Thanks to Body and Soul for pointing out a great post on Gary Hart’s weblog about Bobby Kennedy. It is so “right-on” that I just have to quote a large chunk of it here:
The subject comes to mind when “leaders” say: “I’m a fiscal conservative but a social liberal.” The only way that shibboleth makes any sense at all is if you define “social” as abortion, gun control, and prayer in schools. But we used to define “social” as the problems of our society–poverty, hunger, illiteracy, homelessness, joblessness, the lonely aged, and on and on. If you use the word “social” in this sense, the sense in which it traditionally is used, you cannot be “a fiscal conservative and a social liberal” for the very obvious reason that it costs some money to help those in need.
The political spectrum is pretty well defined by the orthodox Right on one end and “centrist” Democrats on the other. “Centrists” are particularly fond of the “fiscal conservative but social liberal” formula because it conveniently permits you to work both sides of the street without defining what you are for beyond “work, family, and responsibility.” (I’m still looking for someone against those things.)