Economic conservatives have aggressively opposed President Obama’s agenda to radically expand government, financed by deficits that run into the trillions. If social conservatives want to protect America’s families and social values, they must join with fiscal conservatives to oppose President Obama and reverse America’s culture of debt.
America was built on individual opportunity. This is the core of the economic conservative agenda. The family unit is the core building block of American society. This is the heart of the social conservative agenda.
There is a key overlap here that many conservatives—and even their leaders—overlook. Living within your means and managing your finances to avoid long-term debt is part of building strong families, providing for your children and teaching them to provide for themselves.
I recently attended a lecture given by Charles Murray at the Annual Meeting of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), in which he said that the only four human institutions characterized by deep personal satisfaction are family, community, vocation and faith. Mr. Murray argues that the goal of social policy is to ensure that these institutions are robust and vital.
Many people have heard of Adam Smith’s most famous book, The Wealth of Nations, which helped lay the foundation for free market systems and classical economics. Fewer people have heard of another of Adam Smith’s books, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. He argues that humans possess a moral sense that causes us to approve certain actions while condemning others. The grandfather of modern economics believed that a sense of morality was necessary for a society to flourish.
Both economic and social conservatives need to grasp the common ground here. Strong families are essential to strong economies, and financial management is a key family value.
Recently, America has been moving from a culture of ownership to a culture of debt. People went from wanting to own their home and car and have enough for retirement to making monthly payments on everything they consume while relying on someone else (the government) to pay all the bills when they get older.
As others have said, the president’s agenda would bury our children and even our grandchildren under a mountain range of debt. President Obama is saddling people who have not yet even been born with debt incurred by spending wealth that has not yet even been created.