Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Barbarians Inside The Gate

This American Thinker article is, I think, too optimistic:

Victory will make [the Democrats] feel better the same way that morphine eases a terminal patient’s pain. But like morphine, victory won’t change the long-term prognosis and it may even push the patient over the edge.

The Democrats’ life-threatening disease is a cancer of the left. Their core constituency consists of extremists who repel the overwhelming majority of American voters. Much as Democrats try to balance the game with hysterical assaults on “the religious right,” Republicans have no analogous political problem.

American politics has never been the battle between left an right that most observers imagine it to be. Ours was a liberal nation at its founding and it remains so today. No major political party has ever stepped out of that tradition toward the right. European blood and soil conservatism has no place here; our politics has no scary right wing, despite the fervid imaginations of some on the left.

But we do have a left wing which has rejected the American liberal tradition. In a bizarre example of newspeak we call the enthusiastic supporters of that wing “liberals.” They are, in fact, bitterly disappointed socialist/collectivists. The 20th Century put paid to their utopian dreams and left them with no positive vision to pursue. After Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, et al., collectivism just won’t sell in the U.S.

Unfortunately collectivists haven’t given up politics. Instead they use politics to commit cultural vandalism, doing what they can to destroy the civilization that spoiled their dream.

The real battle lines in American politics are drawn between the socialist vandals and people who see a fragile civilization under attack and try to defend it. The great bulk of the American electorate occupies the no man’s land between these camps and tries to avoid giving offense on either side. Americans value our civilization and its liberal tradition but most of them have no idea how fragile those things are and barely an inkling that they are under attack.

The Democrats are in an untenable political position because most of their votes come from Americans who want to protect and preserve our civilization, while their intellectual and financial support comes principally from people who want to destroy it. This coalition can’t last. The effort to keep all their constituent parts together has already twisted the Democrats into knots and their situation will only get worse.

Of course “liberals” don’t admit that they are trying to destroy civilization. This, however, is the only hypothesis that makes sense of their strange assortment of policy prescriptions both foreign and domestic.

On the domestic side, the left works tirelessly to promote the importation of Latin America’s corrupt, collectivist political culture through unrestrained immigration and lax enforcement of the rule that only citizens can vote. Leftists also work to expand the welfare state which enervates and infantilizes the electorate. Above all, they work to demolish the moral underpinnings of our freedom and prosperity.

Our civilization has succeeded in large part because Christianity got morality right, and the left has devoted itself to uprooting Christian morality. It has also devoted itself to separating Christianity from our public life. No civilization has ever survived cut off from its moral and spiritual traditions, but this doesn’t seem to bother the left.

Consider two principles grounded in Christian theology, central to our civilization’s success and under relentless attack from the left. First, the principle that God made us in his image and loves each of us individually. Second, Christian monogamy and the principle that our sexuality is good when, and only when, it serves the purpose of creating and sustaining families.

The first of these principles is the spring from which all human rights flow. It teaches us that humanity is inherently precious and that human life and dignity demand respect. The second stabilizes our civilization and directs it’s energies constructively. The left attacks them both in a number of ways.


At the same time they are kicking the props out from under civilization at home, leftists do whatever they can to empower the foreign enemies that want to destroy us. They carp about every use of military power and seek to constrain even gathering intelligence about developing terrorist threats. With the election of a new Congress they have begun talking about forcing a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq which would serve no purpose other than to secure an American defeat and a terrorist victory.

The left, in sum, has entered a tacit, mostly unconscious alliance with Islamic fascists for the purpose of destroying the individualistic and Christian civilization they both hate. This poses a problem for the United States. It creates a crisis for the Democrat Party.


The long leftist ascendancy has corresponded closely with a long decline in the party’s fortunes. The Democrats can only stay in the game at all because of their dominance of the old media bureaucracies, leaving many Americans so clueless about politics that they still haven’t figured out who herds the donkeys.

Maintaining this confusion is much easier when the Democrats are shut out of power and playing defense. In the majority they will have to go on offense which will clarify their public image. Clarity is not their friend.

As the Democrats return to power they will be confronted by the army of lobbyists representing left-wing interest groups. Every member of that army will be waving a sheaf of political IOU’s. The Democrats can’t pay any of them without handing Republicans a stout stick with which to beat them.

The Democrats’ most immediate problem is Iraq. Congress probably can’t force a retreat from Iraq, and if Pelosi and Co. try to do so they’ll pay a heavy price with sane voters of every political stripe for the effort. Very few Americans relish defeat. But if Democrats don’t at least try to engineer an American defeat in Iraq, their base will desert them in disgust.


