Est. May 2008

29 November, 2012

Privatizing Social Issues

Let’s start off with a disclaimer: I have a great deal of respect for Roger Simon and his writings.

That said, his latest column at PJ Media left me gnawing the inside of my cheek in disagreement.


In a nutshell, Mr. Simon calls for taking two specific social issues – abortion and same-sex marriage – out of the hands of government and putting them back into the hands of the individual:
My point is: The social issues, whatever your position, are best dealt with outside the governmental realm.
Hey, I’m all for that, but I understand, as Mr. Simon does, that:
I realize this is an unattainable goal and that government will always intrude in our private lives to some degree, but we must fight against it as much as possible for several reasons.
Since it’s an ‘unattainable goal’, it seems to me as if fighting against it is rather like a snipe-hunt – you know you’re gonna come home empty-handed, but go on out there and give it a try.

And I can see why it would be ‘unattainable’: Democrats (and not a few Republicans) wouldn’t give up trying to control the lives of their subjects constituents without a fight to the death.

But as unattainable as it may be, Mr. Simon offers some suggestions as to how to ‘obtain’ it (I guess – that’s what I got as a take-home message, anyway).  Here’s the first suggestion:
To begin with, social conservatives will be vastly more successful at having their views accepted if they make their case extrinsic of government.

Don’t believe me? Well, most of us remember “Mind your own beeswax!” from grammar school. That made an impression for a reason. People resent intrusion in their private lives to the extent that they often will do just the opposite of what was sought or recommended.  Generally, people don’t want anonymous others, folks they barely know, the government most of all, telling them what to do about matters that are extremely personal. They would prefer to hear that from close friends, family, clergy and healthcare professionals they know and respect. Wouldn’t you?
Of course I’d rather hear it from people I know – the problem is, if you’re hearing this kind of stuff from people you know, those folks are preaching to the choir – chances are, your mindset is as near enough equal to theirs to pass a paternity test.  And guess what?  All those folks who voted for Obama?  They’re perfectly happy with government ‘telling them what to do about matters that are extremely personal’; in fact, they’re perfectly happy with government telling everybody else what to do about personal things – they re-elected a guy who’s promised to destroy jobs through regulation and taxation (see his threat against coal-mining and coal-fired power plants), who’s promised to punish the ‘rich’ by not letting them have the Bush tax cuts, and who’s forced individuals and businesses to set aside their deeply-held religious consciences in order to pay for things unconscionable (ObamaCare and abortion coverage).
Here’s another reason why keeping those issues in the governmental realm is pointless. Imagine what would happen if Roe v. Wade actually were overturned. Would abortions end? A few, perhaps, but not many. It would, however, be a boon for the travel industry. (“Botticelli Bye-Bye. Abort Your Baby in Historic Tuscany,” “Montreal D & C: Practiquez votre fran├žais pendant…” Well, you get the idea.) Unsanitary abortion doctors would undoubtedly be back for the poor. I don’t mean to be cynical but that’s the reality, unless you expect human behavior to change after thousands or millions of years – not exactly a conservative position.
Seriously?  This is the kind of argument I’d expect from folks like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi: ‘Well, they’re going to do it anyway, so why try to stop it?’  You start thinking along those lines and you tend to forget that if you want more of a particular type of behavior you make sure to reward it – offering free contraceptives, abortions, and sterilizations is a reward for folks who want to have repercussion-free sex, with all the societal problems that kind of thing has caused.

And then Mr. Simon closes the abortion portion of the program with this:
On the abortion issue, then, the social conservatives can win by losing. In fact, they can win big by appearing to be what people of faith are supposed to be — the good guys.
Scenario: a Democrat and a Republican are both running for office.  A reporter asks their take on abortion.

Democrat: ‘I believe it’s a woman’s right to choose, and when I win I’ll make sure I fight in Congress for that right to choose.’

Republican: ‘It’s not government’s place to make those decisions for people; it’s a private matter.’

The Democrat goes on to enjoy his or her new office in DC because he/she ‘cares about women’; the Republican is last seen pumping his/her own gas, because he/she ‘doesn’t care about women and won’t fight for them in Washington.’

In politics, you don’t win by losing – you lose by losing.

Then Mr. Simon turns to same-sex marriage:
Lobby for all adult couples, no matter the sex, to have one-on-one government civil unions with the same legal protections. Our churches, synagogues, and other similar institutions could perform the marriages, according to the predispositions of those institutions. Some would be same-sex, others not. Individuals would be free to follow and acknowledge whichever of these institutions and ceremonies they wished. Marriage would be outside the government.
Okay, maybe I missed something, but if the government gives one-on-one government civil unions, marriage isn’t exactly outside of government, is it? 

Well, okay, perhaps by name.

Second problem: when one of the ‘institutions’ Mr. Simon mentions – churches, synagogues, and other similar’ ones – decides not to ‘marry’ or acknowledge the same-sex civil union and that couple howls ‘discrimination’ or ‘homophobia’.  And don’t say that would never happen, because it’s already occurred with photographers, bakers, and owner/landlords of private halls.

I’ve written before about social issues being the bedrock on which fiscal issues rests – fix the mindset of society and fixing the money problems gets easier.  Dumping social issues – or relegating them to the privacy of the home (much like the difference between freedom of ‘religion’ and freedom of ‘worship’) – is (IMO) putting the GOP on the fast track to the ash-heap of history: not only will pushing social issues to the back burner make it impossible to fix fiscal – and other – issues, it will also alienate the social conservatives, who may very well cast their votes for ‘anybody but the GOP candidate’, thus quite possibly burying the Grand Old Party and ushering in something you might call the Conservative Party – not as a third party, but as a replacement.

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