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June 15, 2010
Mitch Daniels Reveals an Inconvenient Truth about the Right
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has disappointed many social and cultural conservatives with his call for a "truce on the so-called [sic] social issues. We're going to just have to agree to get along for a little while," until the economic issues are resolved, Daniels told the Weekly Standard's Andrew Ferguson.
But as the American Spectator's Joseph Lawler has observed, it's doubtful that Daniels' truce would change anything. After all, Lawler rightly asks:
"What typical Republican policies would he [Daniels] have to suspend and they [social and cultural conservatives] have to sacrifice? It's not clear to me that it would be anything more than simply the usual social conservative rhetoric..."
Lawler doesn't think this is a problem. I do.
That's because, unlike Lawler apparently, I am not willing to join a conservative movement that has retreated from the culture wars and surrendered to the left in key cultural battles like so-called gay rights, "affirmative action," "diversity," speech codes, and "multiculturalism."
Sure, like Lawler I have a modern-day sensibility. I am happily single and live and work in an affluent and diverse urban village in the Washington, D.C. area. I have friends and colleagues who happen to be black, gay, Hispanic, and Asian; and I really don't think anything of it.
In short, although culturally conservative, I am, I believe, thoroughly modern and socially progressive.
Nonetheless, I believe in cultural and educational standards, the rights of religious believers, and equal rights, not special rights. Consequently, I am adamantly opposed to "affirmative action" (read: reverse discrimination) and to so-called gay rights.
"Affirmative action" and "gay rights" are unjust in my view because they give special rights and privileges to people based on their race and sexual status, and innocent Americans get wronged -- that is, discriminated against -- as a result.
Unfortunately, Lawler is right about one thing: Daniels' "truce" in the culture wars is more a recognition of reality than a call for action. The right, after all, long ago abandoned the cultural playing field to the left. Thus, conservatives seldom even give lip service anymore to cultural issues like "affirmative action" and "gay rights."
In fact, many conservatives -- especially younger, Gen Y conservatives -- go out of their way to flaunt their liberal credentials on these and other cultural issues so as to gain street cred and social acceptance. The Tea Party movement, moreover, seems to view cultural issues as political baggage that best be discarded.
This is one big reason -- the other is defense and foreign policy issues, where Daniels again inadvertently revealed an inconvenient truth about the right -- that I am not particularly enamored of the modern-day conservative movement: for too many on the right, politics begins and ends with economics; and cultural conservatives and defense hawks need not apply.
So don't be angry with Mitch Daniels He simply said aloud what's become increasingly apparent for some time, which is: on some of the most important cultural and military issues of our time, the right has lost its way and has ceased even to be conservative.
John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. You can follow him on Twitter: @JohnRGuardiano