How Social Conservatives Get it Wrong

Think all Republicans are religious, intolerant right-wingers? Take another look.


When one identifies oneself as a Republican, assumptions are made.

Hillary Rosen’s comment drew attention to . And with each of the Republican candidates asserting themselves as pro-life — although presumptive nominee Mitt Romney is a former choicer — the ensuing hysteria that Roe v. Wade will be overturned has reached fever pitch.

The unfortunate consequences of the well funded and noisy “religious right” hijacking the Republican party’s traditional values of small government, cautious spending and personal liberty are many. Ask yourselves these questions: will it affect your daily life if your lesbian or gay friends marry? How about if your babysitter begins taking birth control pills before she leaves for college? What if the nice lady three blocks over decides to terminate her pregnancy? And what if a coworker’s mother, dying from cancer and suffering unspeakable indignities, asks for euthanasia? 

Social conservatives believe that the government should take a strong role in determining a society’s moral code, thus increasing the presence of Big Brother in the average citizen’s day to day life. Yet, isn’t a society that guarantees freedom of religion already determining that moral code, without help from our elected officials? And how does that jive with fiscal conservatives who want less interference from our bloated governmental friends? 

As a fiscally conservative voter, I don’t believe that creating expensive, wasteful bureaucracy automatically solves society’s problems. And I definitely don’t want my government weighing in on whether or not I can get an abortion or whether my gay friends can get married.   

High handed moral commentary doesn’t sit well with the electorate at large. Even when the Republicans enjoyed Congressional majority plus Oval Office residency, Roe v. Wade remained intact; the “moral majority” did not succeed.  

I don’t believe that Republican leaders really believe in the pro-life cause. In fact, I think they think it’s a lost cause. They do not take up socially conservative reforms with the zeal of tax reform, government spending or universal health care. 

Nevertheless, many Republicans believe they require social conservatives’ support for electoral success. When they pander to these special interests, they lose what I believe is a growing constituency of voters who support limited government and low taxes but believe that what goes on in America's bedrooms and doctors offices is private. 

It’s time for our Republican leadership to stop pandering to the religious right so we can hear instead about their personal beliefs.  Republicans talk about being pro-life – and they may be, in their own personal decisions — but they’re actually pro-choice.

Exhibit A? None other than Romney, who declared himself pro-choice during a Senate run versus Democrat Ted Kennedy. Even after he decided he was pro-life while running for the governor’s seat years later, he did nothing to overturn Massachusetts’ pro-choice laws. In fact, he forced the state’s Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims. 

Exhibit B is the morning after pill, a topic that social conservatives scramble to address. Scientifically, the pill works before conception occurs, thereby removing the pro-lifer’s “personhood” argument. Even former presidential candidate Ron Paul, a physician by trade who also happens to be pro-life, stated that the morning after pill is nothing more than amped up birth control. And guess who made the morning after pill available over the counter to adults over the age of 18? Everyone’s favorite presidential punching bag, George W. Bush. 

So far — and this is why I think pro-choicers have little to fear — social conservatives have only demonstrated that they believe abortion is wrong. They have not proven to the American people why abortion – or gay marriage, for that matter – should be illegal. And I don’t believe that they will ever be able to win that argument, as evidenced by their abandonment of Roe v. Wade to focus on legislatively establishing a fetus as a person (and thus protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, negating Roe v. Wade). 

What is especially ironic about the conservative religious stranglehold is that socially conservative attitudes limit personal freedoms, a philosophy that Republicans say they hold dear. Extremist rhetoric from both sides forces level-headed voters out of the debate entirely. And it’s these level headed voters that the Republican Party needs most.


First, I believe that most voters – Democrat or Republican — believe that major health decisions should be private. Second, social services are expensive. Given the choice between keeping abortion legal and funding expensive bureaucratic programs, isn’t it wiser to allow personal health freedom while also limiting social spending? Third, legal abortion does not limit the individual’s right to not get an abortion — in other words, you’re still pro-life!

