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Are social conservatives turning against austerity?

A couple of years ago, I wrote an exposé of sorts about an organization called the Ruth Institute. As previously explained, the Ruth Institute is an arm of the National Organization for Marriage, the organization that funds campaigns against marriage equality and attempts to organize hilariously counterproductive boycotts of corporations that support equal rights. But while NOM's focus is more explicitly on halting the inevitable march of progress for the rights of the LGBT community, the Ruth Institute is more focused on the role of women in society, and how to convert that role into being baby factories in "cooperation" with the husbands to whom they are married. The ultimate objective of the Ruth Institute, after all, is to increase the birth rate so as to head off a theoretical "demographic winter"—an idea that, as previously explained, has foreboding overtones.

Because I view the Ruth Institute as an organization on the vanguard of promoting the most radical forms of social conservative thought, especially regarding the war on women currently being waged by Republicans and conservatives, I like to monitor their public communications to see what ideas or narratives the Christianist movement will promulgate next. In so doing, I saw the blog of the organization promote an article in the British newspaper The Telegraph that stressed the importance of increasing the birthrate so as to maintain the welfare state that will take care of Britain's graying population.

It is no surprise that the Ruth Institute would make hay out of an article calling for more babies: the ideology that desires to turn women into walking incubators is dependent on their being a population crisis whose solution is increased birthrates. What is interesting, however, is that the Ruth Institute cites commentary on the piece in The Telegraph. This commentary accepts as an uncontroversial fact that Britain's previous social welfare policies made it easier to afford to have children, but that the new austerity measures are a threat to that way of life:

However, Knowles mentions that in Britain, the outlook isn’t as bad as Germany and Italy as the British birthrate has actually increased over the last 15 years or so.  This, he says, is partly due to Governmental policies that made it cheaper for people to have children.  Now that austerity measures are coming into effect, it is becoming more expensive to have children:

“…[a]s the Institute for Fiscal Studies found in a study for Ed Balls, the average family will be £500 worse off as a result of the Chancellor’s changes to the tax and benefits systems. For people on low-to-middle incomes, having children is now a lot more expensive than it was.

The Republican Party's key to victory has been the unification of two groups whose values have, on the surface, little to do with each other: the social conservatives from organizations like the Ruth Institute, and austerity-loving fiscal conservatives who want to eliminate earned benefits from middle- and lower-income people to produce more private profits for the wealthy. The problem, as Ann Romney is demonstrating, is simple: the fiscal conservative agenda of austerity that seeks to reward the investor class above all others is fundamentally incompatible with the social conservative agenda that promotes the idea of having a bunch of children and making sure that parents have time and money to care for them and allow them to succeed in life.

If the Ruth Institute is beginning to pay attention to the economic realities of child-rearing and how governmental policy can have a profound influence in that arena, it could be a bad sign for the supply-side objectivists and the tax warriors in the fiscal conservative movement, and potentially lead to the revival of the uninhabited quadrant of the American political compass: people who are socially conservative but fiscally progressive because they want Americans to be able to have children without fainting at the prospect of paying for education or health insurance for them.

Mitt Romney ought to be worried about consolidating the social conservative vote in November. Not because he's a Mormon, and not because he has flip-flopped on abortion. A potentially bigger problem is that he, like his wife Ann, seems to love the fact that there are women out there who don't have a choice but to work to pay the bills and pull a second shift taking care of the kids at home. And that's one choice social conservatives do like.

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