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Sex, poverty, and ignorance: The sad state of social conservatism

Written By | Mar 21, 2014

OCALA, Fla., March 21, 2014 — The midterm primaries are upon us, with increasing radicalism among Democratic and Republican constituencies alike. 

While Obamacare, a perpetually weak economy, and illegal immigration are the issues of our day, social matters of yesteryear continue to resurface among partisans.

This is big news, though due to different reasons than some might expect. For better or for worse, the country is tilting in the Democrats’ direction when it comes to social policy. What does this mean for the GOP? 

An answer to this question begets several queries of its own.

In their 2010 book Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture, academics Naomi Cahn and Julie Carbone noted that many families residing in states which lean toward social liberalism are financially secure, sufficiently educated, well cultured, and planned long in advance.

Families from states that are skewed toward social conservatism, however, tend to have a broad share of America’s out of wedlock births, low education rates, poorly paying jobs, forced situational marriages, and gender imbalances.

The authors attributed this to the “blue paradigm (being) the other end of the sexual revolution” with its “families….remade….(as) a huge success.” The red paradigm, meanwhile, has families that are living in the past with children that simply cannot live up to grand expectations, which results in highly counterproductive consequences.

It is best to approach the subject from an economic standpoint, rooted in the idea that those in dire straits tend to be more self-destructive than those who are not. After all, if one is impoverished in the present, and has little hope for the future, then this can easily lead to feelings of low self-esteem or worth.

Should one be in such a position, what incentive is there to be individually productive?

The anger stemming from this scenario can make social rightism especially attractive as it all too frequently portrays societal minorities as scapegoats for one’s misery or perceived cultural degradation.

That many social rightists cannot live up to their own standards is, quite frankly, unimportant to them. The standards in question merely serve as symbolic guidelines, and are not meant to be attainable in any practical sense. This, of course, allows for rank hypocrisy to develop on a myriad of levels. 

Enter a factoid about pornography consumption by state. Not just any kind of pornography, though.

According to Google’s trend index, Mississippi, an internationally recognized bastion of hardcore social rightism, leads the nation for the search of “gay sex”. It has some close competitors, however. In descending order, these are Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, Nevada, and last but most certainly not least, Texas.

Needless to say, all of the aforementioned states, with the exception of Nevada, have some of the most stringently antigay laws in the entire country, and generally pride themselves on their traditional values.

Maybe this is because they have populaces fearful of glaring social realities that lie under the veneer of ‘traditionalism’; whatever that is supposed to mean these days. 

At any rate, the old adage of “do as I say and not as I do” seems to be strong as ever in a good number of the United States. Even for those of us who by no means advocate social leftism, there is far too much wrong in the world of social rightism to render it as anything approaching a viable alternative.

Perhaps the best path forward for this country can be found in the non-fundamentalist aspects of social libertarianism. Turning “do as I say and not as I do” into “live and let live” sure seems like a good plan. Actually, it is difficult imagining any rational alternative to it. 

The question is this: Could a majority of those who want to legislate morality on the right or subsidize personal choices on the left ever possibly agree? In this day and age, the answer is far less than encouraging.

Much of this article was first published as The real Cost of Family Values? Rightist States, Leftist Problems, and Failed Economies in Blogcritics Magazine.


Joseph Cotto

Joseph Cotto is a nationally syndicated columnist. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he wrote for The Washington Times Communities and Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications.