No Mere Marriage of Convenience: The Unity of Economic and Social Conservatism

First Things (web exclusive), November 16, 2012.

On November 6, Democrats and liberals had a good election night; Republicans and conservatives had a bad one. These things happen. It’s certainly true that the Republican Party and its candidates made some serious mistakes and could have done a number of things better than they did; but it would be tragic”and foolish”for the Party or the conservative movement to abandon its principles. Those principles are true and good. They are the principles on which our nation was founded, and their restoration and defense is vital to its future. Contrary to the claims of the Democratic Party and the cultural-political left, they have not been repudiated by the American people.

Still, all-too-predictably the recriminations have been flying back and forth between different elements in the Republican Party and the conservative movement. Many economic conservatives claim that the Republicans lost the presidential contest and took a drubbing in the battle to win a majority in the United States Senate because of the strong pro-life and pro-marriage stands of the party’s platform and candidates. Their mantra is “time for a truce” (i.e., surrender) on social issues.

Some social conservatives lay blame for the Republican defeat on those whose pro-market and small government convictions and rhetoric allegedly lead working class people and other voters to believe that the party and its candidates are only concerned to protect the economic privileges of the rich and don’t care about ordinary people….

First Things