Tag Archives: Politics

The Other Side is EVIL!

Living in Madison has brought home to me how fragile is the American body politic. People here assume, for example, that I don’t want to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding because I hate gay people. Those on the other side, assume that people who want me to bake the cake hate Christians.

Of course, I’m a priest and not a baker so the only cakes I bake are at home.

But disagreements about the prudence of public policies are taken as “proof” that the other side is evil. Living in a very socially and politically progressive city and writing for a conservative, free-market think tank has taught me the one thing that unites many people on both the Left and the Right is the frightening ease with which both assume the other side isn’t just wrong but evil.

And, of course, I see this tendency in myself.

Here’s what brought all this to mind (you can read the whole essay here):

The Democrats’ obsession with identity politics has colluded with Trump’s provocations to split Americans into polarized tribes—American versions of Croat and Serb, Hutu and Tutsi, Sunni and Shi’ite, Hindu and Muslim. There seems no way to stop this. An infection—a kind of Ebola—has gotten into the American body politic. It’s the old fable about the scorpion that persuades a frog to give him a ride across the river—and then, in midstream, stings the frog, dooming them both: “What did you expect? I’m a scorpion.” In the 2020 version, the frog is America and both political parties, alas, are scorpions.

Most of Life is Not Under My Control

Political decisions are rarely straightforward or simple. This seems especially to be the case in what National Review‘s Victor Davis Hanson calls our “Manichean” political age. He makes a point about Trump voters that I think has a broader importance for our political life. He writes:

…there are understandably legitimate differences in conservative attitudes toward Trump, the first U.S president without prior political or military experience and service. But should such acrimony extend to the Trump voter?

In attributing moral or ethical laxity to Trump voters, Never Trumpers sidestep the argument that in a Manichean world, not voting for Trump was a de facto vote for the alternative — a likely 16-year Obama-Clinton continuum. Is condoning Trump’s antics by default the moral equivalent of its practical antithesis: ensuring a Supreme Court, economy, and foreign policy that would, in conservatives’ views, radically injure millions of Americans for a generation?

If it were really unethical or foolhardy to vote for Trump, is it by extension far more unethical toserve Trump? In other words, are H. R. McMaster, Jim Mattis, John Kelly, Betsy DeVos, Nikki Haley, and Mike Pompeo far more morally suspect for empowering such a president, in a fashion that outweighs their principled notions of serving the country?

Is it still sustainable to suggest that Trump is not a conservative but a dangerous liberal or demagogic wolf in conservative sheep’s clothing? The doctrinaire conservative Heritage Foundation now claims that two-thirds of its proverbial 334 conservative agenda items have been already met by Trump — and at a pace far faster than that achieved even by former president Reagan.

Casting a vote means accepting trade-offs. Often this means tolerating policies or character traits that we find misguided, offensive or even evil.

In the face of this, I can decide not to vote. But not voting doesn’t exempt me from moral responsibility for the outcome of an election. Deciding to not decide is, after all, to still make a decision as youth ministers everywhere remind their young charges.

What I need to always keep in mind is that life is made up of many moving pieces, some of which are on fire, and most of which are not under my control.

It is this last point–that most of life isn’t under my control–that makes Christian witness in the Public Square complicated, often frustrating, controversial and deficient, but always interesting and challenging.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

For Consideration: Identity Politics and the Idea of the Common Good

Conservatives complain loudest about today’s campus follies, but it is really liberals who should be angry. The big story is not that leftist professors successfully turn millions of young people into dangerous political radicals every year. It is that they have gotten students so obsessed with their personal identities that, by the time they graduate, they have much less interest in, and even less engagement with, the wider political world outside their heads.

More: (WSJ) The Liberal Crackup

For Consideration: Dialogue in the Modern Liberal Democracy

… it does not require much effort to see that the dialogue in liberal democracy is of a peculiar kind because its aim is to maintain the domination of the mainstream and not to undermine it. A deliberation is believed to make sense only if the mainstream orthodoxy is sure to win politically. Today’s “dialogue” politics are a pure form of the right-is-might politics, cleverly concealed by the ostentatiously vacuous rhetoric of all-inclusiveness.
Ryszard Legutko, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies

Politics Won’t Save Us

Over at Fr Aidan Kimel’s blog Eclectic Orthodoxy, I have a post reflecting on how Orthodoxy Christians might want to respond to the recent presidential election. In the post I ask

How then are we as Orthodox Christians to live? How do we go about fostering “peace and co-operation among people holding various political views”? While the hierarchy and the clergy have a role here, this is primarily the vocation of Orthodox Christian laypeople in the Public Square.

Do take a moment and go over to Eclectic Orthodoxy and read what I wrote. If you are so moved, leave a comment. 

In Christ, 

Fr Gregory