Monday, April 25, 2005

American Conservatism: A Beautiful Failure

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"The Double-Edged Sword Of Party Politics" by, Jeremiah Bannister

All of the comments here are fair. Sure, Buchannan understands the "game" of politics better than many of us who spew our thoughts on blogs. Has he lost credibility? You bet he has! With the establishment? You bet! Would it be politically wise or prudent for him to full out endorse, or run for that matter, on a third party platform? (Must we be reminded that Howard Phillips founded the Constitution Party in part for Mr. Buchannan to run with?) That would be a nail in his coffin. In a coffin it is still better to speak from above ground than 6-feet-deep.

The crux of the matter here that would be worthy of further consideration is that of Conservatives relationship to any political party. In my estimation it is a two edged sword. If you stand outside off of the dance floor you may not be asked to dance. Yet if you go and dance alone (or act as if you are dancing with another) you may look like the village idiot. When an ideology (and one as difficult to define as it is to unite) lays to rest in a Party that is not defined by its ideas, values, or existence then what seems to be the case (as far as history may reveal) is that the ideology and its constituency become tools of the organization or party. The black democrats and Christian right republicans are classic examples of such constituencies. The conservative movement seems to also have fallen victim to this tendency.

Another case in point, as ironic as it is appropriate, is Pat Buchannan. He has been ignored, smothered, ridiculed, mocked, and left out to dry by the Republican Party. The same of course could be said about his policies! Yet he returns to the hand that beats him! Listening to him and others that speak so publicly about their hatred for the administration and what they are doing to America reminds me of women with “battered wife syndrome.” These women call 911 begging the police to save them from their husbands and when the authorities arrive they start assaulting them insisting, “That is my husband; get your hands off of him! I love my husband, he really didn’t mean it. He can change.” This sort of reaction is as predictable as it is sad. The same can be said of Conservatives and Party politics.

So whether we stay or go both have their sting. The answer may best be found by reviewing the progress (whether in policy or restraint on radical leftist policies) since our formal founding. Those who have stayed are ignored. Those who leave are marginalized (at least those who run to third parties). Either way we have been ignored for a long, long time. Maybe we ought to take a cue from the Neoconservatives who abandoned their party and soon afterward found prominence in Administrations? Maybe a case should be made for abstention? Any way we go, maybe those in Cardinal College can assist us in finding a conclusion.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Christian America: Red vs. Blue?

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In a recent article by Vice President of Government and Public Policy for Focus on the Family Tom Minnery gives a very misleading idea as to the present condition of our nation. In Our Befuddling Nation (Final Word, Citizen Magazine, May 2005) he writes concerning both Alex de Tocqueville's 1835 verdict (Democracy in America) on the reasons for American "Exceptionalism" and a present day book attempting to figure out the same thing. The book under review is "The Right Nation" written by British authors John Mickelthwait and Adrian Wooldridge, both of them journalists for the The Economist magazine. Their conclusion resembled that of de Tocqueville: America's Christian religious influence is its primary reason for being "exceptional."

The problem arises when Tom Minnery, and the authors for that matter, deduces the issue to red vs. blue politics. My beef here is not with the British secularists (although I do disagree with their assessment of both the health of American Christianity and its influence on Public Policy) but with Tom Minnery. Rather than admitting the pathetic (apathetic) condition of American Christianity and its lack of any significant political advancements he goes into applause and ends his piece saying that their conclusions are, "a source of encouragement."

So where does he get his source of encouragement? Is it the condition of our Church? Highly doubt it. We have homosexual marriage on the rise, pedophile priests being punished with a "transfer," PC seeker-sensitivity preaching, segregated Churches, rampant denominationalism, theological ignorance, seminary liberalism, and a divorce rate higher than the outside world! Are these the marks of a Christian nation? This is not the Christianity of de Tocqueville’s 1830's. This is nothing more than secularism wrapped in the swaddling clothes of Christian ritual and symbolism.

Is his reason for encouragement the political influence of the Church? Probably not. Unless you are in agreement with Mr. Minnery that the Christian/non-Christian politic is as clean cut as red and blue. I myself am not a subscriber to that notion. I do not believe that Christianity is, or should be, as simple as red vs. blue. Yet to these men, Mr. Minnery included, this die-hard alliance to party politics is a quality worthy of exceptionalism. If Christians getting nominal Christians and secular "moderates" into office year in and year out, all the while losing both in policy formulation and law, is an "encouragement" then I would hate to know what would be the cause of discouragement!

Does Mr. Minnery believe that it is our influence over public policy? Let us do a quick review. Prayer is out. Evolution is in. Federal spending is at an all time high. Federal debt is beyond comprehension! Abortion is still over 4,000 daily. Euthanasia is making strides against some so-called "culture of life." Federally funded embryonic stem cell research is supported overwhelmingly by many of those we have put into office. We have a tyrannical level of taxation. Just War theory has been replaced by pre-emptive violence in pursuit of some global democratic revolution. We have no fixed standard for our currency. Every day we are being subjected to the rulings of unknown bureaucrats in the UN, WTO, World Banks, and others. There is no longer any fixed standard of law and justice due to the fact that precedent rules the day and setting precedent is the trend. The list could go on and on and on.

