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« Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 357 -- The Underrated American Economy. | WILLisms.com | Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Sixty-Three -- Lost Time, Growing Shortfall. »

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 358 -- Religion & Civic Engagement.

The GOP Coalition: A Great Team-

In recent years, there's been quite a bit of discussion about the allegedly growing rift between libertarians and social conservatives within the Republican electoral coalition. Pundits and authors, often times libertarians themselves, argue that the two groups are incompatible. Indeed, Ryan Sager's The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians and the Battle to Control the Republican Party, which argues that libertarian (Western) flavored conservatives need to begin rejecting social (Southern) flavored conservativism, has received quite a bit of attention over the past few months.

That's nice and all, but where is all the discussion-- and where are all the books-- about the sloppily cobbled together Democratic Party electoral coalition, which is far more tenuous and incompatible?

The Republican electoral coalition is a great fit; libertarians and social conservatives can and do complement each other nicely. Ultimately, any discussion of religious conservative "fascist" Ayatollahism within the Republican Party is far overblown.

The fact of the matter is that religious Americans are walking the walk when it comes to the sort of civic engagement necessary for small government. Indeed, religious folks are more likely than secular folks to donate to charity (91% versus 66%), and more likely to volunteer (67% versus 44%):


Religious individuals are also more likely than secular individuals to perform informal charitable acts, give to poverty-relief organizations, and volunteer for social service.

Many social conservatives just want the government to leave them alone (which is why libertarians and social conservatives usually get along so nicely), and they are providing the prerequisites for chopping away at the size of government. Many social conservatives want the government to let them homeschool their kids, or send their kids to private school. Many social conservatives just want their hunting rifles left alone. Social conservatives, on dozens of individual issues, have more in common with "pure" libertarians than many religiophobic people are willing to admit. The result of the libertarian-social conservative marriage is that the two sides moderate the Republican Party away from unelectable dogmatism, in any direction.

Ultimately, though, I'd be willing to bet that there is a lot more overlap between the two categories than many people are willing to admit. Americans are pragmatic like that. I, for one, identify with both "factions" and don't see a whole lot of philosophical or ideological incoherence between the two allegedly feuding sides.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Debunking Economic Pessimism.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 October 2006 06:25 PM