at another moderate “do-gooder” willing to spend the peoples’ treasure on the advancement of a leftist policy imperative. Not satisfied with defaming all girls twelve years or older in the state of Texas as sexually active, he actually wanted to mandate this and have it administered at school, without charge. Notice how the social moderate winds up always dismissing his fiscal conservatism in the name of some imagined public good on behalf of statist dogma.
Consider Mitt Romney’s ridiculous health-care plan in the state of Massachusetts. It’s not possible to suggest that Mr. Romney doesn’t understand how ridiculously simplistic his arguments in favor of a mandate are under logical scrutiny. First, he offers that it’s a states’ rights issue. That really doesn’t hold water, so instead he offers up a sorry analogy to auto insurance. What sort of auto insurance may any state mandate on drivers? Liability insurance. They don’t mandate collision or comprehensive or road-side assistance or towing or any of the other options you can purchase with your policy. They require only that you cover the losses and damages you inflict upon others. In all logic, there can be no way to contort health insurance to fit such a mold, and yet this is the policy initiative of a man who claims to be a conservative.
These are among the sort of issues in which the social liberalism reveals the true nature of one’s fiscal orientation. When a politician claims to be a “social moderate,” he or she is attempting to govern as a liberal, but generally more slowly, hoping to disguise it all behind the ski-mask labeled “fiscal conservatism,” and further hoping you won’t notice the philosophical slight of hand. Unfortunately for them, voters catch on to this maneuver quickly, and the slick ones will always try to stay a bit ahead of the unmasking, some of them now claiming to be social conservatives on the basis of their professed faith, or their stance on one or more divisive issues preferred by people of faith.
In 2012, we conservatives will be faced with two momentous questions: First, which candidate for the nomination will we support, and second, will we show up to vote in the election? It’s my contention, aimed squarely at the GOP establishment, that if we don’t nominate a real common-sense conservative, this time, that will provide the answer to the second question. Rather than preach to us about the necessity of winning at the expense of our principles, it would be surprising if those glorious advocates of compromise would allow themselves to see it our way, for once in a generation. Rather than being the hidden enemy in our home encampment, let them discard their principle of the center stripe, upon which we’re frequently mowed down, and side with us for a change. A real change.