To the Raleigh Tavern
Revised December 1999
"Say Son, the Battle's not over
The Battle has hardly begun!"
Johnny Cash, "The Battle"
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|II.||Winning the Presidency|
|III.||The Failure of the Faithful and the Leaderless Leaders|
|V.||The Far Future and Its Relevance|
|VI.||The Politics of the Womb|
|B: Related Issues: Motherhood and Population|
|VII.||Issues Beyond Republican and Democrat|
|A: The Cultural War|
|B: God, the Nation, and the Republican Party|
|VIII.||A Lesson from Canada|
|IX.||What is to be Done?|
The Present Battle and the Future
This paper is not directly about the most important things in life. As Irving Kristol relates in his Two Cheers for Capitalism, three cheers are reserved for one's family and friends, God, Church or Synagogue, romance, love, dogs (cats?), and people tending their gardens, i.e., those things which are much more the fabric of life than an economic doctrine, political belief, or even a religious creed. But inevitably the former are affected by the latter, which provide the glue, the social bonds, which hold them all together within a "knitted whole."
These social bonds and the vision of life and existence both creating and flowing from them have begun to suffer greatly. In fact, my original paper was going to be on "The Crisis of the West," its roots and possible avenues out of the crisis. But as the work reached Tome proportions (so many theoretical questions on the status of the individual, individuality, and community, etc.), I decided to spare us all until later years and quite frankly, I wanted to address more immediate questions. I wish, however, to retain this statement from Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin's The Crisis of Our Age: "We are in the midst of a civilization crisis, which comes along every 1000 years. It is a poor doctor who treats dangerous pneumonia as a slight cold." And indeed I believe we are suffering from such a cultural pneumonia. Whether one believes in the depth of this crisis is in fact a key to the political strategy one adopts at the present moment. If you feel that our economic prosperity is the primary "story" of our times - and indeed American economic performance in the midst of a world economic downturn is really a remarkable testament to American inventiveness and entrepreneurship - you will probably favor a more politics-as-usual approach instead of the strategy I will be proposing here. I used to tell my political philosophy classes that one thing we wished to ascertain was "What time is it?"1 If you disagree with my reading of the clock, you will also probably disagree with my departure schedule. While not being able to probe the deeper crisis here, 2 I would hope to acquaint you with certain political realities of the moment and the inner resonance of certain issues and the political consequences flowing from them. I will again not directly be addressing the most important things in life, but I will at the proper time address the deeper question of life itself and of the loss of the supportive milieu surrounding the living of our lives.
The point of this paper is that there are deeper and more fundamental differences than those between Democrat and Republican and that these differences have political ramifications that are not now being addressed by the dominant leaders of the Republican Party. For instance, an oft-noted grassroots Republican concern about multiculturalism and political correctness is something the party leaders, candidates, and elites do not intend to do anything about because of the fears of being called racist, the difficulty of preparing for the fight, and really not having the foggiest notion of how to proceed if they ever did decide to "really" attempt to understand its seriousness.
On the more personal side of the question, I hope to demonstrate that differences between Republican elites and many of the rank and file are so important as to be perceived as a sellout of the latter by the former. However, I wish to place much of the reason for that on the leaders of the movements containing many of these grassroots members - the Conservative movement in general, and certain Christian and pro-life organizations in particular.
I also want to focus a bit on the future. Any party or movement who loses sight of the future is not prepared to see the full dimensions of the fights of the present. I will briefly address what I believe to be critical issues of the near and far future that rest on the proper resolution of current problems so that we may more closely see what is at stake in the present.
The styles of the various elements involved in the present battle are not new, but the factors are complicated by the perceived importance across all factions of the 2000 presidential race. As such, one added complication is the division among "the faithful" themselves. Of necessity then I shall sometimes be carrying on two one-sided conversations: one with my fellow Christians and their allies - i.e., "the faithful," and another with leading candidates and party leaders. Still, the combatants are but a subset, but a very important subset of two basic types of people involved in political parties since time immemorial, though the percentage of each type varies over time, with different conceptions of victory generally held by each type.
As I have written in a 1981 textbook article on the Republican Party of Texas, these two types of engagees combine "differences" of political approach, social class, and personal style that professor James Q. Wilson has designated as "amateur" and "professional." Wilson defines an amateur as someone "who finds politics intrinsically interesting - sees the political world more in terms of ideas and principles - has a 'natural' response to politics, sees each battle as a crisis, each victory as a triumph, and each loss as a defeat for a cause." The amateur is an issue-oriented activist who makes the support of party candidates contingent on their perceived ideological soundness. In contrast, the professional is party and prestige oriented, interested primarily in winning elections, and concerned not with taking public stands on controversial issues but with the necessity of compromising issues to the party's electoral advantage. Both types are needed but will always be in a state of tension with one another and each should be true to itself in order for communications between the two to be properly interpreted.
Now as then, I am an unabashed though informed and experienced amateur. At present the amateurs are primarily the social conservatives, and especially the religious conservatives and pro-lifers. One of my concerns is those people who have deserted their "amateur" status to sup at the professionals' table as well-regarded pimps of the party leaders, and in so doing have failed both their own followers and the party leaders. Thus, I wish to warn and save my brethren from a possible fall, to teach them to empower themselves as a Gideon's band, and to rally their hearts for battle. But I do not wish to neglect the candidates and party leaders themselves, especially concerning the power of the moral issues they tend to run from, and to show them how their meaning of the term victory can be achieved when one courageously but astutely does the "right thing." The sides must be honest with each other. There must not be no dangerous game of pretending that these questions are not of the utmost importance, dealing as they do not just with movements, parties, or even nations, but with the human future itself.
The events and consequences of the next few years (1999-2004) will be internally momentous for the Republican Party and decisive for its future. A myriad of different signals sent by the leaders of the various movements close to the Republican Party have created unnecessary confusion among both party candidates and leaders and among their own members just at a time certain issues have their greatest political potential and when this importance has never been more deeply felt by the grassroots of these movements. It is very important that candidates and leaders of the party not be misled by the actions of a few publicized leaders or by their own wishes. If they confuse these wishes with reality, they will pay a very high price indeed. Certain elements of the party and certain groups previously attracted to the party (Reagan Democrats) have felt neglected since 1988. They are tired of just position taking and if even that is taken from them I predict that within a half decade there will be an exodus from the party. A lot of the fault lies with leaders of their own movements. But if the party leaders finally read the tea leaves right, there can instead be a shaping of the Republican Party as a tight ship with a spirited elan. Will these groups be able to pursue their goals as part of the Grand Old Party or not? That indeed is the question of the hour! But first I must discuss the illogical conditioner for nearly all things Republican, an all- consuming passion for winning the 2000 Presidential race.
