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Defining “Conservative”

Timothy Kincaid

January 16th, 2008

Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee are fighting for the evangelical conservative vote in South Carolina, the first southern state primary. They recently engaged in a little dispute over who is the real conservative.

While Huckabee is an ardent social conservative with close ties to the Christian Reconstructionist movement, and while he favors amending the Constitution to bring it into alignment with “God’s Standards“, other Republican nominees and conservative groups have noted that his positions on immigration, taxation, spending, crime, and free-market issues are not at all conservative.

The Wall Street Journal reported a bit about the exchange of words between Thompson and Huckabee.

Mr. Thompson, in a pitched competition with Mr. Huckabee for the evangelical vote in South Carolina, said he’s the one with consistent social conservative credentials. Of the former Arkansas governor’s record, “liberal would be the word I would apply to it,” he said.

Mr. Huckabee said it’s “ludicrous” to think he’s liberal and pointed out he favors a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and Mr. Thompson doesn’t.

And there you have it. In Rev. Huckabee’s mind, the difference between liberal and conservative is whether one favors a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The rest is all negotiable.



January 16th, 2008 | LINK

Thompson does believe in “leaving it to states” and in constitutionalizing DOMA.

So his bona fides as a bigot are not really in dispute.

Emily K
January 16th, 2008 | LINK


Maybe Huck-a-bible should look up what “conservative” means. Um, any Log-Cabiners around??

Suricou Raven
January 16th, 2008 | LINK

Conservatives split years ago – there are three distinct schools now. Social conservatives, political conservatives and fiscal conservatives. They often come into conflict, but will still team together to fight their common enemy the liberals.

The gay marriage ammendment, for example:
– Social say gay marriage needs to be banned at a federal level, as a matter of morality – we all know their reasons. Homophobia wrapped up in talk of traditional family and other political codewords.
– Political conservatives say its a matter for the states, not the feds. They dont support gay marriage either – they just think its none of the federal government’s business.
– Fiscal conservatives dont care either way, except as a way to spend less on partner benefits.

Ben in oakland
January 16th, 2008 | LINK

It’s called pandering.

Paul B
January 17th, 2008 | LINK

Suricou Raven identifies the common devision of the Republican alliance. An alliance that appears to be splintering from either the weight of its internal conflicts,corruption or the natural life span of movements. Either way there will be a realignment creating opportunities for our community. Corporate and personal greed split from fiscal responsibility. Religious conviction split from fundamentalist absolutism. State freedom split from States Rights. All of these are openings for gaining allies for LGBT equality. FOr a long time the LOG Cabin boys have been shouting in the wilderness but the time may be coming when they can deliver the disaffected from their extremest party. I believe the current Andrew Sullivan trend of reasoned assault on the radical right will bear fruit. The question is where they will go after abandoning Huck the religious, Mitt the corporatist and McCain the retread?

Erica B.
January 17th, 2008 | LINK

I really can’t wait until the SC Republican primary is over. I’m getting two calls a day in support of Huckabee. Interesting, only about half the calls are starting off with a discussion of a candidate’s social conservatism; many discuss American jobs and the economy before transitioning to abortion or gay marriage. (They always get there in the end, though.)

Writing that makes me wonder why the hell I’m staying on the phone long enough to know that.

Suricou Raven
January 18th, 2008 | LINK

“Interesting, only about half the calls are starting off with a discussion of a candidate’s social conservatism; many discuss American jobs and the economy before transitioning to abortion or gay marriage.”

Because everyone knows his positions on abortion and gay marriage already. They are trying to make it seem like he has something else to talk about, and isn’t just a two-issue candidate who cares about nothing else.

Which is sort of true – he also has his tax reform proposal. The one that economists usually conclude to be either economically damaging or totally unworkable, but which enjoys public support because he is promissing people more income and less paperwork.

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