Dawn Wildman, one of the lionesses of the SoCal tea party movement passed along this to us. It would appear that a group of rich and influential RINOs within the California Republican Party (CRP) are moving to either abandon or significantly weaken "divisive" conservative postions on a few key social issues such as gay marriage, abortion and illegal immigration in order to "focus on fiscal issues".
Now, we weren't aware that "tabling" or "back-burnering" social issues until we make some key gains in the fiscal arena meant chucking them all out with the baby and bath water. Strange, we know.
Not only is this a complete sell-out (if they were to do this and they were truly serious about fiscal issues, why wouldn't they make life easier for themselves and just up and join the Libertarian party?) this is also a ploy to drive a wedge into the tea party, many of whose members don't give a hoot about the issues mentioned above or perhaps have quite different stances on these issues as would a social conservative.
We're re-running something we posted back in December of last year in the wake of the mid-term ass-kicking when the whole social issues dust-up within the tea party first reared up. We hope it transmitted the conviction that beating government control and influence back into the box has its own positive effects on social issues.
Our first thoughts on "the debate" can be found here.
We think it's important to remember that the tea party did not form over social issues. Rick Santelli was not ranting about abortion on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on February of '09 (we say this as strong pro-life types) which proved to be the flashpoint for the tea party movement.
Leslie at Temple of Mut has a great roundup of news and views (particularly from the SLOBS - San Diego Local Order of Bloggers) in her post So a Catholic Democrat, debauched libertarian, and Randian objectivist go to a gay bar… which is a brilliant title for conveying the big tent spirit of the tea party (and don't forget about the sage brush conservative Protestant and the recovering libertarian men's group leader that came stumbling in later).
No, the tea party is not abandoning social issues, per se, because it never was really about social issues in the first place. But the beauty of this is that by pursuing and achieving tea party objectives of fiscal discipline and checking the growth and influence of government, it will result in positive ends on many social fronts.
Part of the problem with picking up the mantle for any particular social cause is that the tea party is simply not structured to do so. We've got pro-life partiers, we've got pro-choice partiers... we've got pro-gay marriage partiers as well as anti-same sex marriage partners and, well, you get the point. There is simply no governing consensus that can be brokered on many of these issues, so why bother.
There's even debate over the issue of immigration and whether or not that qualifies as a social issue and thus whether or not immigration should be a plank, as it were, in the tea party platform. It's really a moot point. If the tea party is focused on demanding that the federal government be accountable to the Constitution and accountable in enforcing the laws that are on the books, then the tea party is a defacto anti-Amnesty/anti-illegal immigration/pro-legal immigration entity. Problem solved... without ever having fired a shot. (And we're sorry.... the naivete' of the Cato Institute, whom we otherwise greatly admire, is going to have to take a back seat on this one)
We believe that restraining the reach and influence of government has just, moral and righteous outcomes of its own. Hell, the act of restraining government as an existential state of being is just, moral and righteous in its own right.
Simply put, if the government no longer has the ability to subsidize or give cover to bad and/or anti-social behavior then individuals will make the rational decisions to alter their bad behavior. Think nurseries at high schools. Gee, isn't that compassionate? Isn't that forward-thinking and progressive? Sure is. But you are removing disincentives for getting pregnant in the first place.
Here's Paul Ryan speaking back in 2009 at the Hudson Institute:
A “libertarian” who wants limited government should embrace the means to his freedom: thriving mediating institutions that create the moral preconditions for economic markets and choice. A “social issues” conservative with a zeal for righteousness should insist on a free market economy to supply the material needs for families, schools, and churches that inspire moral and spiritual life. In a nutshell, the notion of separating the social from the economic issues is a false choice. They stem from the same root.
A little tinny but he makes the point. Beating government back into the box of the Constitution has positive results for everybody under this gloriously big tent.
While others may be dismayed that there is this dissent or divisiveness within the tea party (or overjoyed depending on one's viewpoint), we think it's an entirely positive development because these internal debates force dialog and theoretical exercises which will help shape and, in turn, strengthen the movement as we go forward.
With that in mind, please go on over to fellow SLOB W.C. Varones and Shane Atwell's blog (whom we had some disagreement and which was a catalyst for this blog post. Thanks, Shane!), for their takes on this matter.
An existential state of being? Relax. Crack open a cold one and this guy will explain it all to you.