May 24, 2015.
It's easy to be socially liberal but fiscally conservative if what you mean by it is "I'm in favor of myself, my family, and my friends being able to enjoy certain rights, freedoms, privileges, and benefits that come from living in an enlightened and tolerant democratic nation and of our being able to pursue our individual dreams of happiness in our own chosen ways, and I'm happy to let others have all that and be able to do that as long as they pay their own way and don't ask me to chip in any of my tax money to help them out."
Which is, of course, what most people who describe themselves as social liberals but fiscal conservatives mean.
If you come from the right background and belong to the right class and live in the right place and travel in the right circles, being socially liberal means living exactly as you're already living. And it doesn't cost you anything.
People calling themselves social liberals but fiscal conservatives want credit for being open-minded but hard-headed. “I'm enlightened, I'm tolerant, but I'm no sap. I know the piper has to be paid.”
But how liberal is it to want your wife to have her law career but not care that thousands of other women are working three minimum wage jobs to put food on their families' tables? How liberal is it to want your daughter to have access to an abortion but don't care the millions of other people's children can't see a doctor for a regular checkup? How liberal is it if you want your son to be able to marry his partner but don't care if millions of other young men can't afford to have families of their own because they can't find decent jobs, because they couldn't go to college or even finish high school because their neighborhood schools were disasters? How liberal is it if you don't mind what color the professionals living next door in your pretty and safe suburban neighborhood of McMansions are if you don't care that the neighborhoods where millions of people of color are forced by poverty, bad luck, and racism to live are falling apart?
That's not open-minded, that's self-centeredness. It's not hard-headedness, it's hard-heartedness. Socially liberal but fiscally conservative is meant to be a boast of paired virtues.But that's not what it is. It's a confession of a double vice.
But beside that, whatever it is socially or fiscally, politically it's meaningless. People who describe themselves that way tend to vote Republican and the Republican Party these days is anything but socially liberal. Just the opposite. It is actively and aggressively at work trying to reverse all socially liberal advances of the last 50 years. Meanwhile its economic agenda isn't even conservative. It isn't designed to save taxpayers money. It doesn't save them money. It saves corporations and the very rich tax money. But the rest of us pay more to make up for their savings and not just in increased taxes. It costs us in services and benefits. It costs us in increased prices (which are really hidden taxes) for things like drivers licenses and entrance fees at national parks. It costs us more for health care and college tuition and heating our homes and driving our cars. Spending doesn't go down. The bills are paid in different ways. Robbing Peter to pay Paul isn't fiscally conservative. It's a Ponzi scheme.
More to the point, the intent of the Republicans' economic policies isn't just to direct more money into the pockets of the rich. It is to take money and with it the power to control our own lives and pursue our own individual dreams of happiness away from the rest of us.
Both their social and economic agendas are intended to make this a socially illiberal nation.
You can't be socially liberal and fiscally conservative if you vote Republican. You can only be socially illiberal and fiscally hypocritical and unjust.
Over at Salon, Greta Christina puts it this way. You can't be socially liberal and fiscally conservative because fiscal conservatism is in practice destructive of a liberal society.
You can’t separate fiscal issues from social issues. They’re deeply intertwined. They affect each other. Economic issues often are social issues. And conservative fiscal policies do enormous social harm. That’s true even for the mildest, most generous version of “fiscal conservatism” — low taxes, small government, reduced regulation, a free market. These policies perpetuate human rights abuses. They make life harder for people who already have hard lives. Even if the people supporting these policies don’t intend this, the policies are racist, sexist, classist (obviously), ableist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise socially retrograde. In many ways, they do more harm than so-called “social policies” that are supposedly separate from economic ones. Here are seven reasons that “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” is nonsense.
You should read the whole post, 7 ideas completely lost on people who are “fiscally conservative but socially liberal”.