| [Yes - I am full of ideas on how we can 'move forward!']
Much of the Republican world is stuck on the question of the value of "the social issues" in the party. But, let's face it: what people mean these days is really just abortion and gay marriage. (No one seems to fight over prayer in school or gun control anymore.) You could argue that how secular we should be - broadly - is an issue. Maybe.
But for my fellow social conservatives, I think we need to decide what we want our Republican party to do for social conservation. Do we continue the "culture war" - as we used to call it? Is there a way out of the keep-or-reject social conservatism?
I think there is. I think there is a way to be socially conservative, but win over a majority of voters - even here. The key is not to look at what the culture war has been about for the past 30 years, but to look back from the future, from an America that declined and failed. When someone is asked, in 2030, what happened to our culture, what will they say?
Maybe they would say....
- They consumed too much of everything: energy, water, food, drink, drugs, housing, and unnecessary crap from retail stores
- They departed from their traditional moral warnings against debt and everyone took on huge debt that eventually crushed individuals and governments
- They abandoned real capitalism for the welfare state, crushing growth and human initiative
- They lost their great work ethic, leaving fewer and fewer people working, more and more on government assistance, and unable to compete with the rest of the world
- They lost their religion, one of the great mitigating institutions that anchor and improve citizenship
- They forgot about the importance of protecting the rights of the individual man - to his own private business, to his own beliefs, to his own choices, and his own self-mastery. Individuals lost their initiative in a fog of other organizations and classifications and government guarantees, and this harmed cultural and economic innovation
Personally, I think these problems are more likely to ruin our future than abortion or gay marriage, don't you think? If you agree, then maybe we should adopt these battles in a new culture war, proclaiming that the Republican party is a party of:
1. Capitalism! This is the greatest force for human achievement and dignity in the history of the world. It is under siege, but we will stand up for it.
2. Work! We are the party that believes in working, not being on government assistance, not taking the easy road, not entitlement.
3. Thrift! We believe in spending money wisely and getting out of debt. Thomas Jefferson once said, "Stay out of lender's books." Staying out of debt was, for a long time a great American principle. We shall make it so again - for individuals and government.
4. Moderation! This is a nation that is consuming itself to death. We believe in moderation in eating, drinking, drugs, goods, and energy. The good life is not about more, more, and more. America was never like that until recently. For the sake of our public health and the environment, we will learn to know when to say when.
5. Religion! Religion is a cornerstone of Western civilization and a key part of why American society has worked so well. Unfortunately, we are losing our religion, and more importantly, we, and our government are losing respect for it. We believe that all religions - and even non-religious belief systems - should be in the public square and respected by the government.
6. Individual rights! We believe that the freedom, choices, earnings, and privacy of individuals must be respected and honored. Individuals do not have to join or align themselves with groups to have rights and privileges. The government should always start with the principle of leaving individuals alone and respecting their choices and their right to make mistakes.
I could spend time showing how these principles affect all kinds of public policy, and how these battles are clearly being lost, but this is all I want to say for now. I think fighting a culture war over these principles - these socially conservative principles - will do much more to save America than the culture war we are fighting now.
And I think a whole lot of other people would join us in this one. :-)