Democrats are so deeply divided that nearly every issue is perilous for them. They will spend the next two years trying to tip-toe through a minefield. The surest bet in town is that they’ll step on a few mines.

In the long-term, Democrats have two options. They can put themselves in a position to compete in the political mainstream by purging the left or they can slowly dwindle away. A purge would cost them an election cycle or two. Without one they have no future.

Now and then they may have a good year, but even in a good year they remain on the road to oblivion as long as they’re in hock to the left.

If only it were so.

Kobayashi Maru (lots of links in the original):

And yet... am I the only one to feel strangely peaceful about it all? ...the only one to feel as though the fight--against foes both foreign and domestic--has shifted into an entirely different realm? A realm in which the answer is already determined... the victory already won but for a few years of unadulterated awfulness and apparent defeat? I'm outraged on one level yes, but not in my soul.

It's just an intuitive sense, but it seems as if something has been unleashed in the world in recent weeks--a flood-tide of forces previously held back. Most are congruent with the election in the sense (for example) of it having made even clearer the unholy dangerous philosophical alliance between radical Islamists and liberals as relativism excuses the former and empowers the latter.

Yet only a few of the examples I've mentioned can be said to have been directly caused by it (the election, that is). I refuse to go down the road of crying in my soup and demonizing Democrats. Many are lost, yes. The republic isn't... yet. I am not angry, only disappointed--resigned to something that feels more and more inevitable and in which the republic will be lost (along with many other things) but in the service of gaining eternity. The election is merely another aspect of a much much larger phenomenon.

Despite what some pundits are spinning about conservatism triumphant in a Democratic victory, I sense a weariness with the essence of conservatism itself, which as William F. Buckley famously put it over half a century ago is all about "standing athwart history yelling 'stop!'"

That stance gets tiring after awhile for both the metaphorical traffic cop ('stop'... no really, I mean 'stop'... trust me, I said 'stop' so you wouldn't get run over by that truck over there) and for those who would listen. It's exhausting to be constantly on the defensive, called to explain (as a remedial patch on a lack of historical education and perspective) why some hare-brained idea like socialized medicine or negotiating with Satan will not work.

In recent headlines I detect a weariness with war and with ideals formerly held dear that would set war in context, illustrating vividly that not all peaces are righteous and not wars are evil. (Ponder, for example, that both cops and criminals possess and use guns... that both Hitler and FDR fielded armies.)

I sense a weariness with truth and growing confusion about whether it is fixed (much less knowable)--an unmooring from anything but ourselves. (For a glimpse of faulty, self-referential assertion posing as reason in that vein, check out "Letter to a Christian Nation" whose author, Sam Harris, in a recent podcast I endured with morbid fascination, glibly echoes Elton's John's wish that religion--as Harris, John and others choose to define it for us--be put in a very small box indeed because it and its adherents are 'stupid' and dangerous. Encouragingly, we ought to recall that this is not a new impulse out of the world of the entertainment community--merely a blunter expression of a very old one.) As Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias notes, paraphrasing GK Chesterton: "meaninglessness ultimately comes not from being weary of pain but from being weary of pleasure".

(Zacharias' podcasts are now on my absolute must-listen list. Additional side note and subject for another post: for a fascinating and on-the-right-track--but still flawed--view into how the secular left views Islam, see this podcast talk by Salman Rushdie with an intro by Ibn Warraq).

And finally, I intuit in recent headlines a weariness with life itself. Sure, Michael J. Fox wishes to cling to his own life (including its quality). On one level that is totally understandable. It would be the rare individual who could say with honesty that they did not care if they lived or died or got sick or stayed well and that--given the opportunity--they would not switch sides on some moral questions that seem abundantly clear when one is not facing them. And yet the impulse to preserve one's own life at any costs comes with a much larger cost. We should not be surprised to discover this wisdom [here Kobayashi Maru links to Mt 16:25 "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."].

At a certain point, if your own culture keeps trying and trying and trying to commit suicide no matter what you do to stop it, what can you do? All you can do is let it. And follow God to the best of your ability. Which entails one-on-one charity and evangelization, with the results entirely up to God. If He has already decided to flush the apostate West down the drain, as He did with Israel in the Old Testament, then that's the deal we're going to get. Politics is not our route to salvation. Our route to salvation was spelled out 2,000 years ago, and there is nothing new under the sun. "Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all else will be given you besides."

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