Worse still: Such a move would deny conservatives the opportunity to draw a connection between the unmooring of moral principle and America’s drift away from the ideas that animated the Founding.
Daniels concedes, for example, that “the breakdown of the traditional family over recent decades is a huge contributor to virtually every heartbreaking social pathology we face, and to economic difficulties.” Then is it really far-fetched to assert that the redefinition of the family, the flight from individual responsibility, and the preference for immediate gratification over self-control may be related to government’s inability to exercise fiscal restraint
And might it not be the case that the demand for entitlements will persist so long as Americans believe the purpose of government is to provide them stuff? Convincing voters otherwise will require more than charts and graphs. It will take a moral argument that relies on standards of right and wrong applicable, in Lincoln’s words, “to all men and all times”: that human beings are created equal, that governments are formed to secure the rights we possess in the state of nature, among them the right to life, liberty, and . . . you know the rest.
So, a social truce will not do. To the contrary: Perhaps it’s time to expand the definition of “social issues” to include fiscal and national-security matters that reflect the type of society in which we live. This is something Daniels clearly understands, since his call for the “social truce” hasn’t diminished his pro-life stance.
One can hope that the governor’s decision to abstain from the presidential race did not mark the end of his political career. Certainly every Republican now running would leap at the chance to have Gov. Mitch Daniels as his vice-presidential nominee. Think of how he’d crush Biden in debate. Think of all the good he could do in Washington. America still needs you, Mitch. Exitus in dubio est.
– Mr. Continetti is opinion editor of The Weekly Standard and author, most recently, of The Persecution of Sarah Palin.