The Spitfire's Grill
Regular Rants from a Pragmatic Liberal
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
This post at dKos makes me sick. First, social conservatives are nothing like the Taliban. Is James Dobson a nut job? Absolutely. But associating the movement he leads with ultra-reactionaries and terrorists accomplishes little. So I'd like to spend a post talking about values. I'd much prefer to talk about the state of some East Asian economy or pointing out one of the few times Tierney has a column that's worth reading. Values aren't exactly my domain, maybe that's why I'd like to offer some perspective.

Ultimately, the social conservative movement has reached its zenith (hopefully). The question is how. I hypothesize that average Americans don't entirely understand the difference between a cultural problem and a regulatory solution. What do I mean by this?

Americans don't like abortion. Do you? It disgusts me. The medical act itself is appalling. But should someone in Washington have the right to decide when a single young woman should start her family and under what conditions she should raise a child? Liberals believe that should be left to the mother to decide, not some law. Unfortunately, articulating this point is quite difficult. It is especially difficult when there are Dobson-like groups on our side of the cultural divide that seem to think abortion is the fourth natural right.

Ultimately, when faced with the choice between solving a problem as a society or handing it off to our government, we tend to almost always let the government handle it. The only times the libertarians are truly successful is when they are able to solidly articulate their their case. This not only involves good arguments, but ultimately persuasive compassion. And, to be frank, it is quite hard--as it should be--to compassionately defend something like abortion.

Thus you enter a situation in which social conservatives can pin liberals as for the right of abortion and conservatives as against the right of abortion. Rather quickly, the notion of rights gets chopped off. Rather quickly, liberals are for abortion and conservatives are against it. The issue of rights is to be debated by philosophers and academics, not by small town America. That's ultimately where liberals have lost ground. Unfortunately, it is ground we may never be able to take back.

Make no mistake, social conservatives are wildly against things like NAFTA and CAFTA. They hate what Wal-Mart does to their small town atmosphere. They tend to be quite poor, but rural poverty isn't nearly as clear as its inter-city cousin. Welfare isn't as temping to a group of people who pride themselves on their self-sufficiency.

But how do liberals show what values they truly believe in? Howard Dean has been spewing some Bible Verses here and there. But Dean is lost on these people. Ultimately, liberals' primary hope just might be the very pride of Hope. Or, at least, his wife. Hillary has done a superb job positioning herself, and its going to be hard to attack her in the usual ways. Her national defense record is pristine. She stands behind the White House on its Iraq policy--for the most part. It is impossible to question a Senator from New York's commitment to the War on Terror. She's stuck to the Clintonian tried-and-true method for abortion: "Safe, Legal, and Rare".

Republicans will say Hillary is one of the most liberal politicians in the country. And they may just well be right. But she's a Clinton. And last time I checked, when Billy Graham--at his final revival ever--gave praise to Bill and Hillary Clinton, the crowd cheered wildly. He said Bill should become an evangalist and leave Hillary to run the country. The crowd cheered wildly.

Indeed. They cheered wildly.

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