If the movement is to survive, socially conservative Americans must be willing to form alliances with people who are like-minded on public policy matters, but who also may at times differ on theological matters. This already happens “behind the scenes.” But, unpopular as it may be to some, leaders of the movement need to articulate these kinds of alliances publicly, and to “normalize” such relationships. If this doesn’t happen, we could see the otherwise qualified Romney get snubbed again, simply because he belongs to the “wrong church,“ or, God forbid, Governor Bobby Jindal get rejected because prior to becoming a Christian, he was once a Hindu (and some may find this background distasteful).
The social conservative movement must also ask itself if it is willing to embrace the principles of smaller, limited government. This is essential, because during the Bush presidency social conservatives became quite comfortable with certain types of big government. For example, taxpayer dollars spent on “social welfare” programs were fine, so long as they were “marriage enrichment programs“ or “abstinence only” sex education programs.
But a government entrusted to “teach abstinence” easily becomes the government that teaches “sexual experimentation” and distributes condoms, and the agenda changes according to which political sensibilities are prevailing in Washington at any given moment. Thus, government is an inherently unreliable partner for advancing social conservative causes, and the solution to the dilemma is to have less government permeating our lives - - not more.
The movement must also contemplate what, precisely, are the great “moral issues” of our time. For over three decades, social conservatives have done tremendous work speaking to America’s collective conscience about the sanctity of the human person, and the virtues entailed in the institutions of marriage and family. As a result, millions of Americans - - loosely described as “values voters” - - understand the “moral issues” of marriage and abortion, and vote on these issues accordingly.
But an exclusive focus on marriage and abortion is insufficient. Today we have a President whose “economic plan“ completely undermines the moral virtues of thrift, hard work, personal responsibility, and personal charity. His “green energy” environmental plans elevate the interests of plant and animal life over and above the interests of human life. And his plans to nationalize healthcare, which inevitably leads to healthcare rationing, threatens to undermine the sanctity of the elderly, disabled, and terminally ill.
Now, perhaps more than ever, America needs the social conservative movement to address these issues. They are biomedical, environmental, and economic issues, yes. But they are most certainly “moral issues.”
Which of the movement’s leaders are up to the task?
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.