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November 14, 2008

The Problem with Socially Liberal Republicans...

MattB. writes:

I still ask - aside from Abortion and Gay Marriage, what social issues do these people have in mind?

guns? Amnesty? Sex education? condom handouts? needle handouts? What? And, where do things like entitlement programs fall? People who are socially liberal would probably support entitlement programs to "help those less fortunate" but then what about their supposed economic conservatism? these issues don't exist in a vacuum.

I personally am not a social issues voter, but I find that I trust socially conservative politicians to remain conservative much more than I do the opposite. I can't recall, for instance, a socially conservative politician or jurist who "grew" in office to a leftward tilt. I can, however, name a slew of socially liberal GOPers who "grew" once in office to embrace ever more leftist positions.

I would bet that in the base there are a lot more conservative voters like me, who do not have a lot of intensity for abortion / gay marriage issues in their voting, but who trust socially conservative politicians much more than the opposite. If social conservatism is removed from the GOP, it will drift further and further left. It is unlikely that I (or most of the base) will ever get excited or passionate about a politician who is "socially liberal" and "economically conservative" because I would never really trust such politician not to move to the left on every issue. Indeed, wasn't Paul Tsongas the epitome of such a politician? How does one get excited about Paul Tsongas?

One need only look at libertarian to see this as true. Libertarians are allegedly "socially liberal" and "economically conservative". However, in the last 8 years the main Libertarian magazines, writers, etc., have moved ever further left, finding new rationales to embrace liberal politicians and positions. And, if there was a truly a huge bloc of "socially liberal" and "economically conservative" voters, wouldn't the libertarians do better electorally? Wouldn't dems race to embrace economic conservatism? The fact that neither is true demonstrates that this is not a winning strategy.

I completely forgot about this -- one of the reasons I'm much more supportive of social con politicians than I might otherwise be.

It's true: Once you've crossed the Rubicon and declared yourself pro-life, by and large you're stuck being a conservative. The New York Times hates you and there's absolutely no reason whatsoever to curry favor with them. There is little chance of "evolution" in office once you've already declared yourself a hopelessly devolved troglodyte.

The pro-life position is not for me a position I favor in and of itself -- but a proxy for other positions I care more about. Judicial restraint, for example: Look, if I were playing the Wishing Game, I might suggest that conservative judges give a pass to Roe v. Wade (just to not upset the political applecart) while ruling conservatively on every other issue. But I'm not playing the Wishing Game. In reality, judges who favor Roe v. Wade favor just about every other example of liberal judicial legislating, and judges who are against Roe v. Wade are against every other example of liberal judicial legislating.

As a general matter (with many exceptions, of course), I'm more comfortable voting for pro-lifers than pro-choicers because pro-choice Republicans seem to be eager to find lots of other shared values with Democrats.

There are, again, exceptions. Most most pro-choice readers of this site, for example. (Reading this site is also crossing the Rubicon.)

Rudy Giuliani, as an example of a leader who was pro-choice but otherwise un-evolvable: I knew he was so despised by the liberals (and enjoyed being so despised) that he would never "evolve" into a liberal in office; there was no point to doing so, and he knew it, too.

But as for most pro-choice Republican politicians... well, Bill Weld enthusiastically endorsed Barack Obama, for example. I used to like Bill Weld. In some ways I guess I still do. But here was an example of a liberal Republican, whom we were told was the template for a nonjudgmental, socially liberal style of Republicanism that constituted the Future of the Party... endorsing socialist Barack Obama.

To the extent I bought into the idea that Bill Weld was the "Future of the Party" (PS: I didn't, really, though I liked him well enough as the Future of the Northeastern Liberal Caucus of the Party), it seems I was wrong.

Culture and class is overwhelmingly important in this, and most refuse to acknowledge it. The Christie Todd Whitmans of the party love Bill Weld and hate Sarah Palin. Of course they love Bill Weld-- a liberal Northeastern establishment patrician country-club Republican.

But Sarah Palin? Not quite our class, dear.

I do think Sarah Palin gets too much support for culture/class identification issues -- but, as I think she's a terrific politician, I can't fault people too much for perhaps making the right choice for the wrong reasons. But I do assign some fault; I really wish the base of the party were not so high on supporting people "just like me." Perhaps there's something to said for the "just like me" voting bloc; it's easier to trust someone "just like me" to make decisions that, um, me supports. But "just like me" is merely a proxy for that, and shouldn't tell the tale all by itself. Mitt Romney, for example, was just about as not "just like me" as a politician can get, but I think he would have been a pretty strong conservative president. And Huckabee, with a high "just like me" quotient, would have been a weakly conservative president.

On the other side of the ledger, though: I wish the party's Ivy Axis would stop despising Sarah Palin for having been born blue-collar and daring to be proud of that.*

And that is a major component of their hatred. They're just not comfortable with her class and culture in the way they're comfortable with, say, Barack Obama's class and culture. He may not be of their party, but he's of their class, and class will out, Old Man.

* Or despising Mitt Romney for "selling out his class and cultural cohort."

Pretty Much: lmg writes--

There were enough unusual aspects to this election - a black candidate, a female candidate, the MSM openly campaigning for one side, massive vote fraud, massive contribution fraud, and a massive financial meltdown - that it is probably useless to draw any conclusions from the outcome as to what policy direction to take next time.


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posted by Ace at 02:22 PM

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