Losing the War

David Brooks wrote a very interesting piece in the NY Times recently, that has some context when examining the vote last night in parliament, not to re-open the debate on when a human life begins.

Subsequent to that vote where almost half the Conservative party caucus (and a few very brave Liberal members) voted against the grain and against Stephen Harper’s wishes, if you trolled the comments boards on any of the major newspaper websites, the National Post, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, by and large it was either victorious crowing from the pro-choice crowd, or open weeping from big “C” Conservatives who are paranoid of the party being hijacked by social conservatives at the cost of losing the electorate next go-around.  It’s become dogma that in order to achieve electoral success conservatives need to abandon the war with the left on the cultural front, and stick to the economic issues.

But, we’ve argued before, social conservatism and economic liberty, which is basically what the current brand of conservatism is trying to champion, are two sides of the same coin.  Economic liberty (which is the only true path to prosperity for the maximum number of people) is only truly achieved if you a) get government out of the way and, b) have a population with the right mix of entreprenuerial spirit, work ethic and resolve. 

But if you remove government (or reduce it) you expose the lower tiers of society to some of the harsher realities of life, if you haven’t replaced the protections of government with the protections offered in the past by traditional institutions such as churches, charitable groups and extended families.

And if you concede the moral front to the left, the culture of victimization, entitlement and accomodation will take over, and all the economic liberty in the world will not rescue a society where the population is content to sit around and beggar others.

The irony is that by abandoning the social issues, conservatives open themselves up to criticism such as Linda McCuaig’s (incorrect as it is) argument that  a system of reduced taxes, smaller government, more economic freedoms will only make the strong stronger, the rich richer, since conservatives offer no concrete solutions for rescuing the weak in our society other than making grandiose arguments about a rising tide lifting all boats. 

It’s true, prosperity does filter down, there is no way anyone can argue that living standards for even our poorest members of society are not better than they were 20 or 30 years ago, but when the economic data come out showing the increasing disparity between the “rich” and the working man, when jobs that allowed a simple man or woman to go to work, earn a decent hour of pay and raise a family are going to China and Brazil, it is hard to argue that unfettered capitalism, maximized economic liberty, is good for everyone.

It is good for everyone.  But you need a moral foundation to build on.  So if we abandon that front, we’ve conceded the war.  

So, last night our so called “conservatives” abandoned an opportunity to start marshalling resources and taking back territory on that flank, and instead caved in to the popular dogma that these are battles not worth fighting.  They are very worth fighting.

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