In order for the social conservative movement to survive, and ultimately thrive, there are four things it must do, says Allan Carlson, the John A. Howard Distinguished Fellow for Family and Religious Studies at the International Organization for the Family, based in Rockford, Illinois.
In the iFamNews.com Friday, he asks, "Whither Social Conservatism?" and proposes four things the American social conservative movement must do:
- First, go on the offensive. For decades now, social conservatives have mainly been defending crumbling legal precedents and—more recently—merely seeking religious exemptions from the radical sexual agenda. These are the strategies of losers. For centuries, American social conservatives boldly and successfully worked to write protection and promotion of the natural family and Judeo-Christian sexual ethics into law. They understood these principles to be universal in application, for the good of all, not only for cowering minorities. The current Sexual Left understands this, rejects the liberal concept of “choice” as discredited nonsense, and relentlessly seeks to impose their agenda on everyone. Social conservatives must recover their bearings, and seek to win.
- Second, social conservatives must either take effective control of the Republican Party, or abandon it. For about forty years, Republican leaders have welcomed the votes of “Reagan Democrats” and other pro-family folks, but in every other way have consigned them to insignificance: like idiot children in the Party attic. The GOP’s first loves remain the super rich, the giant corporations, and the national security state, even as the new crop of billionaires, Big Tech, and the intelligence agencies have recently shown every sign of favoring the other Party. GOP tax reforms, for example, routinely focus 90 percent of cuts on the wealthy and the Fortune 500; families and the real middle class receive the crumbs. Libertarians, complete with their libertine social ethics, control the Party’s regulatory agenda. And yet, honest polling data suggests that social conservatives now represent a hefty majority of GOP voters. Going forward, they must claim real party leadership and implement true pro-family and pro-life agendas. Failing this, they should look to forming a new party. As during the 1850s, American life is increasingly polarized: then, over slavery; now, over “family values.” Back then, this allowed the “third party” Republicans to replace the faltering Whigs as a counter to the pro-slavery Democrats. The time for such change may be ripe again.
- Third, build much improved intellectual and policy cadres. While many pro-family organizations remain, most are “ministries” or lobbying groups with minimal intellectual heft. A handful of research centers linked to major universities do good work; but are mostly timid in public advocacy. A new generation of independent think tanks is needed, with fresh imperatives. They most boldly reject feminism, both the “hard” and “soft” versions, and push for cultural and legal recognition of responsible paternal headship of families and the maternal virtues of women. They must reshape the economy to favor strong marriages, large families, and function-rich homes. They must end “the emasculation of men through feminized education and various forms of soma that sap spiritedness (in particular pornography)” [David Azerrad]. And they must recover that sense of adventure that building a Christian family once entailed [e.g., from Charles Peguy: “There is only one adventurer in the world…: the father of a family. Even the most desperate adventurers are nothing compared with him. Everything in the modern world, even and perhaps most of all contempt, is organized against that fool, that impudent, daring fool.”—1909]
- And fourth, build a Socially Conservative Internationale. The World Congress of Families [WCF], launched in 1997, was the first step here. As the Sexual Left sought in the 1990s to secure its control over the United Nations, the European Union, and other transnational bodies, the WCF became a counterforce. It worked to build coalitions of scholars, writers, activists, and politicians who would defend the natural family around the globe. Twelve full Congresses (Prague, Geneva, Mexico City, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Madrid, Sydney, Salt Lake City, Tbilisi, Budapest, Chisinau, and Verona) and another forty or so regional assemblies (ranging from Moscow to Nairobi to Manila) have since been held. These gatherings promote the exchange of ideas, the launch of new initiatives, and a shared confidence and courage. In literally hundreds of reports, articles, and books, the Sexual Left has fulminated in rage over the WCF…. which only testifies to its success. Much more needs to be done. Reliable funding is necessary to counter the many millions of dollars that the George Soros empire has poured into anti-WCF campaigns. While prior Congresses commonly had “youth tracks,” there was far too little follow-up in order to forge a new generation of leaders. Moreover, while a nascent body of pro-family parliamentarians has emerged at WCF gatherings, the staff support necessary for effective continuity has again been inadequate.
Stop whining, social conservatives, he says. Move boldly forward.