"[W]e have heard a lot in the last year from some snooty ostensibly-conservative pundits who would like to rearrange the conservative coalition and dump social conservatives overboard," writes Jennifer Rubin in Commentary. "However, the health-care bill is as good an example as we will find as to why this is politically idiotic. Here we see that it is social conservatives who remain the last men and women standing against liberal economic- and social-engineering projects. The numbers may just not be there for [Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI)] to disrupt the juggernaut, but it is instructive that the final battle is likely to be over abortion subsidies, not taxes or any other economic issue. Perhaps it's not a good idea for conservatives to tell some of their most stalwart allies to get lost."
I can't endorse Rubin's use of a hyphen after an adverb, but it's an interesting point. I think any definition of conservatism broad enough to include Bart Stupak is broad enough to mean nothing, and Rubin seems to acknowledge this later in the piece by just-asking, "can we acknowledge when the chips are down they are all liberals?"
In theory the Stupak rebellion -- which appears to be ongoing -- is a wrinkle on the whole Cosmotarian issue that is of interest to Our Kind of People. Are social conservatives aligned in some non-incidental way with believers in small government?
My head sez nay like Mr. Ed. Even if Stupak were a Republican this would be a case of incidental friction, not shared beliefs. Otherwise you'd have to say Public Option refuseniks like Dennis Kucinich are stalwart allies whom only idiots would want to keep at a distance. Sometimes, things break your way (or more often, don't) because other people have motives that need to be respected. From an ideological view -- and even more so from the tactical view Rubin is considering here -- the content of the motive does not matter.
My heart says something else, however. It seems to me that people exercising religious cussedness have done more to roll back the state's power to suppress individual freedom than any other group you can name. For many people religious conscience sows the first seeds of doubt about the goodness of the state. I know that one of the few interesting things about Catholicism in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade was having to take seriously the scary, thrilling idea that the United States government was complicit in a vast and horrible crime.