WINNING THE PRESIDENCY
1920 1940 1952 2000
The present lust for winning the 2000 presidential race at almost any price has swept all before it, including many leaders and rank and file of Christian and pro-life movements who ought to know better. But its genesis is very understandable and natural, springing from the loss of two very winnable presidential races, and the manic-depression flowing for the almost unbelievable Newt-led 1994 congressional victories and Contract with America and the just-as-unbelievable disarray and lack of direction after the winter of 1995-1996. The Republican leaders were clearly outfoxed by a debauched President who understood that Americans are truly ambivalent about government. We Americans like to curse and chastise it, except for benefits going to our families - Johnny's hot lunch program, Daddy and Momma's Social Security and Medicare, and of course, the subsidy to God's own peanut farmers, milk producers, etc. Nevertheless nothing unifies like losing, but please note, nothing more conditions people to see only what they want to see. However, if any of you start to sign onto expected inevitabilities, let me first reacquaint you briefly with the three other Twentieth Century demonstrations of the current Republican Syndrome! The year 1896 issued in the strongest era of Republican dominance in our history. The one fly in the ointment was the election of Woodrow Wilson in 1912, attributed correctly I believe to Teddy Roosevelt's desertion to his own "Bull Moose" Party (never was a party better named). I remind you here that the main philosophical issue at the time was merely Rooseveltism, although one hesitates to use the word "mere" in conjunction with Teddy Roosevelt. When Californian Hiram Johnson's dissatisfaction with Charles Evans Hughes lost California for the Republicans in 1916, a frenzy to win in 1920 swept the party. Teddy died in 1919, still the focal point of rally and dissent. And the candidate chosen was wondrous Warren Harding. We tend to forget in the aftermath that at the time Harding was considered a hell of a choice - handsome and personable, in a word what we would now call Kennedyesque. In fact he was a great candidate, only a disaster at governing (Though not, I believe, a crook. "It's my damn friends, my GD friends," Harding said, correctly I believe). When in 1940, after eight years of depression and Franklin Roosevelt, the same feeling again seized us. We nominated former Democrat Wendell Wilkie, more Rooseveltian than FDR himself. Thank God he lost. Well, the third time (1952), as they say, is the charm. However, I'd like to suggest that IKE was far from the success we might like to think he was. My dad, an isolationist to the day he died, was so hungry for victory that he and my uncle (under the influence of his friend Walter Judd) deserted their lifelong hero Robert Taft, while their first cousin manned the barricades at the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells with boxers supporting the Taft forces. Only ten years old, I was nevertheless very excited. Then came those "great" court appointments - Warren and Brennan - the Brown decision (which my family strongly supported) and those horrible days of Hungary and Suez (the former admittedly complicated by IKE's occupation with Lebanon). Eisenhower's actions in the Hungarian crisis are far more cause for tears than cheers. The Soviets, having determined to pull back upon expected American intervention, waited three days before putting down the rebellion. The Hungarian Freedom Fighters felt horribly betrayed. The final blow occurred when Eisenhower's Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, wrote the infamous letter to the Soviet Union stating among other things: "The U.S. does not look with favor on anti-Communist governments on the borders of the Soviet Union." 3
One does not however want to make of IKE some kind of abysmal presidential failure. He wasn't. He presided over an era of prosperity and good feelings, and he was a Godsend for the rebirth of the Republican Party in Texas (and a few other Southern states). As I have written in my textbook article, the General "ironically...helped lay the groundwork for the rise of the very conservative Republicanism of later decades. Future conservative activists were trained and the essential structural prerequisites for a functioning party were established (without which the 1960's upsurge might have bogged down in procedural details)."
But as far as the National Republican Party was concerned, he was a disaster, setting no direction or compass for the party to steer by. His victories were mainly personal. In its article on "The History of the Republican Party," The Encyclopedia Americana notes that "Eisenhower's personal popularity did not carry over to the GOP as a whole. Disliking political management, he did little to build up the party." The party did not recover from the disastrous congressional losses (including senatorial) of 1958 until 1980 and 1994. The national party organization was left rudderless, a shambles awaiting a restoration. The emphasis over these years on mere "Republicanism" (whatever that means) was simply not enough to survive the General's effective removal from politics after 1958. The vacuum thus created would eventually be filled by something whose shock waves are being felt to this very day - The Conservative Movement.
The point being, even given his erstwhile restoration by the eminent British historian, Paul Johnson, IKE's main contribution to the Republican Party was his failures, the reaction to which gave impetus to what became known as the Conservative Movement and which in just five years led to the end of the Eastern wing's dominance of the party and to the crowning glory of the 1964 nomination of Barry Goldwater for president. Regardless of his huge defeat, Goldwater was the beginning of a rousing populist conservatism from which all good things have flowed. A new era had begun, but Eisenhower's only contribution had been the failure of his so-called "modern" Republicanism.
In other words, beware! It seems when we put our emphasis on just finding a winner, the results produce a mediocrity at best, and a positive disaster at worst. To those who are concerned with the moral decline of the country, the routing of every vestige of prayer and God from our public life and institutions, the party's just "seeking a winner" on hopes that he or she will be considerably better than any Democrat appear sheer folly.
THE FAILURE OF THE FAITHFUL AND THE LEADERLESS LEADERS
During 1999 several important Christian and pro-life leaders stunned many of their followers by making major tactical political errors without even seeming to realize it. For instance, on a day on which he had heard that both George W. Bush and Elizabeth Dole had announced for the presidency, the charismatic leader of the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson, had to strain to conceal his joy. "Good," he said, they were both Christians and either one would be fine with him. He then waltzed away to enjoy his Christian meal (before selling "sand from the nation of Israel" on his TV program). The fallout was immediate, with the emotional reaction differing greatly according to the receiver of the news. Two of the best across-the-board defenders of traditional moral positions in the nation, candidates or near candidates themselves, Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes, (both of whom had recently addressed an annual Christian Coalition Dinner) were flabbergasted. The two leading Republican candidates Bush and Dole were relieved. (And why not? They would apparently not have to spend all their time in the primaries reassuring the Christian right of their basic soundness.) Some, including myself, who thought the purpose of a movement, especially a Christian movement, was "not to send an uncertain sound," but to stand firm but friendly, willing to listen, letting candidates come to you for them to win your support, were exasperated. And to the party organization leaders, being the professionals that they are (moderating all issues to the party's benefit) and the upper middle class matrons they tend to be ("not to have to be embarrassed by these hicks anymore" and totally incapable of seeing this issue used rightly as a winning issue) were filled with, "Joy, unspeakable Joy!"
When The New Republic opined that Robertson's reaction seemed a little premature given that Bush's statement on abortion seemed more pragmatic than principled, "full of ambiguity and obfuscation," Robertson leaped quickly to defend Bush's non-stance. You know a sort of "It's a question of trust. We know George will do what he can when he can. We don't want to be the ones that get him defeated and bring in that radical Gore." 4 Later, while applauding the field of GOP candidates, Jerry Falwell, understandably perhaps from his long time relationship with President Bush, also said he probably favored George W. Bush for the GOP nomination in 2000.
The New Republic wondered if others were willing to let Bush survive the primaries without abortion fireworks. They didn't wonder long as James Dobson, James Kennedy, Alan Keyes, Pat Buchanan, Senator Bob Smith, and Gary Bauer issued some pretty unequivocal statements. But not wanting to be outdone, the nation's most visible right-to-life organization, National Right to Life, rushed into the fray, not to bury Robertson but to praise him. Priding themselves on being the ultimate "pragmatist" (Oh, how sweet the name), the NRL justified them that if Bush could concretely deliver against partial-birth abortion and for parental notification, then that was enough for them. They then went on to attack Gary Bauer (who happened to be doing the usual electoral bit of pushing one's own candidacy through differentiating himself from others) for having the gall to criticize Bush. In doing so they said Bauer was attacking a fellow "good enough for our positions" Republican. They then publicly enjoined Bauer to do his duty and carry the fight to "Al Gore's and the Democratic Party's record on abortion." Unbelievable (unless you know the NRL)!
This incident revealed what a lot of us had known for a long time - that the NRL had ceased being an independent organization and had for all practical purposes became an operational arm of the Republican Party. They had "gone down to Gaza" and shown a total lack of understanding of human nature and politics. To the media, the average American, and their followers and to nearly everybody else, this action more than anything in years seemed to signal the growing weakness of the pro-life position, its willingness to deal with "reality" and to accept some crumbs from the table, putting any bully pulpit notions far behind. No wonder no one has any respect for us anymore!
The real reality however is just the opposite, as I'll soon delineate. But it confirms that the failure of the pro-life position to not make more significant ground over the past quarter-century can be partially attributed to the leading role of the NRL. By letting itself become so clearly identified with a political party it has lost its effectiveness and fight as a pro-life organization.
