Greta Christina tore apart the “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” cliche in magnificent depth:
You can’t separate fiscal issues from social issues. They’re deeply intertwined. They affect each other. Economic issues often are social issues. And conservative fiscal policies do enormous social harm. That’s true even for the mildest, most generous version of “fiscal conservatism” — low taxes, small government, reduced regulation, a free market. These policies perpetuate human rights abuses. They make life harder for people who already have hard lives. Even if the people supporting these policies don’t intend this, the policies are racist, sexist, classist (obviously), ableist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise socially retrograde. In many ways, they do more harm than so-called “social policies” that are supposedly separate from economic ones. Here are seven reasons that “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” is nonsense.
She analyzes the “fiscally conservative” influences on the following social issues:
1: Poverty, and the cycle of poverty.
2: Domestic violence, workplace harassment, and other abuse.
4: Racist policing.
5: Drug policy and prison policy.
7: “Free” trade.
She then concludes:
There are conservatives who will insist that this isn’t what “fiscally conservative” means. They’re not inherently opposed to government spending, they say. They’re just opposed to ineffective and wasteful government spending.
Bullshit. Do they really think progressives are in favor of wasteful and ineffective government? Do they think we’re saying, “Thumbs up to ineffective government spending! Let’s pour our government’s resources down a rat hole! Let’s spend our tax money giving every citizen a solid-gold tuba and a lifetime subscription to Cigar Aficionado!” This is an idealized, self-serving definition of “fiscally conservative,” defined by conservatives to make their position seem reasonable. It does not describe fiscal conservatism as it actually plays out in the United States. The reality of fiscal conservatism in the United States is not cautious, evidence-based attention to which government programs do and don’t work. If that were ever true in some misty nostalgic past, it hasn’t been true for a long, long time. The reality of fiscal conservatism in the United States means slashing government programs, even when they’ve been shown to work. The reality means decimating government regulations, even when they’ve been shown to improve people’s lives. The reality means cutting the safety net to ribbons, and letting big businesses do pretty much whatever they want.
I’ve been dying for someone (who wasn’t me) to write this piece. I keep hearing the phrase from other Millennials, especially recently, and it’s just so frustrating. Definitely you should read the full piece, as it goes into tremendous detail.