Archive for September, 2007

What Is A “Social Conservative?”

September 28, 2007

This blog and accompanying website is entitled “So-Cons for Rudy.” There has been a lot of consideration given by the media, with no little head-scratching, trying to figure out why social conservatives would, or should, support Rudy Giuliani for President. He’s supposedly “too liberal” on social issues. So, how does one explain the apparent disconnect between supposedly supporting conservative values in society, and supporting a candidate for President who doesn’t fit cleaning with those conservative social values?

The body of posts to this blog and to the website address that question, but as one who considers himself a social conservative, let me define what I think the term means.

I believe that our nation, our system of government, and our freedoms were built upon the exercise of personal responsibility. The nation protects liberty, not license, and a society reflecting a “do your own thing” set of values will be coercive to the nation. I agree with John Adams who wrote, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” But I believe, ultimately, that the character of the nation isn’t determined by those in power, but by the character of the people themselves. Of course, the character of the people should be reflected in the character of the people we elect to public office, but the character of the nation cannot, ultimately, be something that is imposed from the top down.

And this is where I probably part ways with many of my social conservative brethren. Many social conservatives believe that government should reflect traditional, even religious values. I believe that our society, made up of hundreds of millions of people, should reflect traditional, even religious values…but only if there’s a traditional-values consensus within the society. These values cannot, ultimately, be imposed from the top down by government policy or edict. Yet many social conservatives think they can, and should. Ultimately, however, it isn’t the power of government and politics that will change people’s hearts, and hence the values in our society. And, so, for the important task of forming the values inherent in the society, as a Christian, I trust in the gospel of Christ, and the working of the Holy Spirit, not in the platform of the Republican Party or the values of a few key office holders.

So, why am I, a social conservative in the tradition of the Founders, supporting Rudy Giuliani for President? My blog entries here answer that question, but to address it briefly:

  • Because Rudy is the most conservative person in the race. His record as mayor shows that he governed with conservative principles, and that he is willing and quite able to fight for those principles, successfully so, and that he did this in an extremely liberal city such as New York inclines me to believe that he’s up to the task to lead this nation.
  • I support Rudy Giuliani because, while many people have fallen asleep on this point, we’re still a nation at war, working here and abroad to assure America’s security against Islamist terrorists. Rudy Giuliani clearly understands this, and is, in my opinion, the only one who can refocus the nation’s resolve on this issue.
  • Finally, I think Rudy stands the best chance of beating Hillary Clinton. For me, the most important “traditional value” in this election is keeping the Clintons out of the White House. In this, I believe that social conservatism should, ultimately, be pragmatic. 

On a personal note: I have worked in government relations and politics for the past 34 years. Thirty-five years ago, in college, I came to Christ, expressed faith in who he is and what he did on the cross, so I’ve spent my entire professional career considering how my faith impacts, or should impact, the arena I work in.

A number of years ago, I was asked to speak to a group of students from a number of private Christian high schools who had come to Sacramento for a week-long Model Legislature. I was asked to talk about the role of Christians in politics and government. What I told them is that the role of Christians who in government is the same as the role of Christians who are lawyers, teachers, doctors, engineers, or greeters at WalMart – to reflect the fruit of the Spirit and the character of Christ; to treat people with respect and deference; to conduct oneself with civility, honesty, and integrity; to approach one’s profession with the spirit and attitude of a servant; to bless one’s enemies and not curse them. If Christians do that, they will have a far greater impact for good in this country, and for the advance of Christ’s kingdom, than they will in pushing any particular political agenda. My observation is that many of my socially conservative brethren have lost sight of this.

Greg Alterton


Democrats Court Conservative Evangelical Voters

September 25, 2007

Newsweek (Oct. 1) is running an article about how Democrats are attempting to reach out to conservative evangelical voters as a way of diluting what has been one of the most solid voting blocks for Republicans over the past 28 years.

