A debate between Republicans and a snide comment from a commentator revealed to me the slope of the downward slide our nation is experiencing. While there's a lot of talk these days about individual liberty and free enterprise, we are deliberately sawing off the third leg of the stool, and it can no longer bear the weight of responsibility and accountability in a free nation.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, whose unusual candor and tight-fisted fiscal management has boosted him to 2012 presidential prospect status, said a few days ago that it's time for conservatives "to call a truce on the so-called social issues." He went on to say, "We're going to just have to agree to get along for a little while" until the pressing fiscal issues our nation faces are on their way to resolution.
Former Arkansas governor and television personality Mike Huckabee, himself a potential contender for the White House in 2012 after his failed but overachieving run in 2008, reacted with disappointment to Governor Daniels' statement:
As I've made clear, I really like Governor Daniels, and I consider him a friend and colleague, but his comments mirror those of the GOP establishment who view values voters dismissively as "single-minded." The fact is that every value voter I know is truly committed to fiscal conservatism, but many fiscal conservatives and libertarians range from disinterest to contempt for social issues.Governor Huckabee went on to illustrate the consequences of poor moral decisions on our economy, public safety and national security, from poverty and crime in the inner cities to corruption and unethical behavior on Wall Street. He emphasized that "MORALITY AND THE ECONOMY are inextricably linked." Bad moral choices have economic consequences that affect everyone's pocketbook.
Apparently morality doesn't rate as far as Dave Weigel is concerned. Mr. Weigel's blog, "Right Now", is the Washington Post's latest half-hearted attempt at placating its dwindling base of conservative readers.
One would think that a conservative blog would be written and moderated by a conservative, right? Instead, they hire a professed libertarian whose posture toward American conservatives is not unlike that of an anthropologist toward a primitive tribe.
His characterization of the disagreement between Governors Daniels and Huckabee was as cynical as it gets:
I think everyone's a winner here—Daniels gets a (probably expected) moment of McCain-like straight talk endearing him to the less-than-socially-conservative press corps, while Huckabee gets to attack what is basically a non-existent threat.Mr. Weigel isn't alone in treating politics like a board game, but I know Governor Daniels from his days as the director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, and I've met Governor Huckabee, read his book From Hope to Higher Ground, and supported his presidential campaign. These are serious and committed men, and their statements are a matter of conviction, not competition.
The last words of Mr. Weigel's statement, however, calling the issues about which Governor Huckabee is concerned "a non-existent threat", were particularly contemptuous. He needs to get out from behind his desk and look around a little more.
I sent my first book, Sellout: Musings from Uncle Tom's Porch, to the publisher this week, and as I read Mr. Weigel's words, I thought back to the moral issues about which I wrote that have hampered the ascendancy of the black community.
The dissolution of the black family, due to government social programs that disincentivized the presence of a man in the house, propelled the out-of wedlock birth rate in the black community from 24% in 1965 to 72% this year. Children born into single-parent homes are much more likely to drop out of school, live in poverty, commit crimes, and wind up in prison. All of these outcomes have economic consequences for everyone.
Abortion has murdered more black people than all other causes of death combined. Black women make up 13% of all females in the United States, but account for 36% of all abortions. Blacks have spent $4 billion to kill their babies, when that money could have been used to start businesses, create wealth and free us from dependence on government social programs. The casual disregard for life represented by abortion carries over into adulthood, where 94% of blacks are murdered by other blacks.
The detritus of the sexual revolution, which devalued men, marriage and parenthood, has left young black men rudderless and resentful. With the concepts of family and marriage being redefined to suit the tastes of a self-indulgent culture, these young people are without fathers to teach them to be men rather than sperm donors.
Black women have sex with these young men, but have been convinced by the culture that they don't need a man to raise a child. Black men use the diminution of sexual mores, and the availability of abortion on demand, to justify indiscriminate, uncommitted sex with multiple partners.
Through it all, the children suffer, the cycle of poverty continues, and they become wards of the state, whether inside or outside of prison.
These are all moral decisions. And all of them have acute fiscal consequences.
Governor Daniels is not alone in his call for social and cultural issues to be placed on the back burner. The GOP has long courted social conservatives because they are allies on fiscal and national security issues, but pays lip service at best to their concerns. The Tea Party movement has treated all but one social issue, gun rights, as if they were radioactive.
Great empires of the past collapsed because they ignored the moral decay in their midst. The great American experiment has endured because we balanced individual liberty and free enterprise with morality and virtue. Self-government isn't possible without morality to temper the sin that is in all of us.
A friend and candidate for U.S. Congress, Charles Lollar has a political parable to describe the three-legged stool of which I spoke at the beginning of this column. Picture two men, both of whom are free. One exercises his individual liberty through hard work and productivity, while the other fritters the time away on leisure activities. Free enterprise is what allows one man to achieve a great harvest, while the other man has little to show for little effort.
When the hard times strike, one man is prepared to weather the storm, while the other is buffeted by it. At this stage, the man who used his individual liberty and practice of free enterprise to create prosperity for himself and his family could easily gloat as his neighbor suffers, and he could even turn his neighbor away if he came begging. After all, both men had the same opportunity to succeed, and one took advantage of it while the other squandered it.
This is where the third leg of the stool comes into play. It is the man of the successful harvest inviting in his neighbor, and not only feeding him, but offering his assistance by preparing him for the next producing season.
Individual liberty, free enterprise, and morality and virtue are the traits that define the American culture. To the extent we remove the controversial but necessary debate on issues of morality from the public square, and focus solely on dollars and bullets, we are out of balance and in danger of tipping over.
Ron Miller, of Huntingtown, is a military veteran, conservative writer and activist, communications director for the Calvert County Republican Party, and executive director of Regular Folks United, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Ron is a regular contributor to RegularFolksUnited.com, American Thinker, and RedCounty.com. You can also follow Ron on his website TeamRonMiller.com, as well as Twitter and Facebook.