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THE LAST WORD

Whatever happened to that moratorium on social issues?

Saturday, February 2, 2013 - 12:01 am

Isn’t it wonderful all those shrill “family values” types have knocked off haranguing us about those nasty social issues? How refreshing that we are now free to concentrate our attentions across the aisle only on the pragmatic, quotidian duties of governing and budgeting. Do you feel the love?

Me, not so much. These days, I’m feeling – how shall I put it? – carpet-bombed by the progressive agenda. In the short space of one week, we’ve been hit with movement on:

Women in combat.

Gays in the Boy Scouts.

Gun control.

Immigration reform.

Guaranteed sports access for the handicapped.

Those are all social issues, are they not? Social issues do not spring just from the fevered minds of rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth, far-right wingnuts. They also spring from the wish lists of – forgive me for the invective – rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth, far-left moonbats.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m a conservative with strong libertarian leanings – or a libertarian with strong conservative underpinnings, take your pick – so this shouldn’t be taken as a blanket endorsement of the traditional agenda. And I’m not reflexively against everything on the progressive agenda, either.

But it annoys me no end that most of the commentariat on one side feel perfectly free to browbeat the other side about polluting the body politic with divisive wedge issues – shut up about abortion and traditional marriage! – to the point where even some conservatives cave. Oh, yes, let’s have a moratorium on social issues, urged then-Gov. Mitch Daniels. At the same time, they go about merrily pursuing their own wedge issues. And they feel absolutely no shame about it. Why should they, when they hardly ever get called on it?

Social issues are important to all of us, whichever side we’re coming at them from, so they should be part of our political considerations. And the more we talk about them, the more we can be sure that our positions will evolve slowly, as they should in a sane society.

The problem with abortion was that a drastic new policy was dictated, which short-circuited the debate that had already been developing in the states. The same mistake was just made again with women in combat. At least with gays in the Boy Scouts, Americans are pondering a change on their own, without a government dictate, which can then become part of the fabric of social evolution.

“Wedge issue” is a funny term in a country so rigidly divided into two factions, isn’t it?

Leo Morris is editorial page editor of The News-Sentinel.