I have already seen this party penchant occur at a lesser level to a lot better and wonderful pro-life organization than NRL. Our board members, including myself, had been hobnobbing so long with the Republican Party leaders, being rightly concerned with getting "our candidates" the Republican nomination, we also had unknowingly been co- opted by the party. We had been animal farmed, but didn't know it. The Democrat Party had become the common enemy. Instead of growing in number by the strength of our position and by our own dedication and personal integrity, we had attributed to the whole Republican Party not only our beliefs, but also the depths of our feelings. It's a common thing really. It's called projection. And so instead of each movement member being constantly vigilant to make our position the party's and not vice-versa, we became its patsy. 5 It was implied last month that nobody had heard me attack Gore or the Democrats so strongly as my own party or candidates. Well, of course not! I'm not in that party. My job at this time is to firm up my own party to become the vehicle of good that it should be and to assure it takes an unqualified stance on the deeper issues of the hour. I am not here to give Carte Blanche to any candidate, but to bring them to see the rightness and power of certain positions ("Despite all your arguments about the non-existence of man's moral side, it exists, and that's just where all the power is."-Fyodor Dostoevsky). For a man like George W. Bush, whom I personally like (and agree he is of true Texas spirit) I would like him to not only support these issues positionally, but to become the Lincoln of his era and have the inner joy of "seeing the light" of the life of the unborn child. In other words, I would like him ultimately to help save our party as a party of principle and devotion to life upon which it was founded, and who, whatever its sins (and in Reconstruction they were legion), helped abolish the pernicious evil of slavery. And need I remind you that it was the abolitionist movement which carried a divided party and administration, not vice-versa. The abolitionist movement itself was splintered - the moderate incremental pragmatist wing not wanting to rock the boat. The list of reasons to delay, water down, or choke a clear moral message to preserve the delicate coalition of Abolitionists, Republicans, and War Democrats that was the Union cause was long and very compelling. Particularly frightening was the possibility of the defection of the entire state of Kentucky to the Confederate cause. But those in the movement whose hearts were stirred by the horror of slavery (Am I not also a human and a brother?), gave impetus to Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. They also urged him against issuing it too soon, i.e. in 1862, when the South was winning and advancing. They argued (correctly) that instead of doing something for the slaves, it would appear they would be freeing the slaves only to help save the North. And so a distinctly moral dimension was given to the conflict which help saved the fragmented Republican Party, the Union, and the war effort. The weary Northern soldier was thus freed from shooting his fellow brethren just to force the South back into the Union, but instead for something a bit more noble. It inspired him while he fought, justified his death most gloriously if he fell, and gave the Northern citizenry a much- needed moral impulse. So brother and sister candidates shall we again become the party that unqualifiedly stands for abolishing the present pernicious evil in our country - the slaughter of the innocent unborn? It is our moral imperative, I believe, to call the party to a high moral purpose so that the nation may once more show forth the better angels of our nature. B So where do things now stand in our party, the movement and among the candidates? First and foremost, as Fred Barnes made clear in the Weekly Standard, the party professionals after the Robertson and NRL "clarifications" went cautiously but operationally pro-choice. And that just at the moment when the pro-life position was at its highest point in decades, both in the party and with the public, though you would not know it from some of its own leaders. But at the beginning of the year, according to NR's Jeffrey Bell there were not only more pro-life Republican elected officials than ever before but more pro-life local party leaders than ever before. The voting base of the party has also never been more pro-life. Just this January a national survey by the pro-abortion Center for Gender Equality was shocked to find that 53% of their group sample of American women said abortion should be illegal except in cases of rape, or incest, or to save a mother's life. They were particularly concerned that it was being increasingly used for convenience's sake. And surprising even to me, as reported by Fred Barnes, the support for abortion among UCLA's entering freshman had dropped from 65% in 1990 to 51 percent now. Not only that, but there really is no organized Republican pro-abortion wing anymore. The party leaders have wanted to play this down for years, if only those pro-lifers would let them, because they think that discussion of abortion always hurts our party's chances. One cannot but wonder whether it is their own lifestyle and class mores rather than their vaunted "practicality" which determines their stances. How do they explain the Newman run in Wisconsin this year? The leaping leaders tried to get him to vitiate his pro-life campaign because it would supposedly cause pro- choice GOPers to stay at home. Instead it was this issue which almost pulled him through. "It helped us immeasurably," he said. Of those who thought of abortion as a major issue, 4 of 5 voted for Newmann. This effect has been shown again and again, both directly on the pro-life vote and in the attraction of those who became generally known as "Reagan Democrats." That's because of what Willmoore Kendall labeled the "intensity factor" in politics. You might be in a minority position in a public poll on an issue, but one group of people may be much more intense about it than others. Many pro-choice Republicans still vote pocketbook (after all there is still something to be said for the Republican economic positions). But pro-life Republican and Democrats turn out strongly as Barnes notes, "When the issue is raised and debated noisily in public." Defection analysis - a study of why self-identified members of a party defect to the other party's candidate - shows that in 1988, of the 17% of Democrats who defected to Bush, 30% of that 17%, or 5% of all Democrats, did it on the basis of one issue alone - abortion. Many of these people were ethnic Catholic (Polish, Czech, Slovak, Irish, etc.).
Ronald Reagan won heavily because of the "Reagan Democrats," - 27% of Democrats defected to Reagan in both elections - again, primarily white Catholic ethnics, blue-collar workers, and Southern Democrats, according to the findings of our leading student of group coalitions, Everett Ladd. For instance, Ronald Reagan won 60% of the white Catholic ethnic vote in both 1980 and 1984. Bush in 1992 and Dole in 1996 got just over 30% of the same vote. And it should also be noted that Black and Hispanic voters are much more anti-abortion than the average white voter. AND REPUBLICAN LEADERS WANT TO ASK WHERE AND HOW THEY SHOULD GO FISHING? Just as important, the second greatest demonstrable change in voting habits in national history has occurred among white evangelicals. 6 The Bible belt and the Solid South (for the Democrats) were for almost a century almost synonymous terms. Most evangelicals did not vote at high rates at all unless fellow fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan was running for President. But when they did, they tended strongly Democratic. Even in 1976 Gallup showed only 29% of Southern Baptist ministers identified as Republicans. By 1984, 66% of them did. Seventy-five percent of white evangelicals nationwide voted for Reagan both times and then surprisingly, but as a result of the movement growing because of Reagan's and the Republican Party's identification with them, 81% voted for Bush in 1988. But as Bush and Dole ceased to play to their positions, the percentage dropped to the low and mid 60's. Still evangelicals have been estimated to make up some 30% of the Republican vote. Because of the party's recent equivocations, an important question mark however hangs over its continuation. Now let me end this section with a piece of evidence released by The Houston Chronicle on May 1st, just two days after this paper was originally to have been presented. When one considers that this is a poll of the general public instead of the likely voting public and that pro-lifers tend to turn out more than abortion permitters (thought the latter may never have felt this threatened before) and that over the years the percent of those over the years feeling abortion an important issue (now at 56%) has always been led by pro-lifers, then this Chronicle poll result is of particular importance. Thus, I would like each of you to ask yourself why Republican party candidates or leaders run from this issue like it's the bubonic plague, unless they themselves really hold the misnomered "pro-choice" position, and/or is a matter of social class or style - the type of people who brought us the Margaret Sangers, small family advocacy (and in the 1950's) breast-feeding as gauche and non-progressive. The Houston Chronicle
Saturday, May 1, 1999 Support for abortion rights loses ground Texans are evenly split on the issue of abortion, compared with three years ago when those surveyed said they were pro-choice by a margin of 52 to 37. Q: Do you consider yourself closer to the anti-abortion or pro-choice position on abortion?
Please note that the question wording itself favors the pro-abortion position.
(Since the completion of the major portion of this paper, including this section, Ramesh Ponnuru has documented with much of this same evidence and more the electoral advantage of the abortion issue in the cover story of the May 17, 1999 National Review: "Not Dead Yet: The pro-life movement is winning." As of now the landmark article in the field, this piece gives even more credence to the Republican Party's ultimately running with a strong pro-life emphasis. I however disagree with many of his strategic recommendations to the pro-life movement. My objection to these recommendations can be found in Footnote 7.)
Now about the candidates, two ends have begun to diverge. Since the widely publicized perception of the GOP's new opening on abortion, Elizabeth Dole has practically left the reservation, as the National Review makes clear. It's like she has finally found herself (which she probably has). She has been freed from the Gordian knot and has discovered the fresh air of tolerance and diversity. She not only doesn't want the Human Life Amendment plank in the Republican platform anymore, but instead wants the platform to stress "sexual harassment and women's health" and "add the fact that good and honorable people disagree on the subject of abortion." "We should respectfully disagree," she says. In other words, she underwent quite an epiphany in two months time. Though Mrs. Dole has now left the race, the rapidly charging Senator John McCain is tending in the same direction. In the meantime, Bauer, Forbes, and Keyes have redoubled their commitment to the importance of moral issues. The reaction has been electric, and these candidates do not like at all how certain Christian and pro-life organizations as well as party leaders have treated them. Keyes and Bauer have reflected that if the party deserts a strong pro- life plank in the platform or does not yield a pro-life ticket, their future attachment to the Republican Party could be tenuous. In referring to Christine Todd Whitman, Pete Wilson, and even Rudy Guiliani, Keyes states, "If and when the Republican party makes the error of putting any of them anywhere on the national ticket, I will have a short list of things to do that begins with leaving the Republican party behind." He goes on to say that we must once again prove, "we are a people capable of the moral discipline required for liberty." He unmistakably sets the tone of the importance of this movement thusly.
