Newsweek interviews dear Andrew Ian Dodge on the battle between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives to set the message of the Tea Party and control its message, money and power. The Republicans who just swept into state and federal offices ran on fiscal conservatism and the economy. I am shocked that social conservatives now are trying to force them to make social issues their priority instead of doing the work they promised to do to create jobs and improve the economy.
However, I suspect if I were a better student of American elections, I would find that this isn’t the first time social conservatives have gotten elected by posing as fiscal conservatives and then indefinitely postponed doing anything remotely connected to fiscal conservatism while putting their social agenda first and foremost at every opportunity. I intend to raise my voice along with Andrew’s to ensure that this time they will keep the promises that got them elected and that the fiscal conservative agenda will be the one that that has the priority.
H/T Hot Air Headlines.
Update, 12/3/2010, Fri.: Dan Riehl takes Karl Rove to the woodshed on compassionate conservatism — which I gather is the preferred term for social conservatism when it is combined with fiscal liberalism — and the battle for the soul of conservatism. Read the whole thing because I left out some good parts:
Bush’s so-called compassionate conservatism was pure GOP establishment political bullshit. America is and will continue to be paying the price for it in increased debt, taxes and regulation for years.
To the extent a genuine sense of individual American independence and liberty is allowed to continue to be compromised by a GOP establishment more interested in political power and control, as opposed to a serious appreciation for individual liberty, American conservatism will continue to suffer, if not one day disappear.
We are facing some hard truths in America’s ongoing history. I get that. The genuine American truth that needs to be conveyed, in fact, trumpeted, in this difficult time, is that, government can not do everything for you. In fact, there is very little that it has proved itself capable of doing efficiently, let alone well.
The more I hear from Karl Rove, the more I think about the potential, if not genuine need, for a disastrous split on the Right, leading to a third party move in 2012. If the GOP wants to go down the road to hell and statism with the Democrats, fine, let them. But they have no right to expect principled conservatives to follow them to their own end. I’d rather conservatism wither and die on the vine alone while standing for something more than the latest gee whiz slogan from just another GOP political hack like Karl Rove.
I think we have the potential for a split on the Right if social conservative leaders persist in trying to hijack the energy, money, power, and enthusiasm that fiscal conservatism has won for the conservative movement since 2008, when Obama began minting brand new fiscal conservatives in round-the-clock shifts. I don’t think it is inevitable, but when the Right is dominated by people who are offering a supremely intrusive churchism as the alternative to statism, and if they can only be satisfied by gaining supreme government power rather than the achievement of the stable and prosperous social order they profess to want, then, yes, it is time for conservatism to re-define and re-create itself.