Not so long ago, the prevailing political fashion dictated that a Republican elected official who spent his entire career advancing big government -- while also advocating such things as legalized abortion -- should insist on describing himself as a "fiscal conservative."
In reality, no such creature ever existed.
Examination of the actual voting records of professional politicians who called themselves "fiscal conservatives" invariably produced copious evidence they were anything but conservative.
Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania exemplified the type. When he appeared on CNN in 1995 to tell Larry King he would be seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 1996, Specter declared, "I'm an economic fiscal conservative and a social libertarian."
In relatively recent times, Specter provided a good indicator of what he meant by "fiscal conservative" when he voted -- while still a Republican -- for President Barack Obama's $787 billion "stimulus" law.
But perhaps Specter's defining moment as a "fiscal conservative and social libertarian" came in 2007 when he voted against an amendment to a foreign-aid bill that prohibited funding "any organization or program which, as determined by the president, supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization."
Specter's fiscally conservative, social-libertarian principles evidently forbade him from voting to stop the federal government from taking money from American taxpayers and handing it over to international organizations that help foreign regimes in programs aimed at tracking down expectant mothers and, against the will of those mothers, slaughtering their unborn children.
Yet even more incoherent than the old concept of the "fiscal conservative" is a new concept exemplified by a group of political actors who insist on taking up the name conservative, affixing some adjective to it and then seeking to advance elements of the homosexual-activist agenda. In fact, there can be no such thing as a pro-gay-agenda conservative.
By definition, conservatives are against the gay agenda because the gay agenda ultimately seeks to overturn the moral order that makes freedom possible. Fidelity to the natural law -- including in the laws of our land -- is at the very core of what conservatives seek to conserve.
This week, a group led by Chris Barron, the chairman of a group called GOProud -- which says on its website it "represents gay conservatives and their allies" -- sent a letter to House Speaker-to-be John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in which the writers professed to speak on behalf of conservatives in warning the Republican leaders not to take up social issues in the coming Congress. Barron was joined in the letter by GOProud's executive director and by a number of people associated with local tea party organizations.
"On behalf of limited government conservatives everywhere we write to urge you and your colleagues in Washington to put forward a legislative agenda in the next Congress that reflects the principles of the tea party movement," wrote Barron and his allies.
"This election was not a mandate for the Republican Party, nor was it a mandate to act on any social issue, nor should it be interpreted as a political blank check," they wrote.
First, "limited government conservative" is redundant. To be conservative is to be for limited government -- precisely because, as the Declaration of Independence makes clear, the purpose of government is to protect (not infringe on) our God-given rights, including the right to life.
Secondly, most of the new Republicans elected to Congress on Nov. 2 told voters they were pro-life and pro-marriage. What GOProud and its allies are saying to these new congressmen is that when they get to Washington, D.C., they should not act on the principles they told voters they stood for when they ran for office. That can hardly be a tenet of the tea party.
Thirdly, at the same time GOProud is warning the Republican leadership it has no "mandate to act on any social issue" in the next Congress, it is calling on Republicans in the Senate to act on a social issue central to GOProud's own agenda -- in the lame-duck session of the Democratic majority Congress that will take place before a single tea party-backed candidate elected on Nov. 2 can come to Washington and take office.
A Nov. 11 "GOProud" press release called for the lame-duck Congress to repeal the ban on homosexuals in the military. "We look forward to working with our Republican allies in the Senate over the next few weeks to make repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell a reality," said GOProud Chairman Barron.
Far from being the spokesmen for newly elected conservatives or the voters who are sending them to Washington to throw the bums out, GOProud and its so-called "limited government conservatives" urgently want the bums to take action on their social-issues agenda now, while Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats still control Congress.