Matt picks up a drum I've been beating for a long time, which is "everything is culture war". There's a tendency in the mainstream media, which is encouraged by numerically small but well-funded and frankly deceitul "libertarians" to think there's some giant gap between "fiscal" and "social" conservatism. In theory, maybe (and mostly in the elite classes), but for the right wing base, that's largely absent. Matt cites a van he saw driving around that had slogans about the evils of abortion and slogans about the evils of government spending. He responds:
Abortion is, obviously, a very emotional and very ideological issue. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s a problem for the country when strong emotional and ideological views about abortion get intimately linked in people’s ideas with views about much more technical questions about the merits of raising the debt ceiling or whether we have too much inflation or too little.
Naturally, I do think there's something wrong with abortion—which is, as I've said a million times before, a stand in for a host of beliefs about sex and women's role in life—being so emotional. I think we'd be a far greater country if people could step off and butt out of other people's consensual sexual behavior and their often incredibly personal choices about love, marriage, and child-bearing. But all that aside, I think this is a good place to point out that while most of us think of "economic" and "social" issues as divergent, they really aren't.
I'm going to point out that the truck in question here specifically singles out black women who have abortions as bad people.
The reason I'm going to do so is to point out that in the right wing mind, these are all intertwined things. The right wing story is basically that this country is going to hell because people have abandoned traditional values, and now they're fucking in the streets and that the hard-working white man has to pay for all this bad behavior with his tax dollars. Women's sexual choices are blamed for a lot—I'd guess that your average right wing nut thinks that spending on welfare is about half the federal budget. This is blamed predominantly on women's inability to control their sexual urges. Black women are especially held out as living lacivious lifestyles that the taxpayer is on the hook for. I think Dana Loesch's rant at CPAC really boils down the argument:
But you’re not empowered when you’re expecting Uncle Sam to act like your sugar daddy, and take care of your abortions and take care of your birth control, and pay your bills and everything else?
Preventing a pregnancy, having an abortion, and bearing children out of wedlock are all blurred together in the right wing mind as evidence of women's bad behavior that they're subsidizing with their tax dollars, and the debt ceiling gets all caught up in that. So these aren't separate issues in their minds at all. The assumption is, from what I can tell, that the government needs to "crack down" and stop borrowing money, and throw all those sluts on the street. And then what will happen is said sluts will stop fucking, get married, and have a husband to support them and this country will return to the 1950s….and the prosperity of it.
I know that doesn't make a lot of sense if you see social policy and economic policy as different things—and god knows that a sensible approach does call for such a distinction—but for a lot of average voters, the most obvious change from the prosperous 50s to now isn't hard-to-understand economic policies. Most people have no idea what the tax rate was in 1953, for instance. But they definitely know how much sexual and gender mores changed, and the most obvious change becomes the scapegoat for all other problems.