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Friday, September 2, 2011

Perry, Social Issues, and Ideology

In our textbook, we discuss the meanings of conservatism and liberalism, including the intellectual tensions on each side. The Perry campaign provides a good illustration. The San Antonio Express-News reports:

Jerry Polinard, professor of political science at the University of Texas-Pan American, said such issues can raise questions, citing in particular the conservative backlash to Perry's vaccine proposal.

But he added, “Certainly he's not going to offend anyone in the conservative movement by arguing against gay marriage.”

He noted that Perry raised conservative concern by suggesting, in accordance with his states-rights views, that it was fine with him if New York legalized same-sex marriage. Perry later pledged support for a federal constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage.

“As a general stand, you oppose big government and government's intrusion into lives, except in specific issues, and these are the issues that they have picked,” Polinard said.

Debra Medina, who ran against Perry in last year's GOP primary in a campaign fueled by gatherings of the tea party movement, said bluntly: “He talks the limited government rhetoric and advances big government policy.”

Political scientists said it's the difference between being conservative and being libertarian.

“One can state broad overall philosophical goals and yet support various measures that at first glance seem inconsistent. Gov. Perry is not Ron Paul. He is a conservative, not a libertarian,” said Allan Saxe, associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at Arlington.

“Liberals seem to be much more for government intervention in the economic marketplace while conservatives seem to wish to back social legislation. ... Both liberals and conservatives are for government intervention — just depends upon where that intervention is to be placed,” he said. “And that is why libertarians take issue with both liberals and conservatives.”