“The Case for Polarized Politics”

29 Feb


An excellent piece here from the Wall Street Journal.  It details a new book out by Jeff Bell called The Case for Polarized Politics: Why America Needs Social Conservatism.  In it he focuses on “the roots of American social conservatism – and why the movement is crucial to building a Republican majority.”

Some key points (emphasis mine):

…social conservatism is both relatively new and uniquely American, and it is a response to aggression, not an initiation of it. The left has had “its center of gravity in social issues” since the French Revolution, he says. “Yes, the left at that time, with people like Robespierre, was interested in overthrowing the monarchy and the French aristocracy. But they were even more vehemently in favor of bringing down institutions like the family and organized religion. In that regard, the left has never changed. . . . I think we’ve had a good illustration of it in the last month or so…”

…The roots of social conservatism, he maintains, lie in the American Revolution. “Nature’s God is the only authority cited in the Declaration of Independence. . . . The usual [assumption] is, the U.S. has social conservatism because it’s more religious. . . . My feeling is that the very founding of the country is the natural law, which is God-given, but it isn’t particular to any one religion. . . . If you believe that rights are unalienable and that they come from God, the odds are that you’re a social conservative…”

..The populist nature of social conservatism perplexes liberals, who think less-affluent Americans ought to side with the party of statist economics…

…social conservatism is “aspirational” and “driven by a sense in Middle America that the kind of cultural atmosphere we have, the kind of incentives, the example set by government, is something that has to be pushed back against…”

…But what about voters who don’t make a high priority of social issues, who aren’t unwilling to vote for a social conservative but might be put off by a candidate who is—or is made to appear—a moralistic busybody? “The key thing along that line is the issue of coercion,” Mr. Bell says. “Who is guilty of coercion? I happen to think it’s the left.” Mr. Obama and his supporters are “going to imply that Santorum wants to impose all the tenets of traditional morality on the American population. He doesn’t. He just doesn’t want the opposite imposed on Middle America.”

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