Thanks to Rich Shipe for alerting me to this article in “The Weekly Standard” by Jeffrey Bell entitled: “Alive and Kicking: Reports of the Demise of Social Conservatism Are Greatly Exaggerated. Mr. Bell notes that social conservatism has taken hold nowhere but in America, that the conservative parties of other Western nations have acquiesced to abortion, sexual permissiveness, the decline of marriage, and other cultural changes, concentrating instead on economic issues. Then Mr. Bell says this:
But there are several offsetting factors at work that have made and will continue to make social conservatism hard to marginalize. For one thing, social conservatism is the only mass-based political persuasion that fully believes in the core ideas of the American founding. It has taken over that role from parties, professions, and ideologies that used to perform it, and as a result it is touching a deep chord with millions of American voters.
Most social conservatives believe that the central principle asserted in the Declaration of Independence is true: “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.” While almost all Americans respect these words at least as a sentiment or metaphor, it is a fact that most–not all–social conservatives believe them to be literally true, while most–not all–opponents of social conservatism do not believe them to be literally true.
As long as these key assertions of our nation’s founding document continue to be taken literally by many Americans, social conservatism will resonate among Americans in a way that competing philosophies cannot–and in a way that, given the very different founding narratives of most countries in Europe and elsewhere, cannot easily be replicated beyond these shores.
Does this explain social conservatism? What would you add?