Monday, January 14, 2019

Confused by politics. . .

I was a radical conservative, or so I thought, when I was a child.  My political career began in 1964 by plastering Goldwater stickers on cars parked on the main drag in my small town -- mostly to the chagrin of those who owned the cars.  I was forced to be apologetic but I was unrepentant for my actions.  In the end I found myself confused by conservatives who were conservative economically but not uniformly conservative in other ways.  I am not a libertarian.  I am a fiscal and a moral conservative and that means treading where libertarians choose not to go.  I do not believe the government is a substitute for religion in the cause of morality but I do believe that government should praise virtue and punish wrong.  I think my rebellious years came to rather quick halt in college when abortion was legalized and I had to come to grips with the idea that certain kinds of murder was not only legally tolerated but heralded by some, perhaps even many, in our land.  I will credit abortion for being the social issue that crystallized my evolution from being an economic conservative to a social conservative.  Because of this, I am seen by some of my old friends as a regressive soul in comparison to their progressive development into democratic socialists.  They remain sometimes open and painful wounds of division.

Though I was neither a never Trumper or a Trumper forever individual, and still am not, I do understand his appeal.  It is not as some in the left would characterize it.  It is not a resurgence of prejudice, racism, misogyny, fascism, or any form of totalitarianism.  It is the fact that many have awoken to find that the values of family, truth, justice, and life have faded from the scene to be replaced by other values that seem foreign to them.  Individual expression, personal happiness/fulfillment, diversity, advocacy, and self-definition (even of gender) have eclipsed the values of personal responsibility, common sacrifice, religion, and tradition.  These last two election cycles have shown the great divide between urban/suburban and rural, between progressive and traditional, between religious and not so, between the college educated and the working class (is there still such a thing?). . .  Some believe that this transcendence is inevitable and that those hold outs are relics of a long past era.  I don't think so.  I know that those who survey what passes as progress are not ready to say that they are merely hold outs.

Furthermore, I do not believe that our move from religion with a more commonly held system of values and truth is unrelated to the coarseness of our vocabulary, the vulgarity that passes as art and media, and the divisions that distance us from one another.  I am not at all saying that a religious revival would solve our problems in this regard but I do think that having a common value system and set of truths did much to prevent some of those ills that now befuddle our political, religious, and social leaders.  Social media has not made for more pleasant conversation about the things that divide us but seems to have entrenched the sides and embittered them even more.  The pace of change is too rapid for us to assimilate without casualties -- thinking here of technological, moral, and social change!  At least some of those who commit heinous violence appeared to have been ordinary folks until something clicked in them.  Not all of this can be attributed to a lunatic fringe or haters.

So in one sense I think Trump has brought this growing divide front and center.  Now it is up to us to decide what to do about it, who we are as a nation, and what are the primary and core values that unite us as a people in this place.  I am not sure we are yet having this conversation but it needs to begin soon.  It won't be satisfied by tweets -- no matter who the tweeter is -- and it cannot be said by proxies or substitutes.  It has to take place in honest, local conversation before it happens on the national scene.  Conservatives like me cannot simply dismiss the media, the elites across the land, and the liberals and they cannot cannot simply dismiss me and folks like me.  I wish I could say I was hopeful.  Honestly, things were easier when I was a child but now that I have a grandchild it does not matter how hard it is, the conversation has to begin or her world will be colored by even more of what none of us wants.

1 comment: said...

Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.