Bottom line up front, an assessment by your truly, is that if the GOP wants to stay relevant and keep each election cycle from being a near death experience, the party needs to OWN civil liberties. Not pander to them in front of certain audiences, but OWN the issue.
Liberals care little for individual liberty as a rule, but Republicans illustrate the same lack of care for the concept, in practice. Note that I use Republicans rather than Conservatives. I’m still hanging on to the label as a political descriptor of what I believe in, but it’s time may be short. Around a decade ago, I had to leave the GOP and become a card carrying Libertarian, since the combination of fiscal discipline, individual liberty, accountability and responsibility seemed to only be convenient slogans for the Grand Old Party.
Enter the likes of Rick Santorum. I don’t hate Rick…..I’m quite sure that he’s an amiable and sincere guy who respectably has very solid, core beliefs. Where I fear his ascendancy to national office literally just as much as another term of Obama, is his desire to see this nation guided not by reason and freedom, but by the edicts of what can rationally be described as a fairy tale. And with that mindset, comes the obligatory rhetoric that has little to no basis in fact. Whether it’s railing on about the alleged ‘war on religion’ or against the ability for some American citizens to enjoy the same privileges as the majority…..the rhetoric is flailed about with virtually no push back for definition by the media.
That of course, is another staple of the right, the perpetual victimhood by an allegedly liberal media. It’s a sad twist of irony that these people don’t include the cable news outlet with the largest market share in their label of ‘lamestream media’. But I digress.
I cannot reconcile social conservatism with individual liberty. Now ‘secular’ has been turned into a dirty word, but any restriction or regulation on our freedoms that does not have a secular value, is utter incompatible with liberty. Politicians such as Santorum and the slew of Dominionists and Christian Nationalists are quite free to live their own lives by their values…..but they aren’t content with a span of control so limited. They crave power. They crave their worldview to be instituted as law. Santorum derided Obama as pursuing an agenda that was not ‘biblically based’, but secular. He says this as if establishing a code of laws and rights which values the freedom to worship or not to, is a bad thing.
What I really don’t understand, Santorum aside, is why so many theoretically intelligent citizens on the right believe and regurgitate obvious falsehoods in the invented struggle? Why would they on one hand decry government intrusion, yet on the other, advocate for it?
School prayer - I always illicit a definition or some amount of substance for incredibly ignorant rantings such as “our children can’t pray in school”. Children can pray in school as often as they wish, as long as it does not interfere with the learning environment. Fundamentalists do not wish for students to be allowed prayer in school, they want overt and organized recognition of their faith in the public school. Where is the fundamental educational value in this activity?
Same sex marriage – I’m forever told that the extension of this privilege to homosexuals, a privilege enjoyed by their fellow hetero citizens, will damage, harm, delegitimize, cheapen, weaken or somehow destroy my own marriage or those of heteros in general. Excuse me? Nobody else’s relationship or sexuality status has any impact on my marriage. It seems truly telling as to the status of some people’s commitment that they would believe or allow this issue to have an effect on their relationship. If stable family environments are truly beneficial to society, then legitimize the relationship between citizens who are biologically attracted to another consenting adult.
Contraceptives – Yes, I understand that one party in the recent kerfuffle views this as an attack, not on contraceptives, but on the rights of religion. But where in our set of laws and societal norms do we advocate that a business operated by a particular faith, but 1) employing persons of that, other or no faith 2) providing a service not specific to that faith, but of the community….be exempt or allowed to choose which generally applicable laws they wish to adhere to? One may not like the health care reform bill, but it is law. Your choice as a citizen or collection of citizens is to either abide by said law, or work diligently to change it. Make no mistake, the law of unintended consequences can come back and bite the Catholic Church right in the vestments. If laws can be abided by based on a moral belief, then Christians can be denied services and discriminated against, just as they desire to do towards those who are not living in alignment with the bible.
Religious fundamentalists are not going to defect to the Democratic Party.
The GOP can not only afford to, but for its survival, must balance the freedom of religious worship with extending the liberties and privileges to all citizens irrespective of a religious value system. To do anything less is a blight upon their platform of individual liberty and restrained government.