Conservative websites justly criticize Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) for the bold assertion that fiscal conservatism requires “social conservatism,” by which he means a dedication to God, by regulating society to conform to and mirror his subjective idea of what religious righteousness requires.
Setting to one side the arrogant assumption that Jim DeMint, and the Republican Party, are exclusive conduits to the Almighty (no-one comes to the Kingdom, but through the GOP?), DeMint’s theory seems to satisfy neither his theology, nor the strictures of common sense, nor align with the actual meaning of American exceptionalism.
His theological hook is some neo-gnostic notion that a large government displaces God, by focusing the people on “Caesar,” rather than God. But when government forces the people to God, this is itself an exercise of Caesar’s will, and an accentuation of the “size” of government, both of which DeMint should view as inimical to true faith. Coerced religiosity is no religiosity at all; it’s a tenet of both Christianity and constitutionalism that government intrusion corrupts faith. Properly viewed, “social” conservatism is the enemy of, God, small governance, and any fair understanding of America’s unique place in the world. Theocracy creates the illusion of piety, but this ought not be enough for a religious man, as DeMint purports to be.
Politically, one wonders whether (and when) pronouncements like these will cause tea party groups to finally sour on the Republican Party. If tea party “patriots” actually cared for small government values — and to be clear, I don’t think they do — we would never have come to this pass. But as we get deeper into Republican “governance,” such as it is, we can expect the cognitive dissonance to become increasingly difficult to reconcile.