A better theory, though, would see government as the cause of at least huge chunks of the decadence in our culture.
The backstory, here, is really one of secularized Christianity. Not Christian teaching as such, but people, moved to help others — many folks sole take-away from the Gospels — demand that government help folks directly. Thus the building up of the welfare state.
But the welfare state has consequences. It makes it easier — even rewards — families for splitting up. Government policy, by reducing the risks for out-of-wedlock births, has encouraged much of the behavior that social conservatives decry.
I understand where DeMint is coming from, of course. And I know how vexed he must be when government, having nudged people into a culture of sexual carelessness, then tries to correct this by encouraging a worldly wisdom of, say, condom use rather than traditional morality.
But to still see government as a savior, rather than the chief malefactor to blame, strikes me as a sad omen for DeMints future progress as Tea Party stalwart.
You may think this is just a lapse. Surely DeMint wouldnt do anything to undermine the cause of restraining government profligacy. Im not so sure. Consider his most infamous recent claim, as reported by the Spartanburg Herald-Journal:
DeMint said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldnt be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who's sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldnt be in the classroom.
(When I said those things,) no one came to my defense, he said. But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldnt back down. They dont want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion.
Once again, its easy to sympathize. As a father of three home-schooled daughters, I understand the moral element in delegating responsibility for our childrens education. But DeMint apparently hasnt come to realize that in an open society not everyones every moral preference can be upheld in a government enterprise. My moral notions compete with my neighbors — and some of them are Hindu, Protestant, Jewish, and humanist. Are we going to agree? Who gets to decide? Does the majority haveÂ full rights and their freedom to [sic] religion that minorities lack?
This is where too many social conservatives just havent politically grown up. They dont see freedom as the solution. They see control as a solution. Instead of working for greater choice in schooling, they still try to stack school boards with their kinds of people and govern public schools by their rules.
A sad end for the Tea Party movement, if this sort of thing becomes common, and commonly associated with fiscal restraint and balanced budgets.
The question social conservative Tea Partiers have to ask themselves is this: Are we willing to wait to restore economic sense to government until everyone else has converted to modesty and the strict morality of the Ten Commandments?
I sure hope, for all our sakes, that they can prioritize, instead. Government is no savior. At best it might do a few things well, if confined to a few constitutionally limited tasks. But its not going to spread the wisdom of chastity, and its not going to convert the masses of the faithless to anyones religious philosophy.
Besides, this is a very American idea, that some forms of social change are best encouraged not by politics or bureaucracy or law, but by families, churches, and good old-fashioned persuasion.
Priorities, folks. Dont make of social conservatism the Tea Party Republican version of what bailouts and socialized medicine became for the Democrats: Their natural way to lose control of the future.