While Merriam-Webster ignores social conservatism, social conservatism is also a part of the conservative spectrum. In a 2009 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum described conservatism as a three-legged stool. One leg being fiscal conservatism, the second being social conservatism and the third leg being national security conservatism. Recently, Melissa Clouthier in her Red State article illustrated that three-legged stool.
This three-legged stool is crucial in building consensus with individuals who share similar beliefs. With 2012 barrelling towards us, stopping the progressive agenda is paramount to reaching conservatives regardless of what sphere they are in. Here is why:
- True conservatives are automatically in and will vote to stop the progressive agenda no matter what. There vote is guaranteed against a Democrat and should continued to be engaged with candidates who are at minimum represent two out of the three spheres. True conservatives do prefer candidates who also are true conservatives.
- Fiscal conservatives represent the majority of the voting electorate and may include Libertarians, conservative Independents, as well as conservative Democrats. This group plays well with national security conservatives, but may not play well with social conservatives.
- Social Conservatives tend to be conservatives because they are passionate because of a single issue. This group because of their beliefs may also be true conservatives, but can be pro-life or pro-family fiscal conservatives or pro-life or pro-family national security conservatives. This group tends not to play well with fiscal conservatives, and may swing voters to other candidates because of its religious underpinnings.
- National Security conservatives represent those that believe in our military, and American exceptionalism of peace through strength. This group plays well with either fiscal and/or social conservatives.
As the graph shows, overlaps of the three facets of conservatism occur. When this happens, the strength of conservatism is increased as the person who shares at least two of the three legs, is more committed to conservatism. Do not be surprised if you have fiscal-social conservatives, fiscal-defense conservatives, or social-defense conservatives in the movement.