Where Are Social Conservatives to Go?

The recent defeat in Wisconsin of a conservative state Supreme Court candidate and the warning issued by Governor Walker ought to be a wake-up call to Trump and the RINO leadership in Congress.   Gallup reports that more than one third of Americans are self-defined "social conservatives," a large percentage of the population that is essential for any conservative or Republican electoral victory.  Historically, conservatism has been viewed as a three-legged stool:  social conservatives, fiscal (or economic) conservatives, and national security conservatives. 

In fact, these three groups have little in common except a rejection of leftism.  Leftism, by contrast, because it is a soulless and unthinking brute, can be held together with nothing more than a common lust for power and status.  Contradictions within leftism are therefore as irrelevant as the banner in 1984's Ministry of Truth: "War is peace.  Freedom is slavery.  Ignorance is strength."

Today social conservatives, not pseudo-social conservatives who are really motivated by nothing more than naked self-interest, have nowhere to go in American politics.  The Democratic Party is anathema to social conservatives, and it does nothing to attract these American voters.  The Republican Party establishment cynically uses these social conservatives by speaking one thing and doing another. 

More troubling is the fact that the challenger within the Republican Party for its message is President Trump, who is just as cynical about how he plays to social conservatives and whose life is a horror story to these Americans who form a critical part of the Republican Party base.  The two poles of Republican Party leadership, the president and his friends and the Republicans in Congress and their cronies, are equally noxious to social conservatives.

Both these two groups within the Republican Party power structure have tried to finesse social conservatives into supporting them by appealing to issues like economic growth, immigration enforcement, and the war on Islamic terrorism.  This strategy is unpersuasive, and many social conservatives actually find themselves on the other side of the fence in each of these three areas.

Why should social conservatives who are retired or close to retirement care about economic growth more than the left's promise to protect Social Security, Medicare, and related parts of the federal support for older Americans?  Self-interest, in fact, would lead many of these social conservatives to support the left, even though the long-term consequence for the nation would be bad. 

Remember that Trump and the Republican Establishment are not seeking support on moral grounds.  Indeed, both eschew real morality in place of the faux morality of enlightened self-interest.  By approaching policy this way, voters are invited to vote for whichever party or politician helps them personally the most.  The left is very good at rewarding voter groups who support leftist politics.

Immigration reform is another area in which the Republican bosses base arguments on enlightened self-interest but social conservatives who see America vanishing are likely to look at the character of illegal aliens, who are overwhelmingly Hispanic.  These illegal aliens have historically been more socially conservative than the country club Republicans of the RINO leaders in Congress and President Trump.  True, these would alter the culture of America, but would that necessarily be for the worse to social conservatives?   

The war against Islamic extremism is another example of how social conservatives find all three power bases in Washington – the Democratic Party, the RINO establishment, and President Trump – useless or worse.  Islamic extremism fills the vacuum in Western civilization caused by the steady drift towards godlessness. 

Europe, which has long since abandoned real religious feeling except for a few nations,  finds no means to counter the argument (albeit a perverse argument) by Muslim terrorists for transcendent meaning in life.  These young Muslim men see rampant immorality, religious indifference, and gross materialism infecting the West, and they are right.  The cure they offer is violence and terrorism, which is abominable.

The Christianity of social conservatives, if supported by political parties at least rhetorically and by other means consistent with the Constitution, could answer Muslim extremism with a Gospel of Love and Purpose, but we fight, instead, in a long simmering war of attrition with no guarantee of victory.

Without social conservatives, the Republican Party, the chosen vehicle of both the RINO leadership in Congress and of President Trump, will face calamity in November and perhaps an inevitable decline into a limp second party in an increasingly one-party nation.  These Americans are the key to victory for all conservative policies, but they need real and socially conservative leadership to be their champion.  So far, no such leaders are in sight.

The recent defeat in Wisconsin of a conservative state Supreme Court candidate and the warning issued by Governor Walker ought to be a wake-up call to Trump and the RINO leadership in Congress.   Gallup reports that more than one third of Americans are self-defined "social conservatives," a large percentage of the population that is essential for any conservative or Republican electoral victory.  Historically, conservatism has been viewed as a three-legged stool:  social conservatives, fiscal (or economic) conservatives, and national security conservatives. 

In fact, these three groups have little in common except a rejection of leftism.  Leftism, by contrast, because it is a soulless and unthinking brute, can be held together with nothing more than a common lust for power and status.  Contradictions within leftism are therefore as irrelevant as the banner in 1984's Ministry of Truth: "War is peace.  Freedom is slavery.  Ignorance is strength."

Today social conservatives, not pseudo-social conservatives who are really motivated by nothing more than naked self-interest, have nowhere to go in American politics.  The Democratic Party is anathema to social conservatives, and it does nothing to attract these American voters.  The Republican Party establishment cynically uses these social conservatives by speaking one thing and doing another. 

More troubling is the fact that the challenger within the Republican Party for its message is President Trump, who is just as cynical about how he plays to social conservatives and whose life is a horror story to these Americans who form a critical part of the Republican Party base.  The two poles of Republican Party leadership, the president and his friends and the Republicans in Congress and their cronies, are equally noxious to social conservatives.

Both these two groups within the Republican Party power structure have tried to finesse social conservatives into supporting them by appealing to issues like economic growth, immigration enforcement, and the war on Islamic terrorism.  This strategy is unpersuasive, and many social conservatives actually find themselves on the other side of the fence in each of these three areas.

Why should social conservatives who are retired or close to retirement care about economic growth more than the left's promise to protect Social Security, Medicare, and related parts of the federal support for older Americans?  Self-interest, in fact, would lead many of these social conservatives to support the left, even though the long-term consequence for the nation would be bad. 

Remember that Trump and the Republican Establishment are not seeking support on moral grounds.  Indeed, both eschew real morality in place of the faux morality of enlightened self-interest.  By approaching policy this way, voters are invited to vote for whichever party or politician helps them personally the most.  The left is very good at rewarding voter groups who support leftist politics.

Immigration reform is another area in which the Republican bosses base arguments on enlightened self-interest but social conservatives who see America vanishing are likely to look at the character of illegal aliens, who are overwhelmingly Hispanic.  These illegal aliens have historically been more socially conservative than the country club Republicans of the RINO leaders in Congress and President Trump.  True, these would alter the culture of America, but would that necessarily be for the worse to social conservatives?   

The war against Islamic extremism is another example of how social conservatives find all three power bases in Washington – the Democratic Party, the RINO establishment, and President Trump – useless or worse.  Islamic extremism fills the vacuum in Western civilization caused by the steady drift towards godlessness. 

Europe, which has long since abandoned real religious feeling except for a few nations,  finds no means to counter the argument (albeit a perverse argument) by Muslim terrorists for transcendent meaning in life.  These young Muslim men see rampant immorality, religious indifference, and gross materialism infecting the West, and they are right.  The cure they offer is violence and terrorism, which is abominable.

The Christianity of social conservatives, if supported by political parties at least rhetorically and by other means consistent with the Constitution, could answer Muslim extremism with a Gospel of Love and Purpose, but we fight, instead, in a long simmering war of attrition with no guarantee of victory.

Without social conservatives, the Republican Party, the chosen vehicle of both the RINO leadership in Congress and of President Trump, will face calamity in November and perhaps an inevitable decline into a limp second party in an increasingly one-party nation.  These Americans are the key to victory for all conservative policies, but they need real and socially conservative leadership to be their champion.  So far, no such leaders are in sight.