November 9, 2006

Let's Get One Thing Straight: Core Beliefs

Justin Katz

An emergent strain of thought that ought to be quashed appears in the comments to my most recent post. Writes Greg:

Maybe it's time for Republicans to return to their roots? Let's go back to the start, decide what we believe in, and build a whole new platform.

Do we really need to be anti-gay? How does that really help us? ...

Are we really on the right side of the cloning debate? Are we saving babies or just stifling technological growth?

How can we properly frame the debate on social programs so that we can all come to an understanding and a middle ground?

Most of these things aren't hard if we put politics aside and start talking to each other like people that want to SOLVE problems.

Writes congressional candidate Jon Scott:

...we need to put aside our differences and come to some sort of agreement on flashpoint issues that divide the Party and pull us away from forward progress. That was one of the central tenets of my campaign.

In his comments, Hayden wrote: “The party needs to recruit some moderate, smart, energetic young people to make them relevant” and I couldn’t agree more as long as those recruits agree that taxes should be low, government should be small, and the US should have a strong national defense.

Some on this board will bristle at that sentiment because their definition of conservative is somewhat different. The problem is that those three principles are our core beliefs as a Party and we have abandoned them for social conservatism. It is fine to be socially conservative but we cannot be so at the expense of our core beliefs and that is what has happened in Washington.

The place to begin is with Greg's suggestion that we can "SOLVE problems" if only we'd put politics aside. The essential and unmitigable reality is that he has the democratic process exactly backwards. It is politics that enables us to resolve more fundamental differences — to "solve problems" as a civic grouping without devolving into violence. In other words, if we put politics aside, we aren't digging down to shared core beliefs, but rather, we are exposing our core beliefs as incompatible.

For example: If you want me to buy that the greater good is served by backing down the path toward evil (just a little, just this once, promise) to grant medical scientists the right to federal funds in order to clone and kill embryos, I say no sale. If you want me to compromise the crucial institution of marriage to gain the votes of people too spineless or indifferent to stand up to emotional blackmail, I say no deal. If you want me to accept that mothers can "initiate the demise" of their children as long as an inch of the newly formed bodies have not yet tasted air, I say, so help me God, no.

These are "core beliefs." These are principles. You put politics aside, and this is what you get.

Low taxes and small government are preferences that must serve more substantive beliefs. For some — to give the liberal cliché its due — those more substantive beliefs are greed and selfishness. For others, they are liberty and independence. For still others, they are means toward the development of moral maturity. The political system is what enables us to work together, despite fundamental differences, to implement our shared governmental preferences. With those preferences in place, we act in other arenas (most notably, the social sphere) in order to turn them toward our ends.

I wouldn't be surprised if a significant portion of modern lowercase-L libertarians would allow all that I've written thus far — whether out of agreement or for the sake of argument. The friction appears when we acknowledge — or put forward for acknowledgment — the fact that libertarianism is negated not by social conservatives, but by liberals. What do we do when, as is currently the case, social conservatives must put aside their preferences for the sake of defending their core beliefs against liberals? How ought libertarians and the representatives of our shared Republican coalition respond when social conservatives feel it necessary — as with abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage — to assert their core beliefs beyond the social sphere, into the civic sphere?

What I would advise is sufficiently obvious that I won't be so forward as to make you read something that goes without saying. I will express, however, my analytical understanding that a political party will not win majority support based on civic preferences alone. Of itself, the statement "you should support small government" lacks a "because."

Most definitely, Republicans must decide what they believe in. Personally, I think social conservatives provide a supremely rich supply of compelling "becauses," if only libertarians and "moderates" would trace conservatives' reasoning back from our points of agreement. If the first two groups come to agree that the third group is correct on this or that issue, then we will jointly be able to articulate our platform in broader terms. If disagreement remains, then we will jointly be able to articulate why inclusion of arguable parts of our platform allows broader advancement.

But if Republicans' conclusion is that it is not politically expedient to support that which I actually do believe, on higher planes than politics and government mechanisms, then they cannot count me among their number.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Okay. Good. We're having a discussion of ideas and ideals.

Stem cell research. Firmly against. How about if we can the same results using the bllod cells from the placenta or the umbilical cord, as is being currently explored? Are we cool with that?

As for the other 'core beliefs' I mentioned, where is our wiggle room on these?

I'm not looking to turn our backs on our core beliefs. I'm just looking to look at them seriously, decide if we're dinosaurs on some of these issues or not, and maybe trying to evolve into a party that just might attract a few percentage points in the 18-35 crowd.

I'm f*ing TIRED of being equated with wanting to starve children, poison the water, and keep sick homeless people sick. I'm tired of being bought and paid for by big business.

I still hate unions, taxes and government in my underwear drawer.

Let's discuss.

Posted by: Greg at November 9, 2006 8:41 PM

Oddly enough, I don't consider myself a conservative, but a moderate. Yet I would say that my core beliefs on abortion, stem cell and marriage align relatively identically with Justin's. What I prefer in Congress, is an equal mixture of Republican and Democratic politicians. I think that would provide the best representation of and for the American public overall.

Posted by: smmtheory at November 9, 2006 10:33 PM

Good post, Justin

Posted by: Anthony at November 9, 2006 10:38 PM
How about if we can the same results using the bllod cells from the placenta or the umbilical cord, as is being currently explored?

Actually, I'm pretty sure that what you're referring to is, indeed, stem cell research. However, it's not embryonic stem cell research, and therefore it is fine — wonderful, even.

I'm just looking to look at them seriously, decide if we're dinosaurs on some of these issues or not, and maybe trying to evolve into a party that just might attract a few percentage points in the 18-35 crowd.

Well, inasmuch as I'll be within that age category for two more election cycles, I'm not sure what your concern is. Beyond the extent to which we can generally say that adults are capable of making up their own minds, young adults are more interested in rational conviction than, say, liberal conviction. They want to mature. But there are, to simplify, two versions of maturity:

  • Be your own rebel "maturity"
  • Be your own responsible actor maturity

We really shouldn't be deciding what is and is not moral or appropriate with the responses of demographic categories in mind. Rather, how we move forward with our convictions is how we attract support.

If you're tired of being equated with things that you dislike, patiently explain why those things are different from the policies that you support.

(Ain't saying it's easy. Just that it's mature and that it's right.)

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 9, 2006 10:46 PM

Perhaps the law of diminishing returns has set in re: gay bashing. Judging from the exit polls, a growing number of evangelicals are tired of being pandered to by the Rick Santorums, J.D. Hayworths, etc. of the world.
Over the past 20 years, every time the Democrats have tried to move to the center (this year's crop of newly elected congresspeople, Clinton, etc.), the GOP has responded by moving even farther right. That dog can only hunt so long before he's had enough. Heck, even Dubya was elected as a uniter - he only became a divider after the Taliban had been defeated.

Posted by: Rhody at November 9, 2006 11:28 PM

Exit polls my @$$ - Hayworth's opponent ran to his right on the definitive issue in that race. Arizona is being Californicated to the point that it is showing some purple, but don't spin the gay marriage ban defeat as a bellweather (look how it fared in gay friendly Wisconsin). Arizonans know that they are one state that doesn't need it, as the courts are sane and the state constitution isn't muddled. The Dem-elect is a border hawk, providing he did not lie to get elected, so even the "California wave" is against Bush's version of comprehensive amnesty. Sorry Rhody - you're going to just have to content yourself with the ossification of RI liberalism. Heck - it's set in amber with the passage of the Craig Price Franchise Act of '06 (which I know you are personally very proud of). Huzzah!

Posted by: rhodeymark at November 11, 2006 8:17 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.