Mid-term elections are officially upon us and with them comes a level of political discussion elevated and then elevated again. The commonly conceived of division in the Republican party between social conservatives (people of faith, the Value Voters Summit crowd) and fiscal conservatives (Tea Party people) has the chattering class in a virtual frenzy of discussion about religion and politics. When you combine that with the fact that three books on religion and politics have been recently released and widely touted, then you have got to believe there is a lot to talk about. Let’s start with…
We mentioned Damon Linker’s new book last week. Ramesh Ponnuru wisecracked and in so doing revealed the ultimate problem with Linker’s argument – he assumes religion is applied and used by people in a dogmatic and exacting fashion. Something that any person that has ever bothered with religion at all knows simply is not true. That does not; however, keep Al Mohler from being dogmatic about the whole thing.
Hugh Hewitt then introduces us to Wayne Grudem’s new book, “Politics According To The Bible.” My copy arrived moments before I sat down to write and I am staring at it as I write. Needless to say since all I have done is rifle through it and read the Table of Contents, any comment I would make is preliminary, but heck – here I go. I don’t like the title because there is so much the Bible does NOT say about politics – principles yes, but details not at all. So for example, the Bible does seem to work hard to allow and promote private property and private property rights. But from that principle to write a section called “What is the best cure for recession” strikes me as stretching a point just a bit. Indeed that principle should guide our thoughts on ending recession. But in order to adapt that private property principle to our current situation means looking at a lot of stuff in addition to the Bible. Therefore can Grudem’s conclusion on the best way to deal with recession really be called “biblical?”
From what I have seen to date I agree with Grudem on almost every conclusion he draws, but it strikes me that there is far more room to maneuver in reading the Bible than Grudem allows for, and by being as conclusive as he is, I think he may end up inflaming religious passions and adding to the already red hot political fires. Particularly when one considers that if you really do think that every conservative position is “biblical,” would that not mean that conservatism is indeed a form of “theocracy?” Would I like a country like Grudem seems to describe? Probably, but I would want it becasue everyone in it agreed – not because the Bible said so. Now that I have argued with it, I supposed I should read the book.
The Tea Party vs. The Value Voters Summit
Make no mistake, the divide that everyone is talking about exists, it’s like a hairline crack in the cement – who cares? THE LIBERAL PRESS, that’s who. They are trying to drive a wedge in it and pry it as wide as possible – it’s the only shot they got this time around.
And so, some say “GLENN BECK TRYING TO PUT TOO MUCH GOD INTO THE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT?” (HT: Instapundit) (Some think it is not just Beck) Some are saying not really enough. Some think social conservatives are our only hope. Some are clearly trying to distance themselves from a genuine run in 2012. Some are trying to drive agendas from left field.
The most interesting comment may be that Romney was the “real” winner at the VVS. He certainly does seem to stand as the best bridge between the two movements.
Bottom line is this – Even moderate Republicans are better than the bunch in power now, and most people on both sides of this minuscule divide understand that. Any disagreements on emphasis can wait until we have power. If we allow them to divide us before we have power the only thing we will have is the fight.
Obama and Religion
Even is f the scurrilous rumors that he is Muslim are dying down, lots of people seem to want to talk about his faith. He did fail to mention the Creator when citing the Declaration of Independence. This. of course, means he could be…secularist. Or is it Catholic? (I know some protestants that might claim there is no difference!) But I think Mitt Romney nailed it best:
Romney still sees an opening: “I think, however, that the American people have established a perspective on the President which is going to be lasting — that he has not understood the nature of America, in some respects, that the values I’ve described of love of liberty, of freedom, of opportunity, of small government — that those values he doesn’t share.”
Our values have a lot of sources – religion among them. But as I said earlier, there are many values religion does not address, or the application of which is far beyond religion. It is also possible for people to arrive at the same values through different paths and religions. What matters is the values and how an individual governs. In the end the rest of it is just speculation about motive.
Is religion losing its influence? Organized religion is losing it fast, but people remain “religious” in some non-institutional, not affiliated sense so the values remain largely the same. Shift? – yeah; Lose? – not so much.
Do the majority of Americans really support gay marriage? Not so much – the question is about Federal recognition of gay marriage. The federal government does not recognize opposite sex marriages yet – only the states. Lousy questions lead to lousy answers – first rule of polling.
So NOW We Get To The Candidates?
Well, yeah, the cycle does not start until after the midterms – we’re not there yet, but it is looking more and more like it.
Sarah Palin – K-Lo is now willing to bet she will run. Allahpundit agrees. Politico thinks she’s leaving the door open. As does Greg Sargent at WaPo. The Economist thinks the odds are good for her when she does run. Then there is this religious shot that is pure liberalism in religious disguise. But before we analyze this, let’s turn our attention to…
Haley Barbour – Concerning Barbour, Time magazine asks, “GOP Kingmaker or Candidate?”
Reasonable question that brings us back to Palin. What she is, definitively at the moment, is a, opinionshaper and leader. And she has proven quite successful in the role. A role which among other things is making her far more money than she could hope to make in actual office. And sometimes, like Barbour, to maintain that role, one has to appear to want another. Anybody can talk, but a candidate for the presidency, well when she talks, people listen. Just bear that in mind.
John Thune – has finally admitted publicly what we knew for quite a while. He’s likely to run. Reports – Politico – First Things – Taegan Goddard, and Instapundit makes a pun. Think 2012 (or beyond) dry run here.
Tim Pawlenty – out polls Obama in Minnesota. At the moment I think my cat might be able to.
Mike Pence – not anytime soon.
Mitt Romney – is really starting to act like a presidential candidate. He is giving the right speeches at the right places, saying the right things. Not to mention, the left is shooting at him with little tiny pebbles of pretentious rhetoric because they have no genuine ammo. The game is most definitely afoot.
A Final Word…
Facebook friends, blog hits, Twitter followers, web videos, and e-mail lists are all useful, but they’re all tools to the ultimate goal: votes.
If you volunteer for a candidate, the campaign may ask you to knock on doors, stuff envelopes, work phone banks, put out yard signs, and other traditional activities. And all of these acts have their place. But it’s commonly said that the average American sees 3,000 ads per day. By October, our mailboxes are full of mailers, our e-mailbox is full of spam, every commercial break is full of attack ads, and the sides of roads are cluttered with candidate signs. If you knock on my door, and I don’t know you, why should I listen to you? If you call out of the blue, why should I take time out of my day to listen?
If you’re reading this site or volunteering on a campaign, you are, by definition, not an average American. You’re much more knowledgeable and much more passionate about political issues. But we political junkies know lots of people who aren’t political junkies, who only begin thinking about politics in the fall of even-numbered years. I would urge conservative grassroots activists to focus less on attempting to persuade strangers — knocking on doors, handing out flyers, etc. — and instead focus on persuading people who know them already.
If you are not busy – get so – there is a lot at stake this fall and in 2012!