The natural marriage between economic and social conservatives

16 Nov

Good article, something I’ve said less well for a while.  The question of whether anyone cares anymore is another matter.

From Dr. Robert George:

On November 6, Democrats and liberals had a good election night; Republicans and conservatives had a bad one. These things happen. It’s certainly true that the Republican Party and its candidates made some serious mistakes and could have done a number of things better than they did; but it would be tragic—and foolish—for the Party or the conservative movement to abandon its principles. Those principles are true and good. They are the principles on which our nation was founded, and their restoration and defense is vital to its future. Contrary to the claims of the Democratic Party and the cultural-political left, they have not been repudiated by the American people.

Still, all-too-predictably the recriminations have been flying back and forth between different elements in the Republican Party and the conservative movement. Many economic conservatives claim that the Republicans lost the presidential contest and took a drubbing in the battle to win a majority in the United States Senate because of the strong pro-life and pro-marriage stands of the party’s platform and candidates. Their mantra is “time for a truce” (i.e., surrender) on social issues.

Some social conservatives lay blame for the Republican defeat on those whose pro-market and small government convictions and rhetoric allegedly lead working class people and other voters to believe that the party and its candidates are only concerned to protect the economic privileges of the rich and don’t care about ordinary people.

Here’s the summary at the end, but the whole article is worth reading:

Advocates of the market economy, and supporters of marriage and the family, have common opponents in hard-left socialism, the entitlement mentality, and the statist ideologies that provide their intellectual underpinnings. But the marriage of advocates of limited government and economic freedom, on the one hand, and the supporters of marriage and the family, on the other, is not, and must not be regarded as, a mere marriage of convenience.

The reason they have common enemies is that they have common principles: namely, respect for the human person, which grounds our commitment to individual liberty and the right to economic freedom and other essential civil liberties; belief in personal responsibility, which is a pre-condition of the possibility and moral desirability of individual liberty in any domain; recognition of subsidiarity as the basis for effective but truly limited government and for the integrity of the institutions of civil society that mediate between the individual and the centralized power of the state; respect for the rule of law; and recognition of the vital role played by the family and by religious institutions that support the character-forming functions of the family in the flourishing of any decent and dynamic society.

Congressman Paul Ryan has put the matter well:


A “libertarian” who wants limited government should embrace the means to his freedom: thriving mediating institutions that create the moral preconditions for economic markets and choice. A “social issues” conservative with a zeal for righteousness should insist on a free market economy to supply the material needs for families, schools, and churches that inspire moral and spiritual life. In a nutshell, the notion of separating the social from the economic issues is a false choice. They stem from the same root . . . . They complement and complete each other. A prosperous moral community is a prerequisite for a just and ordered society and the idea that either side of this current divide can exist independently is a mirage.


The two greatest institutions ever devised for lifting people out of poverty and enabling them to live in dignity are the market economy and the institution of marriage. These institutions will, in the end, stand or fall together. Contemporary statist ideologues have contempt for both of these institutions, and they fully understand the connection between them. We who believe in the market and in the family should see the connection no less clearly.

Full text

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