This is really not that surprising. What I find astonishing is the reaction of certain so-called evangelical leaders. To quote from the article:

Richard Land had never met one-on-one with a chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The Tennessee evangelist, an influential force in the Southern Baptist Convention, generally views such people as adversaries, if not enemies. So consider his surprise when, at a nonpartisan leadership conference over the New Year’s holiday, Howard Dean leaned in and said he’d love to get together for a private chat. Land agreed to meet for coffee at a downtown Washington hotel. He was wary: “I brought a witness,” he jokes now. Dean was there to chip away at Land’s loyalty to the GOP, and strangely, Land found himself warming to the liberal Democrat.

What impresses Land most about Dean? That he apparently carries his own luggage!

Among other things, he [Land] admired Dean’s frugality. “He hauled his own suitcase around, and the Capitol Hill Suites isn’t exactly fancy,” Land tells NEWSWEEK. “I was impressed.”

The article continues:

Front runner Rudy Giuliani leaves conservative Christians particularly cold. “If the Republicans are foolish enough to nominate the pro-choice Giuliani, that will give the Democratic Party license to hunt for evangelical votes,” says Land, who has been contacted by both the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns. “I don’t know how successful they’ll be, but at least they’ll have that license.”

So let me get this straight: Richard Land, and his ilk, oppose Rudy Giulani – Rudy, who has pledged to appoint conservative judges to the federal judiciary (which, if memory serves, was quite enough reason for pro-life voters to support George W. Bush in 2000); Rudy, who supports parental notification prior to minors getting abortions; Rudy, who supports the restrictions on federal funding for abortion embodied in the Hyde Amendment; Rudy, who more than most pro-life office holders actually reduced the number of abortions while mayor of New York City by increasing adoptions in the city – these self-appointed champions of “traditional values” oppose Rudy, and yet they are willing to consider the possibility of voting for a candidate from the “Party of Death,” the party of abortion-for-convenience, the party that imposes a pro-abortion litmus test on judicial nominees?

As we have argued on this blog, one can still be a social conservative and support Rudy Giuliani. Support for Rudy doesn’t mean we give up our efforts to change the nation’s policies on such issues as abortion or Roe v. Wade. It simply means that we’ve taken a pragmatic and realistic view of the upcoming election, and see a different means to the ends we all support. But this willingness to be schmoozed and courted by the political party that is the embodiment of everything we oppose, is beyond reason. Frankly, when it comes to “single issue politics,” my “single issue” is keeping the Democrats out of the White House.

Since the disastrous results of the 2006 election, I’ve been toying with a hypothesis that American conservatism, at least on the national level, at the level of Washington politics, is something of a spent force. Supposed conservatives in Congress couldn’t seem to hold the line on all sorts of spending, including “pork” for pet projects; couldn’t bring President Bush’s more conservative judicial nominees to a vote in the Senate, despite the fact that the GOP enjoyed a majority in that house (couldn’t seem to grow a spine, in other words); have for years given lip-service to the pro-life agenda, but done precious little to advance that agenda. The failure of American conservatism to produce an appealing, articulate, and visionary leader since Ronald Reagan is testimony to the vacuum of leadership within conservatism in this nation.

Conservatism on the national level appears to be fatigued, intellectually. And now, as reported by Newsweek, conservatism seems to be losing its moral foundation as well.

Greg Alterton

American Family Association Resorts to Defamation in Anti-Rudy Push Poll

September 20, 2007

AFA's defamatory push poll.ATTENTION:

The American Family Association, an organization that has traditionally been a reliable promoter of family values, has stooped to a truly low level today.  In a blatant act of dirty politics, the once-trustworthy AFA has shown it has no intention of living up to its own high moral standards, as it trashes presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani and spreads falsehoods about where he stands on the issues.

The AFA today sent a push poll to an estimated 3+ million voters, asking whether or not they would vote for Rudy Giuliani knowing that he was “pro-abortion and pro-homosexual marriage.”

