Libertarian Folly: Why Everybody is a Social-issues Voter
There is this notion, one we hear more and more, that the Republican Party has to shed the social issues to seize the future. “Social issues are not the business of government!” says thoroughly modern millennial. It’s a seductive cry, one repeated this past Tuesday in an article about how some young libertarians dubbed the “Liberty Kids” are taking over the moribund Los Angeles GOP. Oh, wouldn’t the political landscape be simple if we could just boil things down to fiscal responsibility? But life is seldom simple.
If you would claim to be purely fiscal, or assert that “social issues” should never be government’s domain, I’d ask a simple question: would you have no problem with a movement to legalize pedophilia?
Some responses here won’t go beyond eye-rolling and scoffing. Others will verbalize their incredulity and say that such a movement would never be taken seriously. This is not an answer but a dodge. First, the way to determine if one’s principles are sound is by seeing if they can be consistently applied. For instance, if someone claims he never judges others, it’s legitimate to ask whether he remains uncritical even of Nazis and KKK members; that puts the lie to his self-image. And any thinking person lives an examined life and tries to hone his principles.
Second, there is no never-land in reality. People in the ’50s would have said that homosexuality will “never” be accepted in the U.S. And Bill O’Reilly said as recently as 15 or 16 years ago that faux marriage (I don’t use the term “gay marriage”) would “never” be accepted in America. Sometimes “never” lasts only a decade or two.
Third, my question is no longer just theoretical. As I predicted years ago and wrote about here, there now is a movement afoot -- one that has received “unbiased” mainstream-media news coverage -- to legitimize pedophilia. Moreover, it has co-opted the language of the homosexual lobby, with doctors suggesting that pedophiles are “born that way” and have a “deep-rooted predisposition that does not change,” a film reviewer characterizing pedophilia as “the love that dare not speak its name” and activists saying that lust for children is “normative” and those acting on it are unjustly “demonized.” Why, one Los Angeles Times article quoted a featured pedophile as saying, “These people felt they could snuff out the desire, or shame me into denying it existed. But it’s as intrinsic as the next person’s heterosexuality.” My, where have we heard that before?
So, modern millie, as we venture further down the rabbit hole, know that one day you may be among “these people,” these intolerant folks who just can’t understand why “social issues” should be kept out of politics and government out of the bedroom.
Of course, I’m sure that many libertarians have no problem with legalized bestiality; hey, my goat, my choice, right? And there may even be a rare few who would shrug off pedophilia, saying that, well, if a child agrees, who am I to get in the way of a consensual relationship? But these issues, as revolting and emotionally charged as they are, are just examples. There are a multitude of others, and this becomes clear if we delve a bit more deeply.
After all, what are “social issues”? What are we actually talking about? We’re speaking of moral issues, which, again, thoroughly modern millie would say should be kept out of politics. But this is impossible. For the truth is that every just law is an imposition of morality or a corollary thereof -- every one.
Eyes may be rolling again, but let’s analyze it logically. By definition a law is a removal of a freedom, stating that there is something we must or must not do. Now, stripping freedom away is no small matter. Why would we do it? Unless we’re sociopathic and like Aleister Crowley believe “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” and are willing to impose our will simply because it feels right, there could be only one reason: we see the need to enforce an element of a conception of right and wrong. We prohibit an act because we believe it’s wrong or mandate something because we believe it’s a moral imperative. This is indisputable. After all, would you forcibly prevent someone from doing something that wasn’t wrong? Would you force someone to do something that wasn’t a moral imperative? That would be truly outrageous -- genuine tyranny.
There are laws where this is obvious and unquestioned, such as the prohibition against murder. But the same holds true even when the connection to morality isn’t so obvious, such as with speed laws: they’re justified by the idea that it is wrong to endanger others.
Then there is legislation such as ObamaCare. The wind beneath its wings was the idea that it was wrong to leave people without medical care; this case was consistently made, and, were it not for this belief, the bill could never have gotten off the ground. Or consider the contraception mandate and the supposed “war on women”: the issue would have been moot if we believed there was nothing wrong with waging a war on women.
Some will now protest, saying that there is nothing moral about ObamaCare and the contraception mandate. I agree, but this just proves my point. Note that my initial assertion was not that every law is the imposition of morality -- it was that every just law is so. Some legislation is based on a mistaken conception of right and wrong, in which case it is merely the imposition of values, which are not good by definition (Mother Teresa had values, but so did Hitler). It is only when the law has a basis in morality, in Moral Truth, which is objective, that it can be just. Hence the inextricable link between law and morality. For a law that isn’t the imposition of morality is one of two other things: the legislation of nonsense or, worse still, the imposition of immorality.
So this is the fatal flaw behind the attack on social conservatives. It would be one thing if the only case made were that their conception of morality was flawed; instead, as with those who sloppily bemoan all “judgment,” they’re attacked with a flawed argument, the notion that their voices should be ignored because they would “impose morality.” But what we call “social conservatives” aren’t distinguished by concern for social issues; the only difference between them and you, modern millie, is that they care about the social issues that society, often tendentiously, currently defines as social issues and which we happen to be fighting about at the moment. This is seldom realized because most people are creatures of the moment. But rest assured that, one day, the moment and “never” will meet. And then you very well may look in the mirror and recognize that most unfashionable of things: a social-issues voter.