Social Issues

Defining Social Conservatism Up

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Friend of reason Jim Henley notes the withering of social conservatism by pointing to a couple of people who still try to seriously hew to some ancient social-con verities now a-mouldering in the grave, Chronicles's editor Thomas Fleming and radio busybody Laura Schlessinger, and seem unbearably eccentric for doing so.

They both believe that it ain't enough that Sarah Palin chose to bear all those kids, and encourage her daughter to bear hers as well: she shouldn't be doing anything as time-consuming outside the home as governing as a mother.

As Henley notes:

When Fleming was young and I was younger, conservatism opposed married women working outside the home—it meant your husband was a failure either as a provider, or at keeping you in line. While there was no shortage of the Bristol Palin Maneuver, quickly marrying off your pregnant daughter was something done hush-hush, not something you trumpeted as a victory for "Life," for which you could reasonably expect applause. Divorce? A mark of defeat, whose product was a fallen woman. As for single mothers? Jezebels to be driven from the Valley.

Nowadays "social conservatism" means opposition to legal abortion (as it did back then) and gay marriage, but as the Word Publishing spinner rack in your drug store will make clear, working-motherhood, divorce, single-momitude and teenage pregnancy are "issues" and "challenges" for evangelical families to work through—prayerfully of course. As long as there's no faggotry or pregnancy termination, it's all good.

My review of Thomas Fleming's book The Morality of Everyday Life: Rediscovering an Ancient Alternative to the Liberal Tradition from The Freeman can be found on page four of this .pdf. Spoiler: I defend the "liberal tradition."