Calling Rudy Giuliani pro-abortion (which is basically akin to calling someone who in favor of keeping the death penalty ‘pro-death’) is a bit misleading.  The office of United States President has very little influence on abortion policy, but on every abortion-related issue that a U.S. President has the power to influence, Rudy Giuliani sides with pro-life conservatives.  From maintaining the Hyde Amendment and Mexico City Policy (which ban almost all federal funding for abortions) to the Partial Birth Abortion Ban to parental notification laws to promoting adoptions as an alternative to abortions to his (probably the most important) belief in sending conservative judges to the Supreme Court, a President Giuliani wouldn’t be any different than President Bush on the matter.  But AFA’s misleading generalization on this issue isn’t the real problem here.

Calling Giuliani “pro-homosexual marriage” goes beyond misleading to outright falsehood.  Rudy Giuliani has always been in favor of preserving the traditional institution of marriage between one man and one woman.  Here’s what Rudy has had to say on the issue:

  • 2006: “I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, that it should remain that way, it should remain that way inviolate, and everything should be done to make sure that that’s the case.”
  • 2000 (even before he was running for President):”The institution of marriage should remain defined as a man and a woman.”

Social conservatives, regardless of whom they support for President (if we let the AFA get away with slandering Rudy, then they can get away with slandering any candidate) should speak out against the “American Falsehood Association.”  We should demand that they (1) send out another e-mail to their mailing list subscribers to correct the error, (2) correct the statements on their website (, and then (3) issue a written apology to Rudy Giuliani for defaming his name.

We urge all social conservatives to contact the AFA at to demand that they take actions 1-3 mentioned above.

We also urge you to go here and sign the petition urging the AFA to renounce its dirty politics and apologize to Rudy.

AFA Defames Rudy.  Sign The Petition Demanding An Apology.

Rudy Recap — Educate Yourself On The Truth:

Anti-Roe and Pro-Rudy

September 14, 2007

Excellent article in the New York Times today by Eric Johnston.  He takes a fascinating new perspective on the pro-life case for Rudy Giuliani by arguing the point that Rudy will be able to present an anti-Roe case from a democratic perspective, and might just help shake up the popular thinking that being anti-Roe is simply a “Christian thing.”

TO the disbelief of the political class, Rudy Giuliani still leads the polls in the race for the Republican nomination for president. Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson seem unable to compete with conservative affection for a thrice-married, twice-divorced, socially liberal New Yorker.

Perhaps I can help alleviate the pundits’ bafflement. I am a fervent pro-lifer, and I like Rudy Giuliani. And it’s not because, as some suggest, I think national security is more important than abortion. I think Mr. Giuliani will be the most effective advocate for the pro-life cause precisely because he is unreligious and a supporter of abortion rights.

Read More>>

Fred Thompson Stumbles Out Of The Gate

September 13, 2007

After months of slouching toward a campaign, Fred Thompson finally breaks out of the gate, it seems, only to immediately stumble over his own lack of focus or ability to run a campaign, coupled with his hazy record on the issues and a weeklong slog of lackluster performances:

A Rocky Rollout For Thompson – George Will, Washington Post

Fred Thompson’s plunge into the presidential pool — more belly-flop than swan dive — was the strangest product launch since that of New Coke in 1985. Then, the question was: Is this product necessary? A similar question stumped Thompson the day he plunged.

New Coke was announced on April 23, 1985, with the company’s president piling on adjectives usually reserved for Lafite Rothschild — “smoother, rounder yet bolder.” Almost 80 days later, the public having sampled it, the company pulled the product from stores. Perhaps Thompson’s candidacy will last longer than New Coke did.

The Thompson Campaign – Paul Weyrich,

It is not entirely clear what Thompson believes. When he was Senator he seemed to support an open-borders approach to immigration. In recent speeches Thompson has not supported President George W. Bush’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, which was soundly defeated.

If the Thompson balloon were launched high but then returned to earth, with Thompson falling behind other candidates, that would mean the several-month tease in the form of his exploratory committee would have been for naught.

