Arthur C. Brooks’ new book “The Battle” divides the two main aspects of the “culture war” into new and old, the economic and the social. Brooks seems to prefer that the culture war concentrate on economics and ignore the “old” battle over abortion and so-called homosexual rights.
It’s a continuing curiosity to me that we never hear people in the Democratic Party demanding that their party only focus on economic issues.
The never-ending effort by weak-kneed Republicans and liberal Democrats to get the GOP to forfeit this debate over the social issues isn’t new – but it certainly doesn’t date back to the founding generation. The theme of these few quotes is repeated throughout the historical record of the founding era:
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” ~ George Washington’s Farewell Address
“Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~ John Adams
“Religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness.” ~ Samuel Adams
“Religion is the only solid Base of morals and Morals are the only possible support of free governments” ~ Gouverneur Morris
“The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” ~ Benjamin Rush
Were the founders trying to impose their morality on others? I’ve got some bad news for you if that notion is abhorrent to you: somebody’s morality will prevail – you had better hope it’s one that is conducive to liberty and free markets.
Yes, the founders possessed above average courage. While they were mortals subject to human frailty like the rest of us, they didn’t see what was good for society through the prism of their own moral failings. Let’s be honest – it’s probably right that most people who’d prefer to shy away from the social/moral issues are suffering the timidity that comes from having fallen short of even their own standards.
If a person commits adultery they’re not exactly a good spokesperson for keeping marital vows. Nevertheless, the standard exists and must be honored if the social fabric is to remain strong. If a person hasn’t exercised their own demons and doesn’t feel comfortable speaking about the issues of abortion or so-called “homosexual rights” – they shouldn’t be running for office as a Republican.
The call for the GOP to drop the social issues will always be with us. You can be assured, however, that the radical left will not be asked to do likewise. They are always on the offensive – and we must be as well.
I’ve addressed the connection between the economic and social issues many times – including those found here.
Arthur Brooks closes his book with a chapter titled “The Moral Case for Free Enterprise.” I don’t mean any disrespect for Mr. Brooks, but he’s providing a great example of the feeble thinking by too many on the political right. Mr. Brooks and those who think like him have no problem arguing morality as long as it’s economic.
In his closing paragraph, Brooks hopes that the growing threat of socialism in the country will “clear our thinking enough to bring forth leaders with our principles at heart and ideas to match.” Likewise, I trust that as the radically liberal social agenda bears its negative fruit in our society, more Americans will realize you can’t successfully separate social and economic conservatism.