Politico's reporting of the two-day event typified the tone. "The day after Haley Barbour implored the crowd not to put ideological purity over pragmatism for the general election as they pick a 2012 GOP candidate, Rick Santorum took to the podium at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington to make a different case. In a strong pitch to the mostly evangelical crowd on Saturday morning, the former Pennsylvania senator cast social conservative issues as the defining ones for the country -- and for the Republican Party."
It is true that many conservative commentators and some candidates see social conservatism and economic conservatism as in both conceptual and electoral competition with each other. Certainly, Democratic Party strategists hope that is how the two main components of modern conservatism see each other.
And because America has been a right-of-center country since our founding, conservatives tend to lose national elections when we are the victims, often self-inflicted, of the liberal strategy against us of Divide et Impera (Divide and Rule) -- what James Madison called "the reprobated axiom of tyranny." Once again this season, well-intentioned conservatives and Republicans see an ideological conflict that need not exist.
My understanding of conservatism and my experience in presidential campaigns (starting in Barry Goldwater's 1964 primary campaign in California against Nelson Rockefeller) is to the contrary. Strong support for tradition, custom, moral behavior and religious faith (so-called social conservatism) is the equal handmaiden of free-market capitalism advocacy. They are the two parts that make up the one, whole concept of political conservatism.
This conceptual unity of principle was established at the very founding of capitalism. The efficacy of free markets was most famously articulated by Adam Smith in 1776 when he published "Wealth of Nations." But Smith had first described the moral context in which capitalism could be successful in his earlier book, "The Theory of Moral Sentiments" published in 1759. It is only the force of moral sentiment that bridles capitalism from straying toward pure materialism. And unbridled pure materialism -- whether of the left or right --ends up in reigns of terror, gulags and holocausts.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.