Then there is George W. Bush, if you can follow him, either trying to please everybody or not knowing quite what to do except stick to Texas and play it cool. Long before the current fray broke out, however, Bush had appointed as an advisor Mr. Marvin Olasky, a professor of journalism at UT, a Jewish Christian editor of World magazine, and well-respected author of The Tragedy of American Compassion and Renewing American Compassion. Certainly his appointment has as its basis practical reasons of insight and outreach, but Bush reportedly is well pleased with Olasky. He will undoubtedly play a major role if Bush is to enlist the support of many social conservatives. But Olasky, a fine Christian and cultural observer, has a far from adequate abortion position for most pro-life activists. His de-emphasis on the political phase of the struggle and his inane statement that the pro-life movement needs a Dwight Eisenhower not a John Brown is discouraging. William Wilberforce is clearly a more apt model than either. Bush himself has sounded the pragmatic note on most of the moral issues for too long. His "take out the Human Life Amendment plank" statement has not been replaced with a concrete recommendation on the platform wording. Those of us who 20 years ago preferred a plank on ultimate goals (its declaration as a moral evil and its ultimate abolition) not the instrumentality to reach those goals, might be sympathetic if Bush would show real passion for the issue and make some concrete suggestions. But he should understand that to many movement types the platform plank as it has become a thing in itself, not subject to negotiation. And although, in late April, Bush finally stated that gays should have no special rights created for them, he still felt required to issue a Leo Buscalgia line: "But we should never discriminate against anybody." As Professor David Gelernter of Mr. Bush's own Yale University stated in a Wall Street Journal article last year: "But asking a traditional Jew or Christian not to 'discriminate against' a practicing homosexual is like asking him to venerate idols. Judaism and Christianity hold that homosexual behavior is an abomination." In addition, Bush's "big tent" stance on the abortion issue has not had a good effect on most pro-life people, and I shall subsequently try to explain why, regardless of your own position, you could hardly expect any other reaction from those who think abortion is taking a life. Bush however has made a recent move that shows the power of a movement when it gets serious. After the counter-declarations of Keyes, Bauer, and James Dobson, if not because of them, Bush made conservative pro-lifer Michael J. Gerson his chief speech writer and senior policy advisor to his presidential campaign. He has also conducted a long planned, impressive, and, I believe, sincere sexual abstinence campaign. This is all to his credit. But again, his clear discomfort over the abortion issue - "Yes I am basically pro-life, but there are strong positions on both sides," is ultimately not going to wash. He might, I suggest, find it personally refreshing as well as helpful politically to get a sense of moral purpose, not just a position, on the killing of unborn babies. Before we move on, let me make it clear that I blame a lot of the present confusion on the signals sent out to people that are more or less in my own camp. Again, Ramesh Ponnuru put it best in a May 3rd National Review article "Apolitical Animals, What GOP Agenda?" "Indeed it is the weakness and confusion of conservatives (who normally provide the party's energy and direction), and not, as they imagine, the spinelessness of the party leader that explains the GOP's current travails." But of course the party leaders will probably take the opportunity, Ponnuru says to, "prosper by shucking the unpopular or difficult portions of the conservative agenda." And he wisely suggests, "A truly political conservatism would begin not with a set of policy prescriptions, but an accurate portrayal of the American condition." Well said, and I will speak of that later in a very different area than where he does. But again Ponnuru, for all his insight, is seized with a strategic imperative which I've already tried to make clear is a recipe for disaster. "Conservatives," he says, "should do nothing - nothing - that hurts Republicans chances of winning the White House in 2000." I think I'll just take another suggestion of his instead, "A successful political movement creates the conditions for its own success." Thus, the forces of the good and the right should continue to stand fast and not let their support to be taken for granted. "We ain't playing ball no more." As Alan Keyes implies, if we do not lead with the cultural and moral issues at the top of our own agenda - and I don't mean some surrogate syrup of the mealy mouthed, like court appointments - then it doesn't matter if you cut taxes, prioritize Social Security, or enact anything else in this so-called conservative agenda. If winning does not mean meaningful change on issues that are at the heart of our cultural decline, then winning is worse than a chimera; it is a snare and a delusion. Only when our party and our candidates reflect clearly and confidently a positive direction of change on the moral and cultural health of our nation will we be able to restore that inner peace of outward right - that "music in the back of the mind" - which once enveloped the nation. Then and only then will winning the White House become a winning with meaning as we stir the "deeper than economic" roots of the nation.
THE FAR FUTURE AND ITS RELEVANCE
The Future is rarely predetermined, but we can increasingly see its outline. Along with the increasingly technological and scientific nature of modern society has come a breakdown of morals and loss of the virtues of certitude and truth. The crime wave has seemed to go down a bit lately and there are clear signs of a return of values, but deep down the old instinctive sense of rightness of things no longer seems to be present. Discipline and educational standards have declined to the point where cultural literacy has almost been matched by its literal counter point, and mechanistic approaches to sex in the classroom and in private have stripped one of the greatest of human expressions of its mystery, passion, and drama. Many of us fear that the present "post-modern" period could lead, if possible, to a "post-human" period in which human nature, that continual thread which makes us what we are, can be so fundamentally changed we no longer will be recognized as "humans." (Of course, to some like Teilhard de Chardin, this stage itself is merely a progressive prelude to the bodiless "mindsphere" which will someday envelop the earth.)
Robbed of the sense of moral law, and increasingly dominated by human technology and scientific innovations, man may find that in "conquering nature" (itself a suspicious enterprise) he will ultimately have conquered himself. Such is the fear of both Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and C.S. Lewis's Abolition of Man, much more enduring and prophetic books than Orwell's 1984 have proved to be. Technology replacing religion at the center of our consciousness, its techniques and power are hard to control, the temptations and allure too great. In the process we have more earthly comforts than ever before, but seem engaged in what both Leo Strauss and John Lukacs have called "the joyless quest for joy."
As we become mired in fun and technique, life can become boring and insatiable. Doestoevsky wisely observed that without that something infinitely great to look up to we "will not go on living but will die in despair." Ironically, without something to die for, without feeling there is something to live for, men's spirits do often die. Even children pick up this sense of hopelessness. Instead of inculcating "The God of the Copybook Headings," and giving them wisdom, we give them toys. The latter continues to be an enormous club wielded by spoiled children who hardly "understand" the power thereof.
In both Huxley's and Lewis's book, the ultimate end of the scientific revolution is the final stage in the "liberation" of man's sex life from reproduction - total separation. Women will have been liberated from "the womb" and the enslavement of having children; test-tube babies and assembly line children will be the order of the day as the end of "autonomous man" is the loss of his own autonomy. In Brave New World, a few people called "savages" have been allowed outposts on the edge of civilization where they continue to have children in the natural way. C.S. Lewis summarizes the ultimate result of such a world:
The loss of moral law, Lewis feels, will lead to this scenario. Babies will be scientifically produced, men eugenically engineered. Lewis disciple Peter Kreeft argues (supporting Aquinas) that the natural and moral laws can never be driven from the heart of man, (God himself will not permit it), but agrees with Lewis on the general type of society that may be coming. No one has better charted the two underlying conceptual visions for man than leftist philosopher Kenneth Boulding (founder of eiconics - an attempt to unify social science).
There are some who hope for the development of a "true" manifest image of history out of science. Science has given us, they argue, an enormously expanded image of space, time, and relationship and has enormously expanded the powers of man...[BUT] THE TROUBLE WITH SCIENTIFIC UTOPIAS IS THAT ONCE THAT THEY ARE STATED, THEY LOOK REMARKABLY LIKE NIGHTMARES - ANTISEPTIC VISIONS OF A BLOODLESS UNIVERSE IN WHITE, POPULATED BY PALE IMMORTALS.
