U.S. Intellectual History Blog

God’s Own Party


Relevant to our earlier discussion about the Tea Party and social conservatives, I just came across a new book: Daniel Williams, God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right (OUP, 2010). The book has already been initially reviewed here and here. Williams also published an Op-Ed at politico.com on the connection of the Tea Party to social conservatism. A taste:

Christine O’Donnell’s victory in Delaware’s Republican Senate primary was the latest confirmation that a conservative GOP candidate can win by combining a religiously inspired social conservatism with an anti-government, libertarian message.

O’Donnell, a conservative Roman Catholic and former abstinence counselor, advocates the use of federal power to restrict abortion and pornography. But she calls for limiting the role of government in many other areas — including gun control and federal social spending.

Why is this blend of moral regulation and curbs on social welfare now a winner for Republicans? Why are social conservatives who urge government regulation in matters of sex so strongly opposed to similar intervention in the economy?

6 Thoughts on this Post

  1. I like to refer to conservatives as “revisionist historians.” They adore revising anything and everything that doesn’t coincide with thief values. For one, they love to revise sections of the bible and “conveniently” censor some parts while emphasizing others to push thief political agenda. To widen my perspective, they also use this approach on the government. They want to use the government to control the lives of others, while in the same breath they condemn thr government for trying to control the lived of others (I.e. Healthcare). It’s all very bizarre. Do they actually stand on any firm platforms?

  2. CJ – I agree, I have discussed this with some of my colleagues and students. How can a group claim in one breath that they want less government and less intervention and in the next breath demand legislation against selling birth control to single women, banning gay marriage, and banning abortion. They don’t want to pay taxes but they complain when government does not respond to them. I am working on an article trying to make sense of it all.

  3. I’d be wary of the charge of hypocrisy. Liberals want government intervention in economic affairs but they want government to stay out of private lives. In other words, like conservatives they arrive at different conclusions about government intervention depending on the issue. The difference between liberals and social conservatives is that they want government to intervene in or to keep out of the exact opposite areas.

  4. David, I am not sure I agree with your characterization. A critical difference is that the espoused philosophy of the right is that government cannot do anything and less government is always better, which makes right wing calls for any kind of regulation hypocritical. On the left there is a general understanding that there is a role for government, therefore calls for regulation by people on the left are not hypocritical they are attempts at defining the role of government. It is a very important difference.

  5. “Why are social conservatives who urge government regulation in matters of sex so strongly opposed to similar intervention in the economy?”

    maybe because they think of only one kind of sex as ‘natural,’ and also only one kind of economy as ‘natural.’ Attempts to go against nature have catastrophic results for everyone in economic matters, but mostly only the gov’t is big enough to make this mistake, so as long as it sits on its hands, no problem. but anyone can go against nature with their bodies, and this too has bad consequences for us all–ergo, the gov’t should intervene. the point is to make society line up with nature, and gov’t is good or bad depending on how well it does this.

  6. although, squaring this circle is not easy:

    “He also implied that not banning gay people and women who have sex before marriage from teaching would be an attack on Christians, and defended his position on banning gay teachers because he holds the same position on women who have sex outside of marriage.

    “[When I said those things,] no one came to my defense,” he said, the Spartanberg Herald-Journal reported. “But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn’t back down. They don’t want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion.””

    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/10/demint_sexually_active_unmarried_women_and_gay_teachers_should_be_barred_from_classrooms.php?ref=fpa

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