Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Conservative Manifesto

(Hat tip: Regular Guy Paul)

Yet another post from Matthew Patrick Archbold - a must-read from this past weekend:
... How could a "conservative" vote for Obama? Simply, he replaced one god with another.

Let me explain this rather cryptic statement. In order to explain it, I will use Christopher Buckley as an example, but he is by no means an isolated example. While others of the same ilk may not have gone so far as to vote for Obama, the problem is pervasive. Chris Buckley, after the election, gave an interview to a fawning New York Times.
As an only child, did you find one of your parents easier to talk to than the other? My mother. She got it. He often didn’t get it.

What didn’t he get? Religion.

He was a practicing Catholic. What are you? I am post-Catholic.

As opposed to a lapsed Catholic? I am probably more of a collapsed Catholic.

Do you believe in the afterlife? Alas, no...
That is what it comes down to I think. Men like William F. Buckley, like me, had a fundamental distrust of government. They also thought that free market capitalism as the best of the available -isms for generating prosperity for all. But, and this is a big but, they understood that these philosophies and viewpoints always needed to be tempered and informed by Christianity. Free market capitalism, untethered from Christian restraint, can be the source of as much evil as any other of the well known and pernicious -isms. Take your pick.

Christianity infused the political-economic outlook of these conservatives as much as the social issues are today obviously influenced by it. But somewhere along the line conservatives like Christopher Buckley lost faith in Christ. In the absence of the almighty, these post-Christian conservatives deified free-market capitalism. They traded one God for another.

Thus, conservatives split into two camps. The fiscal conservative, who worshiped capitalism, and the social conservative, who in their faith in God, found the most critical issues of the day the slaughter of the innocent. These two entities, joined under the banner of conservative, have had an uneasy and forced marriage. Cognizant that neither can survive electorally on its own, they have been wedded to each other for a generation.

But something happened this electoral cycle that may have forever altered and perhaps doomed this metaphorical marriage. The fiscal conservatives (and everyone else for that matter) found out their god of choice, untethered free-market capitalism, has feet made of clay. The fiscal conservatives can make the legitimate claim that government interference in the free market helped bring on this disaster, but that explanation only goes so far. What everyone sees now is the greed and excess of capitalism without Christianity. What the Christian ethic rightly decried as gluttony, was viewed by many conservatives as the ultimate virtue and attractively named competition. What we now through natural law was ignored as well, the hangover always follows the party. Unfortunately, this hangover occurred right in the middle of the election season giving us no time to sleep it off.

So now that their god has been revealed as a fraud, with their faith shaken, these fiscal conservatives are now free to apostatize. There were a few high profile defections such as Buckley which wounded, but it was the anonymous fiscal conservative who ultimately pulled the plug. They found no issue with voting for someone who believes that government is the answer to everything and higher taxes and wealth redistribution as goods in and of themselves. Apostasy complete.

Ironically, it was these very same "conservatives" who forced John McCain on the rest of a reluctant party in part because he did not wear his religion on his sleeve in the same way that Romney or Huckabee did . They wanted to distance themselves from the "religious right" in the party. Now, still stung with defeat, they want to pin the blame on, as one analyst called them, the God fearin' oogedy boogedy right. I can't take this point on at any length in this already lengthy post, but suffice it to say the religious right didn't have a dog in this fight.

So if the demise of a cohesive conservative movement was the result of the divorce between Christianity and conservative thought, what is the remedy? Marriage counseling? Yes, but with our pastor.

This is all a very long way of saying that the resurrection of the conservative movement, in my view, all depends on whether our Christianity can once again inform and guide our entire political outlook. If we continue in our unhappy marriage, where believers do social issues and non-believers the economic issues, we will continue to fail to persuade. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

[Read the whole thing]

Sorry I initially got the attribution wrong, Patrick. I've now corrected it.

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At 12/02/2008 4:39 PM, Anonymous Not Patrick said...

Matthew is way too dense to ever write something so perceptive and wise. Sure, he may write the occasional slightly amusing story about diapers or big gulp, but this type of deep thought is way above his pay grade.

This comment is definitely not written by Matthew's brother Patrick. I would never... I mean Patrick would never write such a thing about his own brother.

At 12/02/2008 11:46 PM, Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Are they two different guys?

They must be totally interchangeable.


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