The point is that the Republican Party would be wise to adopt the “big tent” policy as espoused by the Republican Majority for Choice. These GOPers believe social tolerance promotes personal freedom and privacy through education and prevention initiatives. And as we all know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

JM May 02, 2012 at 05:04 PM
"Former Presidential Candidate Ron Paul"? Can you cite the place where you got this from? Otherwise, a good read.
Sean M May 02, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Roe vs. Wade should be overturned. It was an act of judicial activism for the Supreme Court to rule the way it did. There is no right to privacy nor an abortion in the Constitution. By design anything specifically not mentioned in the US Constitution is reverted to the states. Abortion should be one of those issues. The whole point of the Constitution is we have states that are held together by a federal government. These states have different values and priorities. If you do not like the policy of the state, move. That is what the productive class is doing in CT. Overturning Roe does not institute a ban on abortion, but leaves it to the states as it should have been. You flat out misrepresent the birth control issue. Sandra Fluke went to a Catholic university in Georgetown and then demanded the school provide her free contraception despite the fact that Catholics view that as morally unacceptable. The issue is who is responsible for paying for condoms and birth control pills: everyone else or you. I, like the rest of conservatives, do not care if you take birth control pills, but you can pay for it.
Sean M May 02, 2012 at 10:00 PM
As for marriage, you do not understand the real issue. 1. Marriage is a legal recognition not a right. 2. Suppose gays being able to marry is a right, then what to do about other people's rights? Specifically, Catholics view homosexuality as a sin. What should happen? Should gays be allowed to marry in a Catholic Church? If they are, then you take the religious rights of the Catholics away. Should a wedding photographer have to work at a gay wedding? They have a right to work for whom they choose. In CT, you can be sued for this. Where are the rights to private property (including running your business as you see fit, after all it is yours). 3. As we have seen, once you have gay marriage, it is open season for teaching all about it in government schools. What about those Christians who do not want that taught to their kids? Where are there parental rights? GONE. I ask gay marriage activists all the time what rights they do not get if gays cannot marry. They basically are tax oriented. I then propose eliminating the death tax, which is a big one. I also propose only individuals being allowed to buy health insurance so government can get out of social engineering. Their answer? Not acceptable. Gay marriage is all about forcing acceptance of homosexuality on everyone else. This equality argument is there for people who do not understand the issue.
Sean M May 02, 2012 at 10:07 PM
This fiscally conservative voter is just a red herring for your intolerance of social conservatives. To say social conservatives have hijacked the GOP is condescending and shows your contempt for that voting block. Society has an obligation to have a moral code. It is morally wrong to abort a pregnancy. It is taking a human life after 20 weeks. At 18 weeks you can tell the sex of your child. That is a black and white issue. Either someone sees this or does not. As for homosexuality, kids are created by a male and a female. Nature designed us to raise children with a mom and a dad. We started in the 1950s to get away from that with the Great Society. All this did was break up families and help us into the mess we have today. Social liberalism is the cause of most of our financial woes. We have welfare because women are paid via welfare to continually have kids out of wedlock because government will provide for them. You want your taxes and spending decreased, the social issues are where to start. Stop generational welfare. Allow parents to choose where their kids go to school. Stop the government sanctioned undermining of the family. When kids have a solid home environment of a mom and a dad, they are much more likely to succeed. Predictors of poverty include: 1. Out of wedlock birth 2. Having kids before 21 3. Dropping out of high school
MAC May 07, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Mrs. Bigelow, I read your 4/19 piece entitled "Tempest in a Teapot Begins Candidates’...." and agree with pretty much all of it. In it you accurately assessed the phoniness of the "war on women" mantra. I especially appreciate and say amen to your "statements" 1, 6 and 7, the latter two of which are:  "6.  Welfare is a not a reasonable lifestyle choice, and it's sometimes abused.  7.  Set goals and work hard. And if you fail, work harder." With those common sense, "you reap what you sow" perspectives, I am surprised and disappointed that you seemingly fail to see the connection of "social" conservatism with fiscal conservatism. In my view, they are inextricably connected--as the Founders of our nation recognized. Are you unfamiliar with the below John Adams quote?: "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.... Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." More recently, (for those who will proclaim that Adams has no relevance to today) do you disagree with this?: "without God democracy will not and cannot long endure. . . If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under." Pres. Ronald Reagan in Aug. 1984


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