The sad fact is that Minnery knows all of this! But instead of dealing with the fact that what goes for Christian political theory is little more than the secular, conventional wisdom of the Republican Party he chooses to applaud this assessment as some kind of personal confirmation. This comes as no surprise to me or anyone else who has not yet become drunk off of the Partisan wine. Maybe one day our espoused Christian leaders will stop patting themselves on the back for "accomplishments" and begin the ever so needed reconstruction of the Church and its influence over public policy with a distinctively Christian social theory.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Madness Of Our Times

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Statism reveals a lot about a society that claims to desire "freedom."

War reveals a lot about a Religion which claims to spread peace and freedom through the gospel.

Advocating Secular Democracy (or Democracy alone for that matter!) reveals a lot about those who claim to believe in Original Sin.

Religious zeal for Secular Imperialism reveals a lot about a faith that claims to fear a New World Order.

It also reveals the lack of conviction we seem to have concerning Christ's Biblical Theocratic Kingdom being only political system that will bring world freedom, prosperity, order and justice.

All in all it would seem that current realities reveal a lot about our faith and Nation's internal schizophrenia. What a strange and peculiar people we are indeed.


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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Clarifying My Comments

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After having written my last post I felt the need to clarify a few of my thoughts before people were up in arms. First of all, although I am an opponent of the party system this does not mean that I discourage people from supporting local, state, and national candidates that are members of political parties. I myself was a delegate at the Constitution Party this past election year. I chose to refrain from support of the President on moral grounds. It was a matter of conscience for me and I do not regret my actions. Mr. Peroutka is a wonderful man and the vast majority of CP members are God fearing constitutionalists.

This having been said, I would have voted for him if he was running as a Republican. It was not a matter of party (at least not entirely), rather, it was a matter of the man I felt best fit the need of America. Had he run as a Democrat I would still have voted for him (as I voted for a Democrat on the local level). Once again, it was not strictly a matter of party affiliation. It was a matter of conscience and my conviction that he was the best man fit for the job regardless of the odds of his victory.

Do I believe that it is wrong to be a member of the GOP or the CP? No. Rather, I am not sure, in historical hindsight, that it has been advantageous to the Christian cause of Reconstructive social change to be a member of a political party.

If you are a Republican you may have the odds in your favor for electoral victory but the odds of any real Christian change happening through that party are slim. Ask yourself how many times we have heard Republicans give the same old promises over and over and never follow through. Worse would be the fact that the Christian constituency is the primary reason for Republican dominance and yet they have become like the blacks of the Democrat party; a default constituency. This being said, the 3rd party advocate must admit that the odds of social change are greater from within the Republican party than it is outside the party due to the fact that they at least have a shooting chance of getting into office.

If you are a CP member you may have a great platform but the odds of you having any real impact on national politics (the local odds are much greater obviously) in a two-party environment is about as probable as finding aliens on Plato enjoying a round of Five-Card-Draw. There is also the fact that in the present system you would be seen as a fringe group only to be discarded. This has happened to many a great mind in this party. Only if you were to persuade the people of America that the two-party system (or the party system as a whole for that matter) is dangerous for the Republic and the end of truly representative government will you see any significant change. We could debate the validity of this claim for some time but history is my vindicator.

So I conclude that, at present, party politics may have to be a reality we must deal with. Questions immediately arising are whether one should rely on integrity or pragmatism in deciding which party to work within and to what degree one should commit oneself to that party. These are all questions to be dealt with in future posts but I felt that it was necessary for me to at least clarify my statement(s).

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Monday, April 04, 2005

Party Politics and the Christian Ghetto

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I read Angela Wittman’s piece today entitled, “Why I am a Christian Independent” and came away from it so encouraged. I would advise everyone to check out her website and read what she had to say.

For myself, I proudly bear the same title. I have for quite some time advocated what I call (although I presume that there have been others who have advocated such a system although I have not read any of their material nor do I believe any to be of any real significance) an “Open Party System.” In upcoming days I will post some of the articles and letters that I had written during this past Presidential Election campaign regarding this system.

Although I am strongly opposed to political sects in general I assume that, at least for now, they are an evil to be dealt with. It is my conviction that Christians ought to keep themselves from any permanent (including the GOP and the Constitution Party) political party affiliation and membership. I believe for many reasons that such action by the Christian Electorate within a Party System has resulted in a Christian special interest ghetto. It is my belief that if Christians would like to regain some form of political relevance and be seen as more than a special interest group to be coddled with religious rhetoric every election year then we may want to reconsider our position on the issue of Party Politics and its affect on Christian social change.

Although I accept the Party System as a reality to be dealt with I do not concede that it is a system that must be embraced with blind commitment and partisan zeal. While I see some (and I admit this with much regret) advantages to such a system I do not believe it to be in the best interest for true “representative government” or the “free marketplace of ideas.” I mention the latter because it is here and here alone, outside of a violent revolution, that we will see any advancement of Christian Reconstruction.

Personally, I believe that one may participate in party politics (for to not do so would cause one to become socially irrelevant) without being chained down by partisanship or groupthink. This “use” of the Party system would deny the Sect the power of ownership and obligation all the while giving the electorate the political “weight” by which to hold individual politicians accountable for their actions regardless of their political affiliation. Only once we understand this will we regain the power of political influence...

Much more will be written on the issues of the “Party Politics and the Psychology of the Electorate,” “Party Politics influence on Christian Social Theory,” and “Party Politics and Political Irrelevancy” in the upcoming days…

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