Essay / Politics

A Fond Farewell to Mr. Sullivan

Winston Churchill once noted that people were always threatening to resign from government positions. The real danger to them was someone might let them do it. Out of government they quickly discover that they are not nearly as important as when they were in it.Andrew Sullivan is one of the left’s favorite conservatives. He is a fine writer and fairly well read. He often takes unpredictable positions which makes for fine television and passes for intellectual depth in our era. We don’t like people with firm convictions that govern their decision making. This is “predictable” and makes for bad television. Sullivan appears to be thinking when he decides to vote for Kerry instead of Bush. Of course, it may simply be a sign of a mind driven by passion and not reason. A man with a well thought out world view can be relied on. A man whose main object is to protect his own pleasures (whatever they might be) cannot.George Bush was just re-elected President of the United States. He was elected without the help of Andrew Sullivan, indeed with his opposition. That is why I am amused by recent over heated blogging from Mr. Sullivan that the “religious right” is about to destroy the Republican Party.Let us grant that polls are correct (though the last election should have given us a bit of concern about the accuracy of polls) and that the Republicans have taken an “extreme” position on the Schiavo case. Let us even assume that most voters, indeed seventy percent of voters disagree with Republicans. So what? A third of voters, those who agree and care very deeply about the issue, are now Republicans for life. One has to guess that another third of voters don’t deeply care about the issue one way or another. The rest, the iron clad Democrat vote, were never going to vote Republican in any case. Most of the shrill voices protesting the “religious right” are from that group.People who don’t like the “religious right” (which now includes the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Pope, and Billy Graham) are never going to like the Republican Party. However, most Americans are not keen for abortion and don’t like watching Schaivo die. My guess is that a fair number wish it would go away so they could just stop being made uncomfortable by it. I cannot believe it will be a “voting” issue for most of the “majority.” Like abortion, a large number of Americans have not thought out their position and live with ambiguity. They don’t favor anyone who makes them think about the issue. Mostly, they wish to be left alone to muddle along.I don’t like that, but it does mean that it is not a passionate (or voting) issue for them. A few letters to a blogger (“I will never vote for Bush again!”) mean nothing. We are years from the next election. Will most of the seventy percent really refuse to vote for the Republican nominee (who will not be George Bush) over this issue? I don’t believe it. I didn’t believe it when Sullivan said that cultural issues would hurt Republicans in the last election. He was wrong then and he is wrong now.I think it safer to say that those who really care (the thirty percent) will once again do the back breaking work of running precincts, going out the vote, and keeping the party going. They will remember and appreciate the Party taking a stand. The culture of death crowd will do the same for the Democrats. The good news is that there are more of us than there is of them and we have children. Meanwhile, the vanishingly small number of “religious” party-animal Republicans will go on getting media attention, because though there are not very many of them, they are odd. They film well, like Wonkette, only conservative.My favorite of this type is the “Easter/Christmas” Christian who is very “religious” just about the time they want to beat up on traditional Christians. Of course, their religion informs none of their decisions. Cafeteria Catholics, ethnic Orthodox, or make it up as they go Protestants, these folk have no time for doctrine, what the Bible actually teaches, or allowing their faith to change their favorite behaviors (read sins).They are secularists every week day, but have fond feelings about the whole Christian thing. It is a private faith, but sadly for them one not recognized by the Pope, the Ecumenical Patriarch, or Billy Graham. That leaves us with sorry conclusion that they are not Christian whatever else they might be. Of course, they have every right to their sorry world view. They have the right to irrationally go on trying to make themselves happy by their embrace of the culture of death and by unnatural behavior. No person intends to stop them from committing cultural suicide. However, they must not anticipate our joining them or worrying to much if they decide our disapproval makes them want to take their toys and go home.I am sorry to see them go. The party is, after all, not a church. However, I am not sure that a disgruntled Andrew Sullivan united with the Rockefeller Republicans, like his electorally impotent Christie Todd Whitman (run her in the primaries Andrew!), will do us much harm. We might never carry Massachusetts, but Sullivan and Whitman will never carry Florida.Religious traditionalists cannot win by themselves. However, we plainly do not need the help of those Republicans like Sullivan, since those folk left last election. Instead, if we continue to grow amongst traditional Catholic Democrats, pro-life African-Americans, and Hispanics not eager to join with the party-animal Republicans, we have a pretty safe (and pro-creating!) sixty percent of the vote. We need right-of-center Americans (read parents) to unite and agree to disagree. Traditional Christians don’t like the Schaivo outcome, but we are living by the rule of law. Our right of center allies will appreciate that and move forward with us.I am (at least) a sixth generation Republican. I don’t need Andrew Sullivan to tell me what a conservative is. I believe in a role for tradition like Burke, heeding the wisdom of the past like Chesterton, that our rights come from the Creator like the Founding Fathers, and in a higher moral calling for our nation like Lincoln. I believe that man was created in the image of God as taught in the Bible and that a nation should err on the side of life like President Bush. I believe in the rule of law, but a law limited by the Law of Nature and Nature’s God, like John Locke. I recognize the limited promise of government in this age and view a theocracy as wicked like Augustine, Dante, and Calvin. However, I more deeply fear godless secularism seizing our state and bring on a reign of terror as it always does, just like Ronald Reagan.If Andrew Sullivan wants to abandon those ideas and those men, then he is welcome to do so. We will be waiting to welcome him home whenever he desires to return.

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