During the seemingly endless build-up to the Iowa caucuses, there was one consistent refrain repeated over and over. It’s like the big lie — the more you keep repeating it, the more people are going to believe it, but it remains a lie.
The lie was simply this: that the political parties have to choose between social issues and economic issues. This year, the media and the party machines are telling us ad nauseam that the only issue that matters is the economy.
So any candidate who wants to win the White House should just shut up about things like marriage, the sanctity of life, religious liberty, and those other annoying issues that distract us from focusing on jobs and the economy.
But that’s crazy! Doesn’t anybody get the connection between the social issues and economics issues?
One candidate who does, Rick Santorum, had the courage to link the two in a recent Iowa town hall meeting. (And before I go on, please, folks, I’m not endorsing him or anyone. I never do.)
Here’s what Senator Santorum said:
“Yes, [the election is] about growth and the economy, [but] it’s also about what is at the core of our country . . . faith and family. You can’t have a strong economy, you can’t have limited government if the family is breaking down and we don’t live good, moral, and decent lives.”
Precisely right. And what does he get for his remarks? Backhanded compliments for his showing in Iowa and a stern warning from, among others, the conservative National Review:
Here’s what the National Review wrote online: “In a general election…where the focus is almost certainly going to be on economic issues, it is questionable whether Santorum’s relentless focus on social issues will play well with independent voters, especially in the crucial suburbs.”
Hogwash. If the nation’s current economic crisis has taught us anything, it’s that a healthy economy cannot thrive in the midst of moral breakdown. Ethical failures on Wall Street, Main Street, and Capitol Hill put us into this mess we’re in today, as I’ve said many times before.
But how about some facts? Take incarceration rates: something Santorum has alluded to and I’ve seen with my own eyes: “Young men who grow up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families.” And “70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes.”
How about education? Seventy-one percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. And children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes.
I could go on and on.
Do you think that crime rates, incarceration, low educational achievement, out of wedlock births, affect the economy and government spending? Of course they do, and the statistics prove this!
If you want a healthy, thriving economy you’ve got to have a strong moral societal foundation. And any so-called “conservatives” who think otherwise are simply deluding themselves; the two issues simply can’t be separated
As Christians, we can’t buy into the lie that we can separate economic prosperity from moral behavior. And we can’t be afraid to hold the candidates’ feet to the fire on this, either.