The silent holocaust of the presence and the lack of concern about it represent to some of us the first step of this new eugenical scientistic politics of the future. Such an occurrence may seem far-fetched to you now, but it is clearly ever more in the range of possibility. Science cannot provide the rationale for its own usage. Not guided by a humane philosophy or religion, it may otherwise produce a generation of Rappaccinis.
The next step in this never-ending drama has been openly discussed and propagated by Francis Crick of Double Helix fame (i.e. the discovery of DNA). Crick has forthrightly proclaimed that our increasingly technological society necessitates a certain "level of humanity" before a person should be allowed to live in it. He has been embarrassed by those who deny that life begins at conception and forthrightly states that we should be socially allocating who comes into our society or not (i.e. lives or dies). Crick and his compatriots wish to extend that determination until after birth when scientific tests will have determined which "specimens" have the "necessary attributes" to allow entrance into society. Crick's own words are as follows: "No newborn infant should be declared human until it has passed certain tests regarding its genetic endowment and...if it fails these tests it forfeits the right to live." PBS's award winning documentary "Death in the Nursery" shows that as early as the mid-1980's many American hospitals were letting newborns - some merely with malformed ankles - die of thirst or starvation after a decision between the parents and their doctor. These then are the fears of those who have tried to look at future possibilities in a world given up to the instrumentalism of technology and offer reasons beyond even the horror of the moment for vigilance in preserving a high view not only of human life, but of sex and the reproductive process itself. If these cease to be "sacred things," then we living beings will have surrendered ourselves to mere "technological" process.
Back to the Present:
THE POLITICS OF THE WOMB
Why We Believe What We Believe
Why We Must Do What We Must Do
The theologically observant will note that the above lines from the lyrics of "Lullaby for the Unborn " are a bit heretical. Although set to the music of Brahm's Lullaby and performed by members of Bethany Fellowship of Minneapolis Minnesota, this piece can produce "a chill down your back" impression, we must remember that God, being omniscient, indeed knew that he had given the safest place for the unborn to live, develop, and grow, but also recognized that one day men would invade that sacred place for unholy purposes and would even eventually try to destroy the womb itself. Abortion, motherhood, population, male-female birth ratios, and many other issues can be subsumed under the rubric "the politics of the womb."
The main issue of the present hour is abortion. We have been taught for the last quarter century that the right to have one performed is an affirmation of a woman's right to privacy. For some of us the invasion of the womb in the name of privacy is the ultimate euphemism covering up not only an invasion of two privacies but the death of a fellow human being. It represents the ultimate routing of the sacred by the profane. If you really think it is a matter of privacy or choice, then why, as young Jewish author Wendy Shalit relates, do over 30% of women obtain an abortion at a husband's or boyfriend's insistence, not theirs?
Many pro-lifers are known to respond to the statement that "An abortion is a decision between a woman and her doctor" with "They're forgetting somebody!" That statement may be true, but its cutesy tone causes people in turn to respond with something like - "Yeah, give me a break!" I understand, having once felt exactly like that myself. I would like then to give the reasons why many of us know this statement is accurate and why we believe what we believe about abortion.
Tom Lovell, a colleague, and I recently attended a Phi Theta Kappa presentation on "Mental Health and Happiness" in which the gentle Dr. Ron Waldbillig, a brain scientist most of his life, ended his talk with a phrase from Psalm 139, "Thou didst form my inward parts; thou didst weave me in my mother's womb." Now there, he said smilingly, was a real brain surgeon at work. When followed by the next verse, Psalm 139:14, this passage is probably the primary reason believing or observant Christians and Jews feel the sacredness and aliveness of the unborn child. Psalm 139:14 states "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are thy works, and that my soul knows well!" Nearly all of us however need compelling, concrete evidence to support our view. The experience of New York's Dr. Bernard Nathanson is helpful here and enlightening. One night Dr. Nathanson, who by the mid-1970's had presided over more abortions (60,000) than anyone in the world, heard screams. He began to think for the first time about what he had been doing at his clinic. Ultrasound allowed him to see the "who" of the "it" within. He also knew from practice the basic methods of aborting what he considered as only a "fetus." The saline instillation method is primarily used in the latter stages of "fetal" development, the salt scalding the life out of whomever or whatever is there. This often results in what has become known as the candy apple red baby. The suction method, used in the less fully developed "cases," literally, though fairly quickly, tears the fetal child limb from limb. You probably have never seen the pictures of the buckets or the mass disposal units that used to be hauled daily from abortion clinics. Who would want to? But if you have, I wonder why it is we nearly all turn instinctively away? It's quite understandable, I would think. We all have our lives to live, but to have to contemplate that here were some who also had a life to live if it had not been prematurely snuffed out, can be very upsetting. Dr. Nathanson however could hardly turn away, and once he began hearing the silent screams of "the ones who had not been consulted," he stopped. Dr. Nathanson had progressed from seeing a mere fetus to seeing an unborn child in all his or her wholeness.
The fetus, you see, is a Latin term meaning "young one." The problem is that to those not fluent in Latin it is mere technical jargon, the use of which robs the young ones of their humanity. (After all, in ordinary discourse, we do not refer to human beings at other stages of life by technical Latin names.) In using the term "fetus," we miss the humanity of "the thing within"...the unborn child. The womb is going about its wondrous work, and the very young person within is moving around in those marvelous fluids designed to bring us all, you and me and whomever, into fullness. These babes are not yet "full," but dear friend, they are as wholly human as you and I, just a little bit younger and in an earlier stage. And some would have you believe this unborn child is merely a "part" of another person? Bull! This small one is neither an imposter nor an invader, but a most proper fulfillment of our existence.
For years, Dr. Nathanson was hailed in the pro-life movement as our favorite agnostic/atheist. He toured the country speaking on the sanctity of life. He produced two potent documentaries The Silent Scream and Eclipse of Reason He personally, however, could not feel forgiven. This need and the shambles he had made of his own life drove him to search for the truth. Just recently he became first a theist and then a Christian. Without someone above us able to forgive our mistakes and sins, then certain acts become very difficult to live with.
The origin of my change of view is not too different from Nathanson's; the visual made the difference. As implied earlier, I was almost unthinkingly pro-abortion at the same time I was an active evangelical. I sat under a dynamic theologically hair-splitting minister who had gotten into the debate over "the origin of the soul" long before the abortion issue had ever been thought of much. He held to the position that the soul was not implanted until the first breath was taken. So when the abortion issue came along, no problems existed for us. Carefully avoiding verses like Psalms 139, we na´ve waifs hardly ever gave it a thought.
Then in 1972, I walked into a fellow friend and churchman's apartment room looking for some book or magazine. Suddenly my eyes struck on several almost hidden volumes of Human Life Review, of which he, knowing our church's position, had never told me about. I began breezing through these and accompanying publications, some of which had some pretty stark pictures of unborn children at various stages of development. At first I just felt "Gee, this is interesting." Then it began dawning on me what a miracle this whole process was. Finally it hit me "this - this is one of us." It was almost like a Pauline conversion experience - "I was blind but now I see." Of course I was benefited by the sight of the more fully developed unborn. But both scripture and logic have lead me since to the conclusion that life can begin at only one place - conception. If you have any other one moment you'd like to make a case for - not just some amorphous period of time - then please let me hear your case. I think you'll find there isn't one.
I eventually left that church, became active in pro-life work, and helped found the first Crisis Pregnancy Center in Houston. In that work, I have heard some of the most frivolous reasons for receiving an abortion you can think of - and, believe me, without many having any second thoughts about it. And the volunteers, especially the woman, who man those centers, see women through their pregnancies and births, and help them in raising the children or getting adoptions are to me some of America's real heroines. This then is the origin of why I believe what I believe.
Whatever the origin, the opposition to abortion of most pro-lifers gets down to that they knew it to be a taking - a very concealed and hidden taking - of innocent pre- born human life. No matter how you yourself feel about the matter, what would you think about someone who believed like we do but who just kept silent and went about our lives, personal and political, as if it were no big deal? Would you think us credible? Or would you expect someone, however misguided he or she might be, who felt abortion the killing of a babe (1-1.5 million U.S. babies a year) to do all within his or her power to stop it? And what should a convinced pro-lifer think of a proclaimed "Big Tent" with those who wittingly or unwittingly support the taking of unborn human life?