Fred Thompson’s Campaign Clarifies Marriage Amendment Position – David Brody, CBN

[Thompson will] take some heat for that but the larger issue for social conservatives may be this: If California start to have legislatures endorse gay marriage and have a liberal Governor sign it into law then what Thompson is saying is that he’ll live with that because it didn’t come from an unelected judge but rather elected representatives. How will that go over with conservative pro-family groups?

An Almost Unforgivable Mistake That Should Not Have Been Made – Erick,

One would hope that on the fundamental, driving issue of national security — the issue that is driving so many as we head toward 2008 — having to backtrack on the very basic issue of what to do with Osama would be unnecessary.

The first Thompson statement was a tacit endorsement of the Clinton policy this nation repudiated after September 11th.

And at this stage in the game, even Hillary Clinton has answered more competently on that subject that the Thompson campaign’s first stab at it.

That the campaign required a second stab at that basic question makes me shudder with disbelief.

Sleepwalking in September – Gail Collins, The New York Times

When it comes to overhyped underperformers, Fred Thompson’s entry into the presidential race was right up there with Britney Spears at the MTV awards.

The Republican Party’s great tall hope announced his intentions on Jay Leno’s show, and timed it to coincide with his avoidance of the candidate debate in New Hampshire. That was supposed to send the message of – what? A fear of crowds? A preference for answering questions only while seated? His performance certainly could not have been more low-key. You do not often hear somebody say “I’m running for president” in the same tone Jay’s guests use to announce that they’ve signed on for the next season of “Dancing With the Stars.”

The Field So Far – Rick Brookhiser, National Review

Now that Fred Thompson is officially in the race, it is appropriate to say that he is, on the face of it, by far the weakest potential president of the top tier Republicans.

Strongest is Giuliani who, alone of all the candidates in both parties, has done something. Two things—saved New York City; and led America for two days six years ago.

Fred Thompson came to the offices of National Review some years when he was still in the Senate. I liked him fine. He has done nothing, anywhere, ever. The Hubble Telescope could not find what he has done, because he has not done it.

It would be unwise to put such a man in the White House at this moment in history.

Hat-tip to

Ditto: “Why The Conservatives Like Rudy” — Jennifer Rubin

September 4, 2007

I just wanted everyone to see the great article by Jennifer Rubin in the New York Observer today, entitled “Why the Conservatives Like Rudy.”

Heading into the post-Labor Day sprint to the primaries, Rudy Giuliani has utterly defied the pundits who predicted that Republican voters would never accept a twice divorced, pro-choice New Yorker.

Rather than wilt, Mr. Giuliani has cemented his lead in national polls and in South Carolina—one of the most conservative states in the country. The latest Diageo/Hotline poll shows that he not only leads his closest competitor Fred Thompson by 10 points, but also leads among Evangelicals by the same margin and is up by six points among voters who believe abortion should be banned entirely.

Why did the pundits and many conservative critics get it so wrong, and why is Mr. Giuliani scoring so well with died hard conservatives?
Read More>>

I would also add that on top of Rudy’s commitment to appointing justices to the Supreme Court who will interpret the Constitution as it was meant to be interpreted (read between the lines: be more likely to see through the judicial faux paux that is Roe v. Wade), Rudy also sides with us pro-lifers on all of the relatively few areas where a President can possibly influence the abortion debate:

President Giuliani will:

  • Maintain the Hyde Amendment, which restricts almost all federal funding for abortions.
  • Maintain the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.
  • Maintain parental notification laws.
  • Work with private organizations and faith-based groups to make concrete statistical reductions in abortion, promote adoption as an alternative, and ensure that all women are fully educated about the benefits of putting their baby up for adoption instead of abortion, before they make a choice.
  • Cut the red tape involved in the adoption process, bring in more case workers, and make permanent a $10,000 tax incentive to promote adoptions.
  • Make federal abortion statistics more up-to-date so the American People can keep him accountable on his promise to reduce abortions.
    (See here for more.)

Not only does Rudy hold the line on all the greatest successes of the pro-life movement in recent decades, he goes above and beyond, making the saving of actual unborn lives a priority.