In the Gospels Mathew, Mark and Luke, Jesus is quoted to the effect, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."
This unselfish perspective is at the heart of the unusual marriage created by the Republican Party-that of fiscal conservatives and social conservatives.
Fiscal Conservatives believe in capitalism through free trade and a small government, one that carefully manages the deficit. At the heart of this mind set is every man for themselves-the free market. There is little sympathy for the lower classes and social services-"work harder" is their mantra. President Reagan, a proclaimed fiscal conservative, worked emphatically to lower the taxes on the rich from 70 percent to 28 percent in seven years. He spoke of "trickle down," but what he ensured was more for the wealthy. When the government runs out of tax revenue, social services are cut-if you don't like it, get a job you bum.
Conversely, social conservatives have traditional values-often based on religion. They generally vehemently oppose abortion and same sex marriage. They promote public morality, exemplified in censorship and the death penalty. If they are truly socially conservative, in tune with the teaching of Jesus, they should favor social programs that engage in a humanitarian effort. It is about living one's life morally, giving away more than you keep, and reaping the ultimate prize-spending eternity in Heaven.
So how is it that these two groups have come together to form what is today the Republican Party? Why is it that social conservatives are willing to sacrifice their values of the rich helping the poor-through social programs like Medicare, welfare, unemployment, fair wages, unionization and health insurance-in adopting the economic system of the fiscal conservatives?
Jesus certainly would not approve of the corruption that takes place in capitalism, the "greed is good" in producing shareholder wealth mentality. Jesus would not approve of the destruction of lives, the foreclosure of homes, and the lack of healthcare that occurs as a result of Wall Street's thirst for profits. Presented with that alternative, Jesus would have been a socialist, I am quite sure.
I have often said to poor social conservatives that the Republican Party does not represent your economic interest. I think that most fiscal conservatives could not care less about abortion and gay marriage. It is a distraction that they use and something they wear on their sleeves to bring along the social conservative voters in order to get elected. They care about money, first and foremost, and will do whatever it takes-including selling the American dream-in order to make sure they can keep their money away from the government, and subsequently those in need. Think about the 2004 election when gay marriage brought out lots of social conservatives, despite the fact that party leader, Vice President Cheney, had a gay daughter. Fiscal conservatives played social conservatives like a fiddle.
In reality, social conservatives should create their own political party, combining the economic values of the Democrats with the current social values of Republicans. Democrats believe in making the government as large as necessary to provide necessary social services. However, Democrats, particularly liberal Democrats, will never engage in the censorship and discrimination that encompasses the traditional values of the social conservatives. And fiscal conservatives have no particular interest in providing for the poor-"sharing the wealth," as President Obama famously called it.
The difference in party economic interests is exemplified in the current government deficit debate. Fiscal conservatives were willing to run up large debt during the war, in order to protect their economic interest (terrorist attacks crash stock markets). Conversely, liberals seem willing, if necessary, to run up a deficit in order to provide healthcare for everyone.
Conflicting interest is also marked within the Republican Party itself on the subject of illegal immigration. Fiscal conservatives enjoy the cheap labor but cannot stand the idea of paying for their healthcare. Social conservatives often engage in the discrimination of other groups, but must surely feel a humanitarian responsibility.
Presently, what it comes down to is that social conservatives, when it comes to American politics, do not have a home. They have to either sell out their economic or social interest.
Maybe it is time for social conservatives to identify themselves, break ranks, and ask, "What would Jesus do"?