Random thoughts on "social conservativism"

This is a set of varied musings that may be of more or less interest and may zig and zag all over the map. Hey, if Thomas Sowell can do it in his columns, an amateur writer ought to be allowed the same freedom to ramble.

My wife and I were in the car the other day listening to Rush Limbaugh and he was talking about the Terry Schiavo tragedy and quoted somebody talking about how this was Bush’s payback to “social conservatives.” Apparently it’s solid gold truth that everyone in the country except for “social conservatives” wants this lady to be killed. I must admit I felt a bit confused as I’ve never considered myself a social conservative. Rush went on to comment that the liberal view of his listeners was we are all ‘angry white males’. My wife looked at me and laughed. I looked back at her and said, “What’s this ‘we’, white woman?”

But I’m apparently the picture of social conservatism. I’m a Deist. At least as near as I can figure what I am religiously. I sympathize with Jefferson’s excising parts of the Bible. I tend to think the book would be a lot better if the New Testament disposed of everything except the red letter parts. I voted against Missouri’s ballot proposal last August to ban gay marriage. Granted, I did it because the idea that government should regulate such a private matter for anyone, gay or straight, offends me. That I am taxed at a different rate because I am married is offensive and that I had to pay a tax for that privilege offends me. But in any case, it’s not a position I would expect to be considered socially conservative. It’s just part and parcel of my armchair anarchism. (I believe I got that from Robert Heinlein. Another not social conservative as far as I can tell.)

I am culturally pro-life. Apparently that is what we mean these days by “socially conservative,” much the same way that we mean “Zioinist” when we say “neoconservative.”

Culturally pro-life. I know that’s going to draw questions. Do I think it would be a great day for America if the last abortionist closed up shop? Definitely. The issue turns, much as did slavery, on the definition of personhood and because of that, unfortunately, I don’t think the issue admits of a political solution, except possibly in a Clausewitzian sense. There are things we can do politically – returning as much power as possible to the states, preventing use of public funds or property for abortions except to save a life, requiring parental notification in most cases. But the bulk of the battle is not political at this point. It’s about reaching individuals – helping women with unplanned pregnancies before they decide on abortion, promoting adoption and ultimately convincing people that the reason most expectant mothers call their unborn baby “my baby” is because it is a baby. (Hey, even Quentin Tarentino and Uma Thurman wrote The Bride avenging the death of her “daughter” not her “fetus” in Kill Bill.) And at some point, perhaps, enough people might realize that an unborn child isn’t a 3/5 human that political options might be viable.

Strange bedfellows. There’s a lot of talk about the social conservative-libertarian split in conservatism and the GOP. I get to share the same strange bedfellows, Christian fundamentalists, as a supporter of nonpolitical pro-life work, supporting things like crisis pregnancy centers. Perhaps because I spend more time around these folks, I’m just not as concerned about this looming ‘split’.

Liberals like to make a lot of noise about how the Founding Fathers were Deists or freethinkers. Well, of course, that’s an overstatement. Certainly Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson were. John Adams certainly wasn’t. In any case, it’s interesting that of the few people I know who have a religious-philosophical outlook anything like the freethinkers among the Founders those I can think of lean towards being pro-life libertarians and in any case there’s not a liberal in the bunch.

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