What message are voters trying to send here? Why would conservatives support a government-expanding, TARP supporting, serial hypocrite, Freddie Mac lobbyist and a disgraced former-Speaker lacking moral character whom most of America hates?
Is supporting war more important for evangelicals than their social values? Isn't Ron Paul a social conservative? He opposes abortion, gay marriage and promiscuous sex, he has never been divorced and certainly supports family values, but he believes in limited government. Two of his brothers are ministers. Why then are evangelical leaders now opting for Santorum, and before him Gingrich? The one big area of disagreement with Ron Paul is war; foreign wars and the domestic one against drugs. For this they oppose him. Santorum supports unending war in Afghanistan, backing Israel without limit and a new war against Iran.
Earlier there was a major far leftist candidate who supported all the issues that evangelicals oppose, and was a vocal proponent for expanding Israeli settlements on the West Bank and promoting the war on Iraq. He was overjoyed when open homosexuality became allowed in the military, he supports abortion, gay marriage and the leftist agenda for big, intrusive government; power to labor unions as well as expanded, unconstitutional police powers within the U.S. Evangelicals adore him and went all out to support him 2006, when he lost his primary race and ran as an independent for the Senate. He is Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.
All this shows how evangelical leaders put support for wars ahead of their social values. Their support includes every new law giving Washington ever greater police powers over American citizens, such as the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act and the recent National Defense Authorization Act which tear asunder much of the Bill of Rights. Most also supported torture of prisoners of war (with the notable exception of Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship). All this comes with their "social values."
You'd think the "family values" crowd would be um, you know, more conservative (as in "moderate; cautious") in regards to war, while abhorring state-sanctioned sexual assault absolutely ... but obviously, you'd think wrong.
During the Clinton years, we heard from evangelicals ad nauseum that character mattered. Well, here is Newt Gingrich, a man who was banging his campaign workers, demanding an "open marriage," and had the moral compass of a shark. This is the man evangelicals support? And then evangelicals wonder why people on the left see them as hypocrites and moral cowards.
So, the people who claim to follow Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, display their beliefs through candidates like Newt Gingrich. These are the people who jeered Ron Paul when he called for Americans to live by the Golden Rule that Christ Himself taught us. It is beyond me, and I have been part of the evangelical subculture for all of my life.
Yes, it's true. The largely Evangelical crowd last Monday night booed Matthew 7:12.
Although Paul's previous words that America was a nation of laws and that wars should only be fought with the consent of Congress (which is constitutionally mandated, as opposed to all the policing actions and wars that the U. S. has been involved in since World War II) got at least a scattering of applause, Gingrich triggered the nativist reactionaries in the crowd when he got on his professorial soapbox just seconds later. Calling up the spirit of President Andrew Jackson, who was wounded by a British sword during the Revolutionary War, Gingrich said that Jackson was reminded with a scar from that wounding of what to do with enemies. "Kill them," he said.
But booing the "Golden Rule?" How could the thought even be entertained? And this in the Bible Belt, no less, where treating one's neighbor with respect, good works, good Samaritanism, cordiality, and being charitable -- the teachings of Christ -- are all considered highly endemic to the culture.
This is the state of the modern conservative movement: non-thinking, non-substantive, reactionary, bellicose, exceptionally arrogant, ignorant, and vindictive ... And during the Republican debates, the atmosphere has grown hostile to anything and anyone speaking to compromise, diplomacy, and for the greater good.
Instead, those who speak of conciliatory measures and working toward the best solution are marked as "appeasers" and "traitors" to the cause of a more extreme type of conservatism. Intolerance of civil political discourse has become the rule of the day. Might makes right in foreign policy, and it is anathema to even suggest that the U. S. might be the aggressor nation. On domestic issues, do as one pleases as long as it does not displease those who have narrowly defined through their religious beliefs what one's freedoms are.
And if they are one's enemy, kill them.
Does that sound like Family Values ideals? Does that even remotely sound Christian, the religion of love thy brother and turn the other cheek? Does it in any way resemble the kinder, gentler social conservatism endorsed by many conservatives of the 80s? It does not, but it certainly sounds like the modern conservative movement.
Face it, Gingrich's popularity has been driven almost exclusively by tribalism and the politics of resentment.
Today's self-styled conservatives love Gingrich's willingness to seek confrontations. As Harold Wade, 85, said while leaving a polling place in Charleston, "I think we've reached a point where we need someone who's mean," and Mike Elliot notes at The Western Experience, "despite his baggage, his arrogance, and even his intelligence, he has 'guts' and this is what most South Carolina voters found very appealing."
Is the Bible Belt looking for a "strongman" ???
Have "preening gestures and blustery, talk-radio-ready self-righteousness" trumped the substance of liberty? Are today's "conservatives" united by nothing more than "hatred, bitterness, and resentment ... ?"
I don't know. I don't have the answers. But the trajectory of the movement is frightening indeed.
I haven't paid close attention to the news in recent months and I just assumed that some new Fox reality show was all the rage. So imagine my surprise at discovering that not only is Newt Gingrich running for president, he is also winning. While I find the prospect of a Gingrich presidency frightening at best, I would enjoy the intellectual gymnastics that right wing bloggers such as Glenn Reynolds (who has spent the last three years shrieking JIMMY CARTER!) and William Jacobson would be required to perform in order to justify the four year train wreck of a Gingrich administration.
The mental gymnastics required to support Republicans (in general) during my 43 years on earth, are simply mind-boggling. Shameful too. Because for all their talk of "taking over the party" and whatnot, nobody, and I mean nobody, rolls over faster (and more willingly) for the Establishment than "conservatives" do.
Why would the Republican Party bother running a "genuine conservative" when they know "conservatives" will support whomever they shove down their throats anyway? The Republican Party has no incentive to change whatsoever. Then again, it has become obvious that conservatives love the ever-expanding federal leviathan too.
Any who ... Newt Gingrich isn't going to be the President of the United States, after all, he's not even on the ballot in all 50 states. I just find the mass psychology behind supporting a man like Gingrich - the antithesis to everything the conservative movement (especially the Tea Party) claims to represent - to be an interesting story itself.
Envy to the left of us, resentment to the right ... May God have mercy on our undeserving souls.
H/T to Bill Anderson for title of post.