Saturday, 25 October 2014

Scott Brown and the Republican Retreat From Moral Issues

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In the great state of New Hampshire, once the most Republican state in the Northeast and possibly the nation, Democrats have won eight of the last nine elections for governor. And now the "moderates" have conquered the state Republican Party, fair and square via primary election, to nominate candidates for governor and U.S. Senate who are "pro-choice" on abortion. Meanwhile, the GOP candidates for the state's two U.S. House seats are "pro-life" but are very quiet about it. One might search in vain to find mention of it on either of their web sites.

The U.S. Senate race, in particular, is troublesome, as it features incumbent Democrats Jeanne Shaheen against Republican challenger Scott Brown. Brown was the surprise winner in the special election in Massachusetts in 2010 to fill the "Kennedy seat" in the U.S. Senate after the venerable old senator had passed away the previous summer. Then Brown lost to Elizabeth Warren in the next election in 2012. So he transferred his residence to his summer home in New Hampshire, where he was born, and entered the Senate race in the Granite State. Brown is not only a defender of abortion "rights," but has bought television ads in which he affirms his "pro-choice" orientation and states his support for federal funding of Planned Parenthood. This despite the reaffirmation by delegates to party's state convention of the decades-old stand by New Hampshire Republicans of solid pro-life positions.

Many New Hampshire residents, and especially New Hampshire business people, would like elections in the Granite State and elsewhere to be about the fiscal issues of taxing and spending and business regulations, while leaving the social issues to fend for themselves. That's why so many otherwise conservative Republicans are comfortable with GOP candidates who are fiscally conservative, but socially "moderate."

But the various threads that make up the fabric of society are not so easily separated without rending the whole garment. Consider the Constitution of the United States, for example. A government of limited, delegated powers presupposes a free people, and freedom requires a moral people. George Washington warned that civic virtue cannot long survive without religion and morality; and John Adams said the Constitution was meant for a moral and religious people and could serve no other. The Englishman Edmund Burke said that since liberty means basically the freedom to do as we please, we ought therefore, before we congratulate people on their (or our) liberty, inquire what it pleases them (or us) to do. Burke and the American Founders might be quite amazed and alarmed to see what it now pleases us to do in the realm of American politics.

Bearing children out of wedlock, or aborting them as a matter of "choice," are among the freedoms celebrated in America today. There is no shortage of statistics to demonstrate that the best anticrime program is a father in the home or, as it is otherwise called, the two-parent family. The social and economic burden that a nation of fatherless children places on society is considerable. What is often overlooked is the toll the new morality places on liberty.

What has happened to the American concept of liberty and the federal system of constitutional government when a national law for healthcare requires not only the individual mandate, penalizing people for not buying health insurance, but also forces employers to provide, among other things, coverage, free of charge and with no deductible, for contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients? A refusal to do so is called denying women "access to birth control" or, as it is often called, "reproductive freedom." We have gone from viewing the Constitution as our charter of liberty to seeing it as a guarantor of entitlements — from the freedom to do things to the right to have them done for us at the expense of others. How far can this go and how long can it go on before it bankrupts a nation, fiscally and morally?

The "pill" has for over half a century liberated countless women and their male playmates from the bonds of sexual morality, but it has also brought with it all the social plagues that moralists, from Pope Paul VI to the wisest of our grandmothers, warned would follow: sexual infidelity, suspicion between husbands and wives, serial monogamy, teen sexuality, and, contrary to the conventional wisdom, an increase rather than a decrease in unwanted pregnancies and from them, the worst of two worlds — a scandalous level of abortions, estimated at 4,000 a day in the United States, and legions of "unwanted children." Thanks largely to the former, the population of the United States is only sustaining itself because of immigration, both legal and illegal. On both sides of the Atlantic, people of European descent are committing demographic suicide.

What will that do to future markets? To the survival of our civilization? What has happened to American politics when governments decree that a florist, a baker, or a wedding photographer must provide services to a same-sex wedding, when the vendor may find that event morally reprehensible? What is left of constitutional liberty?

So go ahead and promote and celebrate fiscal conservatism. Fight for those lower tax rates and accelerated depreciation allowances, while the social order crumbles around us and, in its place, a new totalitarianism arises. And when New Hampshire politics, and the New Hampshire Republican party in particular, have been remade in the image and likeness of the progressive Republicanism of the "People's Republic of Massachusetts," then we may all say, when it is too late, "Thou hast conquered, O pale (former Massachusetts governor) William Weld, O mealy-mouthed Mitt Romney and slippery Scott Brown, while New Hampshire and the nation grow grey with thy breath."

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