Given what has just been stated, fighting merely to keep an anti-abortion plank in the party platform which has already been there twenty years is actually pretty mild. Since the present maneuvering over this plank, I have never seen so much discontent among long time grassroots conservatives. These are the people that have always pounded the pavement and manned the phone banks. It is getting harder to find active, spirited precinct chairmen. Statements like the following abound: "Why bother? Our leaders our capitulating everywhere. They are not going to do anything about things anyway." When Bob Dole in the last election made that quip about the platform being only a piece of paper, he lost a lot of the hardest workers he could have had. Only when the party gets a sense of direction and moral imperative will it be able to muster the support and spirit of its grassroots members. Having the sense of a winning candidate may definitely help, but only when there is an accompanying challenge to the underlying issues of our cultural and moral decline will you see an invigorated citizenry again. We have as a nation never been so rich yet never so discontented. Where is the bully pulpiteer to call us back to our better selves?
When I was a boy, my father would drive us hundreds of miles to see the Barnum and Bailey Circus. I saw the Big Tent go up many times. But one time in Dallas, I saw it almost blown down by a gusting "Oklahoma wind." And when the gusting wind of an issue whose time has come hits a party, like slavery in the 1850's, Big Tents like the Whig Party come tumbling down.
There is also a difference between having a tent and proudly proclaiming it. The party can have a tent into which anybody can come and, if one force dominates the platform planks and the stances of a candidate on a major issue, but others want to support the party for other reasons, then fine. But a declared Big Tent on abortion beforehand implies a sort of moral equivalency that is repulsive to those knowing abortion to be the taking of a human life. When the party accommodates the prevailing cultural whims by yielding to the term pro-choice for the other side, this is also offensive. Pro-choice is a political effective but highly misleading phrase. The life choice was made when the baby was conceived. Once the sperm meets the egg and the fertilized egg implants in the womb, the birth of a baby will naturally follow unless a miscarriage occurs. The only choice that "pro-choice" brings to the matter is the death choice. Called abortion, this choice results every time in the death of the unborn child. Do you choose life or do you choose death, that is the question? Life-choosers and death-choosers might be the more appropriate descriptions, but we'll be satisfied with our party if it at last employs the terms pro-life and pro-abortion.
Also this is not a question of determining good people. There were a lot of good people on both sides of the Civil War, and in my opinion the South may have had the greater percentage of them. But the failure to see or care about a moral issue like slavery or abortion can be a moral blind spot of otherwise very good people.
If George W. Bush ever sees the depth of the horror of abortion, I believe he will understand a lot of these things better. And how he or any other candidate approaches parental notification or partial birth abortion is more important than just doing something about it. There is a big difference between an attitude which seems to say, "There I've done my duty" and one that says, "This is a good and right thing to do, but it is only the first step in the never-ending war to preserve the life of the unborn." If you think that in this tumultuous period of American history anything but the latter will satisfy most social conservatives, you're wrong. The Weekly Standard's editors' statement of May 3rd makes the point most clearly:
The time has come for a forthright stand as a party in one direction or the other or this party is going to become like Canada's "Progressive Conservative Party."
Let me close this section thusly. Many women have confided to me that had abortion been legal at an earlier time they may have been tempted because of economic or emotional reasons to have aborted one of their children. The very thought of it chilled their soul.
Contemplate yourself in your mother's womb...Now let me ask you, aren't you glad you were born when you were born? Aren't you glad that you were born?
B Related Issues: Motherhood and Population
Abortion is an issue intertwined with many others, nearly all derived from the sexual revolution. Germaine Greer, ever the most individualist of feminists, was recently asked what she thought of the new sexual freedom. She replied, "The sexual freedom that has been freed is male sexuality."
Men, in my opinion, are primarily responsible for the loss of intimacy between the sexes that was present in my parents' and grandparents' generation. Carl Wilson in Our Dance has Turned to Death has said it best: "The main cause of the nation's troubles is that many men in America have turned from the worship of God and have selfishly distorted their role in pursuit of wealth and status, giving them an overexaggerated prominence compared to the role of women."
The loss of Christian gentlemanly arts led many youths more than ever to reduce women to sex objects. The object of their desire was not primarily the woman herself. In pursuit of a chimera they never learned what Michael Novak has written: "If things go well with the family, life is worth living; when the family falters, life falls apart." But feminist rhetoric has only exacerbated the war between the sexes; their claims that female and male sexuality were largely the same, and the rise of contraception and abortion have only made things worse - much worse. Instead of shotgun marriages with the responsibility falling on the male, you now have abortion with the woman expected to take care of "the problem." Instead of males being expected to support the family, the woman over time not only had the chance of a better job but was expected to work outside the home. Mothers used to be favored in divorce courts, but are now reduced to equality (or less) through the no fault divorce laws favored both by feminists and Father's for Equal Rights. Now, men's living standards increase after divorce, but the average woman's with minor children decreases substantially. And a man whose children are grown can easily bid the mother of those children a fond farewell and marry a 25-year- old without much ado. Then many feminists square the circle by telling women they had better learn to work and hold a job because of the very legal situation they themselves helped to induce. And just think, some still call this liberation.
Two recent mutually reinforcing books, David Gelernter's Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber and Carolyn Graglia's Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism argue that the greatest tragedy of this state of affairs has been what they call The Motherhood Revolution. Before 1970, mothers who stayed at home and raised their children were held in high regard; motherhood was revered. But third-wave feminists weren't content to just have jobs themselves. They made it a categorical imperative that "every other woman had to get one too. So they opened fire on housewives with a savagery which still echoes throughout the country." Now after a third of a century of being called "a parasite," "a leech," "dependent creatures who are still children," the mere "housewife and mother" is treated with little respect. "Those over the age of 35 have rarely heard the housewife described except in any but demeaning terms" (Graglia).
"Every working mother sits at her desk in a big noisy room with a hundred other women at some insurance company in Peoria and worries about her children. A generation ago she would have been taking care of them," writes Gelernter.
Gelernter thanks his wife for staying home after the birth of their first child when she was on her way to being a superb architect. And then praises her thusly: "Rearing the children and adding emotional wholeness to the world is an achievement that is considerably more important than any surgeon or artist or scientist."
Not wishing to be misunderstood, Gelernter salutes the working women on the medical team who worked so diligently in helping him recover from his near-death experience from the unabomber's handiwork and adds
Gelernter also includes what must be one of the strongest paragraphs of the last quarter century in his description of what the change of expectations in the woman's role has had on even good males, who driven by their natural instincts make the woman's task even more difficult:
Closely related to the Motherhood revolution is the looming population decline of the Western world. Given the propaganda of Planned Parenthood and Zero Population Growth, this decline is one of the most misunderstood problems of our educated population. We have been taught to think that "overpopulation" is a major problem and that it is progressive to have small families and support ZPG. The truth is just the opposite. In fact, if present trends continue nobody is going to have to worry about any supposed Western Imperialism because there's not going to be enough Western Imperialists left to matter.
The population of a nation is closely related to both its military strength and its economic potential. Business and management circles are finally attempting to come to grips with the real population problem of the age - its decline, not growth.
The Godfather of the business world, Peter Drucker, has addressed himself to this problem in no uncertain terms: "The most important new certainty - if only because there is no precedent for it in all of history - is the collapsing birth rate in the developed world." Unless reversed, Drucker says, the childbearing decline will reduce Italy from 60 million to 20 million people and Japan from 125 million to 55 million within the next century.
The replacement rate for a population in developed nations is circa 2.1-2.2 births per woman. All of Europe together is now only 1.35. In Russia, Germany, Spain, and Italy the rate is under 1.3. Francis Fukuyama in speaking of the decline in the 2-parent households in the Western world adds that in addition "the core reproduction function of the family [is] threatened: fertility has dropped so low in Italy, Spain, and Germany that they stand to lose up to 30% of their population each generation."
The economic effect of this implosion will be dramatic. The aging population will create grave problems in the care and support of senior citizens. In a severe population decline, the Gross National Product, both in the aggregate and per capita, will be adversely affected. A goodly portion of the economic malaise of Japan is traced by many to a lack of young people to power the economy. A growth economy needs more workers not less. People are not a drain on a developed economy. Quite the contrary, the individual human being is in Julian Simon's phrase The Ultimate Resource. The more the merrier. They make the economy hum; their minds create the inventions which expand it more and more.
