Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Social liberals

Scottie Hughes foresees the Democrats making a play for the libertarian vote:

As the Democrats watch the Tea Party and other Conservative groups continue to grow in momentum towards 2014, they know they must appeal to Libertarians. And it is their libertine social views that could be an opening for voter recruitment. Watch as the Democrats start running more emotional campaign commercials focused on issues like equal marriage rights for all, how pot can relieve painful health symptoms, and an oppressive national security apparatus.

That strategy may work in irreligious and urban areas, but not in the real world.

What persuades “economic conservatives/social liberals” to vote in the latter interest instead of the former? Why do they side with the party that eschews property rights and subdues the individual and his labor under the direction of the state?

Typically, the social liberal voter is not susceptible to the symptoms of a deteriorating culture. He is disciplined, educated, and wealthy enough to be spared the bad choices that can send others and their families into a death spiral of economic and social dislocation. He lives in an area, urban and increasingly suburban, where he is spared having to deal with sin’s worst consequences in his community. He is comfortably married or comfortably unmarried. If he uses prostitutes or marijuana, they do not consume him materially as they do addicts of sex or drugs. (As for the “oppressive national security apparatus,” the social liberal is mostly uninterested in this invisible menace. He gave up his privacy when he uploaded his life to the public doman. As long as the police aren’t harassing him, he is content.)

For those less fortunate than the social liberal, which make up a majority of his countrymen, scarce means provide little to no buffer to potentially life-changing mistakes. Adherence to a rigid moral system is essential to avoid falling into disfunction. To rise above his condition, the bottom-half income earner needs a work ethic that rejects sin and sloth, that rejects government’s inducements and incentives to backslide. He views his pursuit of the American dream in its totality, with no arbitrary split between “economic” and “social” issues. They are life issues.

The social liberal sees himself as having excelled on his own merits, not on the cultural leftovers of a morality whose origins escape his understanding. Morality is not determinative of human flourishing. As a matter of course, he rejects morality as a foundation for the law. He is given to bromides about “theocracy,” the “Christian right,” and all the rest.

The moment in which social liberal becomes the economic conservative’s primary identification approaches. His property and income provide more than adequately for the necessities of life. Less taxation and regulation would be nice, as they would provide a boost in productivity and income. But defunding dependency programs that serve an underclass who falsely have no moral recourse to their plight, in his mind, does not justify the marginal material gains. So he votes Democratic, against his interests and more so against the interests of his countrymen.

The moral argument for limited government should resonate with libertarians. Of that argument, social conservatism occupies a broad niche. Social conservatism is the recognition of family and community as the primary agents of peace and prosperity—not government. It is a set of natural answers to a problem posed to societies by human nature: How do you make good people?

Marriage, for example, is the voluntary system, entered into by husband and wife, in which their children are socialized and prepared to flourish in society. Marriage’s role in this endeavor is more fundamental to the future of society than constitutional government.

There’s no better source on this than Ryan T. Anderson:

For highly dependent infants, there is no path to physical, moral, and cultural maturity—no path to personal responsibility—without a long, delicate process of ongoing care and supervision to which mothers and fathers bring unique gifts. Unless children mature, they never will become healthy, upright, productive members of society.

Marriage exists to make men and women responsible to each other and to any children that they might have.

Marriage is thus a personal relationship that serves a public purpose in a political community. As the late sociologist James Q. Wilson wrote, “Marriage is a socially arranged solution for the problem of getting people to stay together and care for children that the mere desire for children, and the sex that makes children possible, does not solve.”

The late atheistic philosopher Bertrand Russell echoed the sentiment: “But for children, there would be no need of any institution concerned with sex,” he wrote. “[I]t is through children alone that sexual relations become of importance to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution.”

Not every marriage will produce children, but every child is the result of a male-female union—and needs a mom and a dad. Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces.

Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. State recognition of marriage protects children. How? By encouraging men and women to commit to each other permanently and exclusively—and to take responsibility for their children.

Redefining marriage lays the groundwork for an activist state. By redistributing marriage, by turning marriage into an arrangement solely for the consenting parties’ happiness, fulfillment, validation, etc., the institution becomes hostile to the stability and lasting love children need. When families can no longer provide for their children a stable, loving home, the state will assume that responsibility, growing ever larger.

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