Social conservatism, as we know it, is dead.
As a self-labeled conservative, it pains me to say this, but the truth is that the days of using religion to justify public policy are over, and the election last week signified the end.
Not only was President Barack Obama, the first president in American history to support gay marriage, re-elected, but three states passed laws allowing for civil unions as well (bringing the total to nine states). Wisconsin elected the first openly gay senator, and both Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana.
These issues were passed, for the first time in years, by groups other than white males: women and minorities. While white men voted squarely in the Romney camp and against the progressive social agenda, this proved to be insufficient. The past 50 years have been a slow, steady march towards this point, and it’s not over yet.
The Republican Party has stood against these changes for decades, relying on the fact that the majority of Americans were influenced in one form or another by the Christian church, and thus cashing in for votes. America, though, is no longer a Christian nation, and in order for conservatism and the GOP to survive, something must change.
The post-modern era has destroyed the church throughout the first world. The number of Christians is dwindling in Europe and North America. Catholics and Protestants alike are scrambling to maintain what was for centuries a guaranteed percentage of the population.
But the things is, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is liberty.
Politics is a two-edged sword. If you use it to press your values onto others, they’re going to press their values onto you. Right now we are reaping all of the rotten fruits of the Bush administration, and we shall continue to do so until we stand up and say that not only what Obama is doing is wrong, but that what Bush did was wrong, too.
The salvation of conservatism and the GOP is going to be the idea that the federal government should not involve itself in either social or economic issues, which, ironically, was what conservatives primarily believed in for the first hundred years of this country’s history.
But pure libertarianism is also not the solution. A completely free market, free morality society will not align itself so that everyone lives in some sort of utopia. It is local government and community that must deal with these issues.
Romney lost because he was unable, despite his best efforts, to distance himself from the social issues of the election and the ability of the Obama campaign to associate him with the social conservatism of the Republican Party. Senate candidates suffered defeat because they made the mistake of giving their opinion on sexual issues.
The GOP must change as our culture changes. Restricting sexuality can no longer be a part of the conservative agenda. Women must be brought into the “boys club” of the GOP, and the stance on immigration policy needs to be altered drastically to appeal to immigrants. None of these things need to impinge on people’s rights as long as the government remains separate from them.
What will defend against the onslaught of progressivism then? Reality. Progressivism, either social or economic, doesn’t work. The traditional family is still the best unit for creating functional members of society. Recreational drugs will now be brought under the regulation of the market, destroying many of the dangerous black market elements.
And economics? Socialism has been failing for well over a hundred years; the time is here when people have begun to stand against it.
We’re not dead yet.