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Social vs. Fiscal Conservatives – Can They Merge?
Over the last few months, I’ve heard many social conservative pundits concerned the GOP was too heavily focusing on fiscal and economic issues to the detriment of pro-life and social conservative issues. The concerns were not assuaged by Gov. Haley Barbour or Gov. Mitch Daniel’s recent remarks that the only important issues in this election cycle are unemployment, the economy, and other fiscal issues. To spend any time debating social issues this election cycle is to take your eye off the ball according to them and many others on the right.
Several social conservative groups have issued petitions in attempts to remind the Republican establishment that fiscally concerned, conservative voters are also focused on conservative social issues. The American Principles Project, a Washington Advocacy Group in D.C., started the Plank 1 Petition to notify the GOP that “We will not accept a party that cannot see the link between moral values, fiscal conservatism, and a strong national defense. To abandon one will threaten the well-being of the others.”
The Susan B. Anthony List, dedicated to advancing the role of pro-life women in the political process, began Life Speaking Out to encourage Republican party leaders to make defending the unborn and their mothers a true legislative priority in the next Congress.
There are some who sincerely question if the two groups, fiscal and social conservatives, can be properly merged and represented with equal importance by one party. However, an American Principles Project Policy Director, Jeffrey Bell, writing for The Weekly Standard reminds us that the marriage of the two groups may not be that far fetched a possibility since they are grounded in a shared “affinity for America’s founding values.”
While we await the release of the House GOP’s governing agenda tomorrow, there are hopeful signs that the Republican Party has not thrown out prioritizing social conservatism for the benefit of fiscal conservatism.
Earlier this week, Rep. Paul Ryan R-WI, released an excellent column detailing why “The Cause of Life Can’t be Severed from the Cause of Freedom.” He states, “All conservatives should find it easy to agree that the government must uphold every person’s right to make choices regarding their lives and that every person’s right to live must be secured before he or she can exercise that right of choice.”
In a statement today to The Weekly Standard, Rep. Ryan said, “…it is a false choice to ask which natural right we should discard: ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ is not a menu of options. All planks…are rooted in the same timeless principles, enshrined in our Founding and the cause of our exceptionalism.”
I agree with Rep. Ryan that conservatives are natural optimists and whether we embrace social, fiscal or all conservative principles, our Founding principles unite us as one.