Last week, I read an article written by Michelle Fields, who used to be with the Daily Caller. She is a libertarian, for those who are unfamiliar, and like most libertarians, she makes the case that social conservatism will die when the older generation dies. Now, as a social conservative who actually thinks that we should try to find common ground with libertarians, this commentary makes my blood boil.
After reflecting on the myriad of reasons why my blood boils at this premise, I realize my strongest objection is that libertarians are trying to hijack the Republican Party and make it their own. It wasn’t enough that liberals are trying to remake the GOP, now we also have libertarians trying to do the same. For years, we have known that liberals pretend to be conservative in order to get elected. But now, we are seeing the same phenomenon from libertarians. They are not content to run as members of the Libertarian Party (think Ron Paul and Gary Johnson) because they know they can’t win telling us they are libertarians. So they have to call themselves conservatives in order to gain popularity. In a sense, they are pulling many of the same ruses that liberals pull.
Michelle makes the point that social conservatism is not popular among the young, which while true, does not make them right. Social conservatism is as much a part of conservatism as is economic conservatism and national security conservatism. Social conservatism may not be cool and hip with people in my generation, but it is key to holding together a free society. Redefining marriage may sound cool and progressive, but what benefit does society gain by tinkering with the institution that is its very building block?
Many of these same young people, who are trying to mount a libertarian takeover of the GOP, voted for Obama. They might be in favor of social progressivism, but that does not mean we have an obligation to roll over for them. If they are true libertarians, they should understand that social conservatives and libertarians shouldn’t be at odds. Libertarians should understand that most of the intrusions of the state that they oppose have happened over the last half century, specifically because of the breakdown of marriage, the legalization of abortion, the assault on faith in the public square, and the general idea that people should do whatever it is that they feel like doing.
I stand with Tea Party stalwart, Jim DeMint, who said, “Well, you can’t be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative. large part of the expansive government is to make up for a dysfunctional society because our culture’s falling apart. The family’s falling apart.” When the traditional definition of marriage and the family collapses, the state intercedes and must grow and expand. This was part of Rick Santorum’s message during the primaries: government should help keep families strong because when the family is strong, when traditional moral values are upheld, the government remains limited. It’s when we start to accept the progressive view of social issues, then that gives government license to expand because it then tries to make up for the collapse.
Conservatives and libertarians should be allies, not foes. We have many common goals in the quest to limit the government and expand individual liberty and freedom, but the debate must be honest. If as a libertarian you want conservatives to adopt your ideas, explain why. But don’t, as a libertarian, run as a conservative and then tell us that conservatism is dying. If that is your strategy, you may as well be a progressive.