What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a legal opinion on a 5-4 vote, holding that every state in the country must recognize, and perform, marriages for same-sex couples. Predictably, conservatives are outraged.
Contrary to what they believe, they bear some of the blame for today’s ruling.
I’ve grown quite fond of the adage, “Never give your friend a power that you wouldn’t want your enemy to have.” In political parlance, this means you shouldn’t empower the state to do something you like when your party or perspective is dominant, because that power can be wrested from and used against you. And that’s what has happened here.
Marriage licensure has long been used as a tool against undesirable people—a way to forcibly, financially, and politically undermine unions that the majority deems offensive or worthless. This government power has long been approved and encouraged by social conservatives looking to impose their religious and social views on society through the coercive arm of government.
Today, that coercive arm has punched them in the gut.
Here’s the thing: because these people relied on government to enforce their vision of society, they fell asleep at the wheel—they haven’t been persuading others as to the importance of man-woman marriage, or proselytizing the gospel and (their understanding of) God’s definition of marriage. They abandoned the marketplace of ideas in favor of the machinery of the state. They’ve been spending their time focused on ballot initiatives and legislative strategies, instead of marketing campaigns, evangelism, and individual interactions.
It’s little surprise, then, to watch the tides of public opinion shift so sharply. People generally get what they want–and now many people want what social conservatives have long been opposing.
This is why I say that such conservatives have been lazy, abdicating their responsibility to engage with others to government force. This was, from its inception, a losing cause. Those who are wailing and gnashing teeth in response to today’s court opinions and others preceding it should undergo some serious self-introspection and ask themselves what they have done—apart from showing up at the ballot box every so often—to advance the ideals and definitions they espouse.
Marriage is important, and morality is essential—but for too long, social conservatives have relied upon Caesar to impose such institutions and ideals on the masses. Today they begin to reap what they have sown—and they have nobody to blame but themselves.