Bonds, not divisions

Michael Medved writes about Paul Krugman’s gleeful belief that the Foley affair (or, poor Foley, non-affair), will cause the tenous relationship between economic Republicans and religious Republicans to implode. Not so fast, says Medved. Here’s just a little of his analysis and I, as a non-religious Republican, completely agree:

For instance, religious conservatives support low taxes not as a sop to their economic conservative allies, but because they believe that families will make better decisions on spending their own money than bureaucrats. Inheritance taxes are at least as offensive to people of faith as they are to small government reformers since these “death taxes” assault one of the ultimate family values: the ability to pass on to the next generation the fruits of a lifetime of hard work. By the same token, economic Republicans who want to limit governmental bureaucracy and spending will support the home-schooling practiced by many of their Christian colleagues not as some concession to Fundamentalists, but because they share the core principle that individual Americans should depend less on government and more on themselves.

Even some issues that are supposed to drive a wedge between the “preachers” and “plutocrats” can, if properly understood, bring the two factions together. Consider the debate over federal funding for embryonic stem cell research: where even the most secular, libertarian-tinged, economic conservatives will rightly question the necessity of government financing for scientific work that remains profoundly controversial. Leaders of the religious right don’t seek a government ban on this area of scientific investigation so long as it’s privately funded—they only want to avoid tax-payer support and the societal endorsement that comes with it. By the same token, opposition to same sex marriage doesn’t involve any effort to block or penalize private gay relationships, but merely a desire to stop the governmental sanction and support involved in state backed matrimony. During all debates on the National Endowment of the Arts and the condemnations of their generous grants to sacrilegious expression, people of faith didn’t clamor for censorship— they wanted only to avoid government sponsorship. If an artist chose to display a crucifix in urine in his own garage, not even the most outspoken religious conservative would have demanded that the police invade his premises to halt the blasphemy.

In all these areas, the libertarian and faith-based impulses can and do reach similar conclusions: hoping to keep government disentangled from ongoing efforts to challenge age-old religious values, and striving to use all available means to shore up societal support for the traditional family.

Incidentally, I also think all stripes of Republicans understand what Democrats don’t:  there is an external threat facing the West today and, as Ben Franklin said when agreeing with a comment that it was was time for patriots to hang together:  “Yes, or assuredly we will all hang separately.”