Some Republicans on track to repeat past mistakes: Our social and cultural fabric is unraveling

Writer Robert Patterson has a section titled “The Social-Economic Nexus,” in his article titled “Fiscal Conservatism is Not Enough.” He notes the following (emphasis added).

In [their book] Grand New Party, [Ross] Douthat and [Reihan] Salam make a compelling case, as did George Gilder and Jennifer Roback Morse in their earlier books, that social and moral well-being are more intertwined with economic issues than most Republican and libertarian players are willing to admit. Improving upon Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s remarks about politics and culture, Douthat and Salam claim: “The central American truth is that there’s no way to cleanly separate politics from culture, or to separate either one from economics.

Thoughtful observers of America are increasingly describing the existence of “working-class insecurity.” What are its roots? Evidently, instead of abortion and marriage law being merely opportunistic wedge issues, they are substantive political questions at the root of many American social maladies.

[These issues are] the root of working-class insecurity. Safe streets, successful marriages, cultural solidarity, and vibrant religious and civic institutions make working-class Americans more likely to be wealthy, healthy, and upwardly mobile. Public disorder, family disintegration, cultural fragmentation, on the other hand, breed downward mobility and financial strain-which in turn breeds further social dislocation, in a vicious cycle that threatens to transform a working class into an underclass.

Douthat and Salam echo Peggy Noonan’s observation that ‘so many Americans right now fear they are losing their country, that the old America is slipping away and being replaced by something worse, something formless and hollowed out.’

Patterson also writes that the basic argument of authors Douthat and Salam is, “It’s the culture, stupid.”

Even before the meltdown of 2008, the economy that Ronald Reagan inspired was never as great as its cheerleaders claim, especially when compared to the achievements of the 1950s and the 1960s.

One more passage from Robert Patterson’s great article is worth noting. Citing the moral question of slavery that President Abraham Lincoln faced, Patterson speculates that if he were alive today, “Lincoln would not be intimidated by ‘divisive’ social issues'” (emphasis added):

Nor would he listen to those seeking to narrow the party’s agenda to ‘fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets’ or advance a ‘federalist’ solution to abortion rights or marriage law. He might even suggest that influential voices that think the party can be fiscally conservative but socially neutral are operating on the wrong principles. The sixteenth president would surely want to see the GOP offer moral leadership for a country that faces a crisis almost as serious as what it faced in 1860.

Last week Mike Pence referred to the “glamour and the appeal of the new American left” that the Obama campaign created during the 2008 campaign. Well, the bloom is off that rose for sure, but it’s now descended upon a shallow libertarian movement that would have us believe we can succeed by ignoring social issues. Here’s Pence:

We must not remain silent when great moral battles are being waged. Those who would have us ignore the battle being fought over life, marriage and religious liberty, have forgotten the lessons of history. As in the days of a House divided, America’s darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles.

Pence wasn’t the only speaker at the Value Voters Summit to recognize that “our social and cultural fabric is unraveling.”

Here’s Mike Huckabee:

There are a lot of people who say this is not a year when we should be talking about social issues, values issues. Many of our economic issues are the result of the breakdown of character and integrity.

Here’s Sen. Jim DeMint:

You can’t be a real fiscal conservative if you do not understand the value of a culture that’s based on values.

Pence, Huckabee, and DeMint are helping raise the standard – and thank God for them.