The recent Welfare reform in the United States has cut the welfare roles from 12 million to 7 million. One result has been a quick influx of 3 million workers needed in the booming U.S. economy. We are right now reaping the benefit of that influx, but anything like it is probably not going to happen again. It is a one-time thing. There is a great fear that within the next decade Europe and Japan's problems will eventually spread to the U.S. Only our high immigration rate coupled with higher fertility rates for recent immigrants are saving the U.S. from a portion of the dramatic reversal that has beset the rest of the world. We should not discount our streamlining, entrepreneuring, and inventiveness which placed us in the position to be so competitive while the rest of the world is in recession. But that alone won't save us. The neo-Malthusians are dead wrong. We or the world do not have too many people. We have too few. The human being is not a drag on the economy. He or she is a precious asset. The development of better techniques for supplying more and better food assures an increasingly growing food supply for long into the future. The United States, in fact, with its abundance of land, could easily sustain an almost unlimited population growth. The density rates of very productive nations like Holland, who have learned to use their space efficiently, would stagger American imaginations.
Ben Wattenberg's The Birth Dearth saw the present effect coming over a decade ago. Even developing countries face an underpopulation crisis. Twenty-seven of them average slightly below the replacement rate right now. Stephen Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute, writes that such unlikely places as Sri Lanka and Thailand are affected: "The human face of this population implosion is melancholy - villages bereft of children, schools closed for lack of students"...Labor shortages are cramping production, housing markets are sagging and the real estate markets are dragging.
And in China the attack on human fertilization is going to exact a horrendous price in an overaging population and unbalanced male-female ratios. The one-child policy enforced by the totalitarian horrors of forced sterilization and abortion are already beginning to reap the sad whirlwind. An aging population will have to be cared for by far too few new faces. And the huge overabundance of males among the younger generation has created a demographic disaster (the abortion of the female unborn running rampant in male-oriented China).
Stephen Mosher again sums up the direction of current trends:
Welcome my friends to the Brave New World of underpopulation. A civilization that does not produce children is a civilization in despair. It has lost faith in itself and the future. Contributing further to the despair is the permissive attitude toward homosexuality. Regardless of their self-labeling, homosexuals are on the whole a sad lot. They have no stake in the future of their civilization, which many of them hold in contempt anyway. They are extremely present oriented and their hedonism defies description. Are we going to get a Republican leadership, especially a presidential candidate, who will forthrightly and clearly address issues like these? It would thrill our souls to see someone really do it. Who will use the presidency to encourage the rebirth of families and run on a platform declaring "the family is the basic unit of society?" When will we get a President who speaks passionately against the invasion of the womb by death- bringing technologies and encourages a proper reverence for the unborn child's God- given destiny? In short, will our party and its candidates openly and zealously help restore an optimism to our nation and civilization by addressing questions such as these or will they not?
ISSUES BEYOND REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRAT
A The Cultural War
Across a broad spectrum of issues, the Republican Party has not only refused to champion conservative causes, but has ignored them or even been at least operationally on the other side. These issues include those spoken of in "The Politics of the Womb" (pp 33-45) and the breakdown of the distinctions both between the sexes and between "sexual orientations." The party has tried to have it both ways on any number of issues, speaking in general terms of standing for traditional family values while at the same time trying not to alienate the feminists, "modern women," or homosexualists. They are afraid that too close identification with the cultural conservatives will increase the so-called gender gap. Public schools have removed not only God but the traditional moral content they once provided. An overweaning bureaucracy pushes paperwork, racial, gender, and inclusion issues to the detriment of the 3 R's. Even the best of public school teachers are snowed under by regulatory oversight. Universities go to Co-ed dorms, then Co-ed floors, then Co-ed restrooms and drastically change the traditional curriculum, making European civilization the villain. All male institutions like VMI and the Citadel are abolished. Multicultural diversity becomes the buzzword of polite society and saturates not only universities but business and business school lingo. And not one peep, much less outspoken leadership from the Republican Party as such. Why is that?
I mentioned in the introduction the almost incredible fear of party functionaries of confronting the multicultural and political correctness issues forthrightly. The fear not of being but merely being accused of being racist, sexist, or homophobic turns these people into moral cowards and political eunuchs. Why is that? Why, isn't there, as David Gelernter asks "so little at stake in typical elections on cultural grounds." And he is ready with an answer. (Though questions concerned with God and religion require a little further analysis.) The answer is the domination of the social consciousness forming organs - the universities, the arts, the media - radio, TV, magazines, newspapers, and movies - by the intellectual class which is overwhelming left and secular. Their beliefs permeate our public culture from top to bottom. Many of our Republican leaders have been educated by them, want to be thought well of by them, kow-tow to them, are sometimes their personal friends, and like to be covered positively on nightly TV or in Time and Newsweek, and they are all, in a sense, part of the same governing class.
Many writers have written about something like this before, including me. Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, William Barrett, Michael Novak, and other "neocons" have written extensively on the "new class" and the rise of "the adversary culture." But Gelernter gives a slightly different twist to the analysis. He says what we have had is a total elite replacement.
The previous writers spoke of the battleground between the new and the old elite, of the power struggle between the older business, economic, "old college ties" elite vs. the 1960's intellectual "knowledge-based" elites. But Gelernter declares that (1) the battle's been over for some time now - at least a decade - and the 1960's produced elite has won and (2) there never was much of a battle in the first place, the old WASP elites being so cordial and "tolerant" that they practically paved the way for the takeover by their cultural enemies.
What he pictures is a sort of a bloodless coup very similar to that in the public schools described by Richard Weaver some 35 years ago in his indispensable Visions of Order: The Cultural Crisis of Our Time "a virtual coup d'etat ...has been...carried out by a specially inclined minority...in marked contrast with our basic traditions and culture...The result has been an educational system not only intrinsically bad but at war with the community which authorizes it."
The same thing has happened at the university where the counter cultural intellectual elite not only took over the faculty and student body, but the administration and the boards. Alan Kors and Harvey Silverglate document this trend in The Shadow University. Professor Peter Lawler cites them as follows:
Gelernter states that across the board,
The old elite, though rich, approached life on the same terms as the general public. They loved America and baseball, were public-spirited and if called to military service they served, liked traditional weddings and marriage, and went to church. Thus the change of elite represents a real revolution. But, as Gelernter relates, it was "not a conspiracy but a tragedy" because the old elite "did it on their own; they kicked things off by volunteering to make room for a new elite." Richard Brookhiser in his gutsy The Way of the WASP puts it this way "In their guilt, WASPs not only do the right thing by those who wish to be WASPs, but they extend themselves for the benefit of those who intend to remain something else."
The new intellectual elite is thus installed all throughout the culture and loathes the middle class and its values, like the sheepmen used to loathe the cattlemen and vice- versa. They used to be on the outside, now they are the inside. "This was an astonishingly different culture before the intellectuals took over" (Gelernter). They helped induce the change in attitude toward traditional families and Motherhood described in the previous section. They pushed affirmative action and quota systems, multiculturalism, the ridiculous use of "Frenchperson" and "humankind" instead of the clearly nonperjorative Frenchman and mankind, and the teaching of moral and cultural relativism. (The secular anti-religious part of this revolution will be discussed in the next part.) The old VMI was hated by the elite and Gelernter says thus "crushed like a beer can under a tank tread."
So Gelernter makes the statement which opened this section that the elite-public divide is deeper than the Republican-Democrat difference. "Leading Republicans speak the elite's language just like the Democrats." He has thus rather despaired of politics and puts his emphasis on talking and writing for Middle-Americans, focusing on the organs of social consciousness long overlooked by conservatives: TV, newspapers, magazines, movies, and even new schools.
Gelernter has often been met by this reply, "Conservatives (being conservative) lack the necessary passion to change the country, the cultural forces of the Left are too strong to beat." This almost echoes Whittaker Chambers of a generation ago "Counterrevolution and conservatism have little in common...The conservative is suspicious of sacrifice; he wishes first to conserve, above all what he is and what he has." And make no mistake about it, counterrevolution is what is called for.
