The American Principles Project (APP) released an important new report yesterday that shows data proving a majority of Americans support policies held by social conservatives. The report argues that a unified platform of social and economic conservatism is a winning electoral strategy—though conservatives need to greatly improve their messaging on economic policy and start messaging on social policy.
Most importantly, however, advancing such a unified governing agenda is the principled thing for Americans to do.
The conservative movement exists to uphold the truths of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The right to life is not only for the strong and powerful, the rich and famous. It is for all human beings, including the weak, marginalized and infirm—wanted or unwanted, born or unborn. Redefining who is included in the community of rights-bearing individuals so as to exclude the unborn is not the principled thing to do.
The right to liberty takes on particular importance when addressing the most important—and sacred—things. After all, the first right protected in the Bill of Rights is the free exercise of religion. Citizens, the groups they form and the businesses they run should be free to act in the public square according to their conscientious beliefs.
Marriage, the fundamental institution of civil society, remains the best protector of the rights of children to pursue happiness. Redefining marriage to make it about the desires of adults instead of the needs of children is not the principled thing to do.
One reason that Americans must work to protect life, religious liberty, and marriage is that other Americans are hard at work undermining these values. If there is a culture war in America, conservatives are not the aggressors.
Conservatives cannot exit the policy arena while liberals push for taxpayer funded abortions, while liberals force employers and individuals to pay for coverage of abortion inducing drugs, while liberals push to redefine marriage, shut down Christian adoption agencies or force Christian photographers, florists, bakers and innkeepers to celebrate same-sex relationships.
The conservative movement should continue to stand on principle with respect to social issues. We must be prudent, measured, and persistent in making the case for why socially conservative policies will lead to a better America. We should present an “Indivisible” conservative vision while forming new coalitions and expanding support for these fundamental ideas.
As conservatives, we want all our fellow citizens to flourish. And for that reason we stand for life, for religious liberty, for marriage, for economic freedom, for low taxes, for markets in health care, for school choice.
At the end of the day, economic conservatism and social conservatism spring from the same source. They are grounded in the same principles of natural right and natural law that informed our nation’s Founding—principles that the conservative movement exists to protect.
You can read Ryan Anderson’s article “A House Divided Cannot Stand” at this link.