The ‘Baby Cons’

The young man announced that he was conservative. And sure enough, he was for all the conservative issues: a free market, low taxes, welfare reform. But then one day he started dating someone he had met at work: a very attractive teenage . . . boy. Yes, the young conservative was gay. This story really happened, and according to John Miller in Diversity magazine, it's not unusual. Today's young adults are growing up in a liberal society. Often they get involved in sex and drugs long before they're old enough to be thinking about a personal life philosophy. Later, when they do find a personal philosophy that's more traditional, their new values wage a lively battle with their old habits. "Contrary to all the fuss about America's cultural war," Miller explains, "the most crucial battles were fought and lost in the 1960s." Today's young conservatives grew up when sleeping around was no longer a sign of rebellion. It was the accepted norm. Using drugs was no longer a means of expanding consciousness. It was simple recreation. Relativism wasn't an abstract moral theory. It was the unquestioned assumption in most classroom instruction. Young conservatives—or "baby cons," as one writer calls them—have been hard-wired as social liberals. On economic issues it seems everyone today recognizes the dark side of the welfare state. Many young people are embracing the concepts of a limited government and a free-market economy. But when it comes to social issues, they are much more ambivalent. And so the editor of a conservative student newspaper may moralize about teenage pregnancy—but then sleep with his girlfriend. A young Republican may rail against rampant drug use—then smoke pot with her dormitory friends. Poll data show the same ambivalence. Many self-described young conservatives favor abortion, gay rights, drug legalization, and pornography—to name just a few. And it's not just the baby-cons either. The idea is spreading across all age groups that you can be a political and economic conservative and at the same time a social liberal. This is an idea Christians need to nip in the bud—and fast. The truth is that a society that is socially liberal eventually loses its political and economic liberty. A society that smiles on sexual relations outside marriage undermines the institution of the family. And family breakdown contributes to increases in depression, health problems, school failure, drug use, crime—virtually every kind of social pathology. When that happens, government feels called upon to expand its services—more welfare, more crime control, more social services. And as government acquires more functions, it exerts more control over its citizens. As it runs up higher operating costs, it digs deeper into your pocketbook. In short: Less liberty, higher taxes. This is the connection we need to help "baby-cons"—and other social liberals—to grasp. The loss of personal virtue always leads to an erosion of political and economic liberty. For when people do not exercise internal controls, the government will impose external controls—while asking all of us to foot the bill.


Chuck Colson



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