Many of you saw the comments made by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels last week when he said the next president “would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues” so he or she could focus on the fiscal problems facing the country.
As I’ve made clear, I really like Governor Daniels, and I consider him a friend and colleague, but his comments mirror those of the GOP establishment who view values voters dismissively as “single-minded.” The fact is that every value voter I know is truly committed to fiscal conservatism, but many fiscal conservatives and libertarians range from disinterest to contempt for social issues.
I learned a lot during 13 1/2 years as a Governor and Lieutenant Governor about why government gets big and taxes get higher and what causes and solves the issues of poverty and crime. I detailed a lot of that in my book “Do the Right Thing,” but here’s the simple truth: Poverty and crime are the direct results of broken families and broken values of responsibility, work, marriage, and respect of others. Prisons are overflowing and government “relief” programs get traction often because of the breakdown of our social structure. If we don’t respect the value of each individual life whether in the womb or the classroom or the living room, we devalue property and intangible qualities of life. It gets expensive.
I responded to Gov. Daniel’s comments with the following blog post on HuckPAC.com: “ . . . the issue of life and traditional marriage are not bargaining chips nor or they political issues. They are moral issues. I didn’t get involved in politics just to lower taxes and deficit spending though I believe in both and have done it as a Governor. But I want to stay true to the basic premises of our civilization.”
Sadly, Gov. Daniels is not alone in his way of thinking and it’s not a new concept. During the last presidential election – many reporters, Republicans and Democrats suggested the same moratorium on morality. The political winds began to whisper of stopping the discussion on morality and starting the discussion on the “important issues.”
Let me be clear – MORALITY AND THE ECONOMY are inextricably linked.
- The collapse of morality and ethical business practices preceded the collapse of Wall Street – unchecked greed caused the downfall;
- A decrease in morality preceded an increase in the prison population – state budgets via taxes, increase every year to pay for prisons; and,
- We don’t emphasize character in our public schools, and ignorance is expensive– a national high school drop out rate of 1 in 3 students produces poverty – crippling our economy in countless ways.
I’m not saying Wall Street, prisons and poverty are not the only influences on our economy – there are countless others – nor am I saying morality solves every economic crisis we face. But I am saying strong moral fiber would prevent many of our nation’s economic disasters.
Should we focus on the economy and the staggering and crippling debt? Absolutely! But I fear that talk of a “truce” means that we are making excuses for compromise on moral issues, and there is no need to separate economic issues from the social issues. We can and must focus on both.
Now is not the time to shift focus from moral issues we need to shift focus toward moral issues.