Social Conservative Sounds Somewhat Sane

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Like many others here and in blogland, I have enjoyed reading and hearing the dancing circular firing squad that is the conservative movement analyze the meaning of an Obama presidency and issue lofty calls for how to restructure the GOP and by extension the meaning of conservatism in America.

The conservative movement is by no means dead, it has a nasty ailment and in the long run it will survive. As has been repeated elsewhere Obama is not symbolic figurehead for progressive ideals and there is no reason to feel cocky, just a touch relieved.

I happened to stumble upon a post by a self described social conservative who sounded almost rational. He projects like a man with whom I would have quite a range of disagreements with. However, he also writes in a coherent rational manner that suggests his ideology is not rooted in fanatical hatred. I am not going to suggest that I am now worshiping at the tarnished shrine of bipartisanship. What he represents to me is a group of people who I think were largely silenced by extremists in his own party. I happen to know an awful lot of social conservatives who are decent people who might be puzzled by those who are different but harbor no specific grudge or anger.

You can read his whole post here and I will excerpt the parts I found interesting.

He isn’t very impressed by those who suggest the cure is move further right….

In any event, we are yet again treated to the insane concept that in order to regain our national footing, all we have to do is get more socially conservative. Apparently, the fact that we have lost young people, college educated voters, moderates, city dwellers, middle class suburbanites – this has everything to do with the fact that somehow we’ve been less socially conservative than we should have been.

Please, ladies and gentlemen, pardon my French, but are you fucking kidding me?

I have had enough of this garbage, absolutely enough. There are two reasons republicans have lost all of those groups, who should naturally be aligned to them. The first is they have betrayed what they said they were about – which is small government, spending restraint, government reform, ethical power, lower taxes and balanced budgets – and the second is that they have branded themselves as a regional party of southern religious demagogues who do not care about good government, but are instead only interested in fighting the culture war.

It turns out that despite being a republican and believing in what he thinks are the ideals of his party ( and this is one of many place where I disagree), the party is not exactly winning him over right now…

These are not the same people, folks. And the very notion that somehow we haven’t been socially conservative enough, after having a president in office for eight years who cited Jesus as his favorite philosopher, is laughable. We’ve had nothing but a focus on abortion, gays and the small town vs. metro America for a decade, and what has it left us with?

And don’t even start with me on the “John McCain’s problem was he never talked about social issues” – that just proves how little you understand about this election, why Obama won and why McCain struggled. If you think coming out for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage would have rallied this country, brought people together and given him an electoral mandate – please stop following politics.

This man it turns out despite self identifying as a social conservative would like to be spared annoying advice about how he or others should be living. Here is a guy who despite his stance on issues clearly believes in democracy and disagreement not theology and marching in lock step in really cool uniforms….

The funny thing is, I am socially conservative. I am not entirely comfortable with the idea of gay marriage, and I am extremely pro-life, among other things. I’m religious (practicing Catholic), I prefer small town America to urban cement, and I have a wife and young family. The most irritating thing about people who are advocating for more social conservatism is they don’t understand why they are driving people like me away from them.

I’m socially conservative, but I (and you will find 85% of people my age) have absolutely no tolerance for that much time and effort being devoted to telling people how to live, exalting God in a secular government, and dividing good people who disagree into “real” and “phony” or “down to earth” and “elitist”. I have no interest in that kind of garbage

In others words here is a guy who should be quite in tune with the republican party telling some of them to STFU.

Nor does he have much Patience for the anti-intellectualism that drenches the right….

I believe in the value of the intellectual, urban dwelling young person – I am only skeptical of those who hold their noses in the air about it. I am very reluctant to get excited about anyone running my government that doesn’t get curious about certain intellectual pursuits, particularly relating to government affairs.

He is actually a person the Dems much want to pay attention to. He still has hope for the soul of the republican party right now and never mentions even considering the Dems but nor does he demonize them. He goes on in his post to urge pragmatism over ideology and to suggest his party emphasize traditional small government themes and to abandon the culture war tactic.

Too soon to tell which way the republicans will lean. Makes me what how many other social conservatives are in fact a little weary of the hatred and ideology heavy bat their own party has been swinging. And hey, with all that effort they didn’t hit the home run did they?


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  1. I abhor. I would not go so far as to call past traditional conservatives as sane, as the roots of the present social conservatives go back to the settlers who started this country. I grew up listening to heated debates between my mom and dad, over whether or not FDR wrecked the country, and Kennedy vs Nixon. Commies featured heavily as they were the devils.

    I recently read or tried to read the Federalist Papers and found myself getting furious over the right wing assholes who existed right from beginning LOL. All of our history reflects this ideological conflict. However the conservative end really ran amok when it formed this unholy alliance of the worst of the fat cats, replete with neocons (fascists), with the worst of the populist, pig ignorant, fanatical Fundies and all the social conservatives who rallied to the cries of Heartland and values.

    They went to far thank God. I do not think the Republican Party can pull itself out of this on any level. They will go the way of the Whigs. They severed their ties with real conservatives. I for one hope they don’t figure out that the way to regroup is to return to a saner version of conservative.

    As for now when canvasing for Obama other then the downright crazy haters I was thanked over and ever by ‘conservatives’ who professed horror at what their party had done to the country. We as a nation need a break from ‘social conservatives’ let the pendulum swing until real conservatives regroup into something other then ‘social’ which is another word for values that are non democratic in the larger sense. Legislating the culture of ignorance and hate backed by fear, is the worst of our culture, and has nothing to do with democracy, or the Law.        


  2. … I guess I’ll be the contrarian here.  You say:

    He is actually a person the Dems much want to pay attention to.

    I think the Dems have been paying far too much attention to this kind of person, who is overly represented by Blue Dog Democrats.

    I think both Repubs and Dems have paid a hell of a lot of attention to this kind of person.

    And way too little towards everyone else, so many of whom have been virtually ignored (if not outright oppressed) these past 8 years.

    I hope more moderate Republicans reform their party — it is their obligation to do so, imo.  But I have no interest as a Dem in putting my focus upon them, nor am I surprised to see so many of them realize they’ve been making the damned wrong choice for far too long, given the unbelievable damage the Republican party has done to this country.

  3. …has a soul?  Do they keep it in a small snuff-box, where it blunders about moth-like?  

    If we’d lost right wingers would be pontificating about how some of us were sounding sane right now, but it would not be thee or me 🙂  I don’t know how eager Obama is to triangulate or what’s going to happen…I suspect that the new administration is so busy going “holy crap” they aren’t in the market yet for the clintonesque, though surely there will some of that.  Maybe a lot….

  4. For the bump….

    • pfiore8 on November 11, 2008 at 2:34 am

    i’ve been, in vain, trying to get those on the left to realize that anywhere from 45 to 35% of red states (this time round) voted for Obama. people surrounded by fundies et al. there are many who want to be moved.

    this guy is not the only one. but maybe the left doesn’t care about people like him.

    he’s not a republican or party leadership. he’s an american trying to fit his needs to a party. he’s not tom delay or karl rove.

    and i’m a bit tipsy. back from the neighbors (ej had to go to Philly today for business and i decided to stay home and study dutch). late, but i too heady to go to bed yet.

    and no. it is not a good idea to leave this guy alone. or people like him. we have not paid nearly enough attention to people like this.

    because we need as many as we can find to move this thing out of the fucking quick sand.

    • pfiore8 on November 11, 2008 at 2:40 am

    i saw today at dkos a diary about how we have been deceived into thinking this is a center right country.

    and i’ve been slammed pretty hard for insisting on just that story: it’s just not true… this is NOT a center right nation. the polls have told us this for 30 years or so. my campaigning for gore and kerry have told me so, on a personal level.

    ordinary americans… who’s interested in them? but now, i guess Obama and his campaign team will soften this idea. good for them.

  5. Wow man… that was an awfully complimentary article – I really appreciate you not only taking the time to read what I wrote, but also breaking it down and talking about it both.

    I do want to speak just a moment about myself, just to give a clear picture of my brain and how it politically works.  I referred to myself as a “social conservative” a number of times throughout the article – but I think I did not properly talk about the definitions I was referring to.

    PERSONALLY, I am a very socially conservative person.  I for example, favor slow, methodical, deliberate and reasonable change to society as opposed to radical reshaping of the social agenda.  I happen to be uncomfortable with how the gay lobby goes about its business of pushing its agenda (though I can’t express to you in words how little I care about gay marriage being legal), I’m pro-life and I’m reasonably religious in a “I have my faith, I don’t talk about it much, but I believe in it and try to live by it way” – which, by the way, makes me often despise evangelicals who wear it on their sleeve and push it in everyone’s faces.

    POLITICALLY, however, I do want to note just for the record, that I am a social libertarian.  My own personal social conservative point of view does not apply to my belief about how public policy should be undertaken, and I do not believe it is consistent to want to use the state to legislate society while you simultaneously say you want to restrict the government’s interference in our lives, especially economically.

    Just doesn’t make sense to me.  Neither does favoring social freedom from government tyranny, while favoring economic intervention using the government’s heavy hand – but that’s an article for another time.

    So it comes down to (for me) which consistent philosophy am I comfortable with?  Government out of my life both economically and socially, or Government attempting to legislate my life.  I came down on the freedom from government side.

    So, thus is the genesis of my point of view.

    For those of you who liked what I wrote (which truly [honestly] flatters the living hell out of me), I know many of you may not like the Republicans, and I can see why… just take heart in this little observation of mine over the years.

    I am 27, and throughout my time in High School, College and in my working career in the past decade and a half-ish, I have encountered literally tens of thousands of republicans who are somewhere around my age… the young republicans if you will.  I have a degree in political science so I had the chance to be exposed to many of them.

    Anyway, in my time being exposed to these people, I found that the OVERWHELMING majority of them had a worldview that was more or less in line with what I wrote in that piece, and what I have written here.  That is, a hands off my life socially and economically point of view – “leave me alone” if you will, brand of libertarian-republicanism.

    So, as this generation of republicans takes over the party in say 10-20 years or so (maybe longer, we’ll see), the solace I think we can all take is that THIS philosophy is the one that will be winning out, because its the overwhelming majority of how we think.

    Sure, there will be some young idiots who end up following the party leaders like sheep and take up their initiatives as their own in a vain attempt to gain influence within the party and suck up to the insiders so they can eventually lead, but its the grassroots that will end up driving who believes what (democrats proved that this cycle), and eventually this will win out.

    So – anyway, once again thank you very very very much for all the kind words about my article, and your site is a great read.  I wish you guys all the best.

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