So, the good professor is pessimistic: "The chances of our repairing American society might be close to zero." And he asks Republican incrementalists that are always arguing institutionally about "controlling congressional committees" and "making judicial appointments" just what did the new eager Republican Congress led by "Diversity Newt" do on the cultural issues? "Why is it that, no matter how many Republicans we put on the Supreme Court it is still capable of deciding a case like the [Janet Reno's] Justice Department against VMI seven to one (Clarence Thomas not voting) in favor of smashing the old order and putting in a new one, on the scientific principle that men and women are in practice interchangeable?"
But even while pessimistic he is also rallying. He serves no uncertain notice on "the intellectual who commands modern culture...I am against him. I have seen the work of his disciples, and I say the hell with him. To me no cause is lost." And he wonders like us, will conservatives and Republican leaders have the wisdom and moral backbone to fight the cultural, not just the economic wars?
God, the Nation, and the Republican Party
"The U.S. Constitution may separate church and state, but it was never intended to separate God and the American people."
The main issues beyond Republican and Democrat at present involve religion and God, who, if He is, is not pleased with nations who do not honor Him. He is in fact not a member of the local chapter of the ACLU or subject to modern interpretation of the First Amendment. Republican leaders, however, are reluctant to be out front leaders on these issues. There are several reasons for the Republican leadership's shyness. As with the other cultural issues, they are reluctant to stand openly against the forces of the intellectual secular elite. To be associated with some of those associated with these issues invokes a class bias involving an embarrassment all its own. But these cowardly excuses are also joined by other partially understandable though still incorrect reasons. God, Motherhood, and Apple Pie have long been considered beyond politics because it was felt they underpinned politics. A candidate appealing to them as if they were salient issues was surely to be hurrahed by his opponent for standing on nothing but platitudes and thus refusing to deal with real issues. The trouble now is that the platitudes themselves have been slickly routed and need to be rebirthed. God knows they are certainly salient issues now. The second reason (for some) or excuse (for others) for Republican reluctance lies in our political tradition of having only secular parties. We lack the European tradition of having explicitly secularist parties, i.e., the SPD (Social Democratic Party) of Germany, for instance, and of also having parties with explicit religious content on the other, i.e., the CDU-CSU (Christian Democratic Union - Christian Social Union) of Germany. Across Europe and elsewhere the party ostensibly being the bearer of "Christian" values has generally been known as the Christian Democrats. The Humane Economy, the banner work by the economist most closely associated with the post war German Economic Miracle, Wilhelm Roepke, is a good example of that tradition. One reason we never developed such a tradition is the almost universally accepted Christian social underpinnings of our country. Secular political parties are neutral between religious sects and basically do not attack traditional morality or its underpinnings. The connection between religion and society has long been considered until recently the strongest in the Western World (exclusive perhaps of Eastern Europe). De Tocqueville found Americans both the most religious and the most verbose about religion of any people he had observed. That religion and arguments about it were even the primary subject of Tavern conversations amazed de Tocqueville to no end. Does there appear any reason now for our tradition of secular political parties to be changed? Unfortunately, indeed there is! And nobody states it better than Jewish social critic Irving Kristol:
The difference speaks volumes. Kristol goes on to note that such a secularist party "believes that moral issues 'have no place in politics' and replaces such issues with the idea of 'fair and equal' treatment of all 'lifestyles' [heterosexual and homosexual, for instance]...This is accompanied by a powerful animus against the dominant traditional beliefs, especially religious beliefs."
Kristol then states the obvious about his own party: "The Republican Party is under stress as economic conservatives and social conservatives strive for dominance in state after state, primary after primary." But the Democratic Party is not involved in such conflicts. And the reason is not all that hard to figure out. Its cultural left is now such an intricate part of the party that the party has operationally (no matter the words of Al Gore) become secularist, as has already been detailed. Kristol knows Republicans on the other hand are leery of their own cultural elements and thus prods them on as a kindly but exasperated grandfather:
Thus Kristol urges the party to get involved in this new kind of class war, to embrace the religious issues as their own, as the Democrats have for their secularist cultural left, or face the consequences (of the seriously religious and others supporting their positions realizing they are in fact without a party).
If the social conservatives determine that they in fact have no organized political spokesman, they will find one. However, this threat alone will not move many Republican leaders who have unwittingly bought much of the left's line on so called First Amendment issues. The need to see instead what wondrous things have been taken from us by types misusing the good name of liberty. Thus it behooves those like myself to attempt a teaching role that assures them that by taking up such issues they are standing foursquare within our Constitutional traditions and in fact battling for the good, the right, and the true.
Whatever the separation of church and state in America, government was never meant to be neutral toward basic moral values like truth, honesty, trust, self-reliance, and self-control which we thought necessary in forming a citizenry capable of producing and sustaining Republican institutions and prosperous economics. In fact as late as the late 1780's, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, friends of France, could say that the French were not yet ready for liberty because they simply were still just too "decadent."
The primary means of inculcating these values were through the home, the churches, and the schools, which were meant to reinforce each other. Government never doubted for a moment its responsibility to help in turn reinforce all three. The separation of God or religion from the society would have been thought disastrous. Benjamin Franklin, a deist, even housed and sponsored the prime revivalist of the Middle Colonies during the First Great Awakening, George Whitefield, because he thought it the best way of inducing good moral and proper behavior among the lax colonial citizens. He sponsored Whitefield at night, while arguing with him during the day.
Economic and moral advances are also related in a lot of complex ways. George Will, citing of the American Enterprise Institute's Christopher DeLuth writes "as early as 1800 the economic welfare of Western Europe and North America were improving much faster than that of Eastern Europe, Russia, or Latin America. The reason can be put in one word: culture."
In a powerful message to the misnamed multiculturalists, Francis Fukuyama well describes the importance of the religious link to our culture and morals and in turn, our economic dynamics:
Certainly freedom of religion did not mean in America freedom from religion in the public institutions of our nation. Schools, churches, and communities worked closely together without a national judiciary or national and state bureaucracies looking over their shoulders. The values of the various institutions intertwined with each other. When I was a schoolboy not only was their prayer at most school events, but Christmas and Easter plays were performed and Christmas carols were joyfully sung together, basically a wonderful celebration of an organically developed culture.
At our school we also had, until we reached high school, a 45-50 minute period once a week where we sang the traditional songs of American culture from books like The Golden Book of Public Songs and All American Sings. We sang "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "Green Grow the Lilacs" and most of Stephen Foster songs, including "Old Black Joe." We sang songs of both sides of our Civil War: "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, The Boys are Marching," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Dixie," "The Bonnie Blue Flag," "Mama's Little Baby Loves Shortenin' Bread," and "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again." We sang "America," "America the Beautiful," and "Columbia, Gem of the Ocean!" We even sang songs from the British Isles: "Do ye kin John Peel," "The Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond," and "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-RA." We sang "Bicycle Built for Two," "Seeing Nellie Home," "The Sidewalks of New York." It was wonderful. My parents and grandparents had sung the same songs and I resent the passing of such activities in schools now taken over by the secularists. Do not think for a moment this was some kind of nationally imposed theocracy. Far from it. It was natural and spontaneous, sort of local option prayer and public and religious singing. As Irving Kristol notes, the public schools of Brooklyn were filled with celebration of Jewish holidays and Jewish songs.
But the situation just described is long gone now. For at least a quarter of a century the public square has been naked; neither God nor traditional moral teachings are allowed in. John Silber, President of Boston University, has noted that the far superior education that he and those of earlier generations received was keyed by the close connection of moral and intellectual content through The Gods of the Copybook Headings. As the children copied those old headings they became prepared for life, met head on the reality of death and "the condition by which people could achieve happiness in the awareness of death," learned the importance of virtue and achievement and the folly of idleness and pleasure-seeking. As they wrote their minds were shaped:
As Silber summarizes the education of the copybook headings "By introducing moral and spiritual reality into the education of the child, they expressed their concern with educating the child in all dimensions of reality to prepare children, in short, for a true and complete human experience." This heritage has largely been taken from us by the educational establishment and what Nathan Glazer calls "The Imperial Judiciary" and Harvard law professor Raoul Berger denotes Government by Judiciary. No Republican leader should be misled that U.S. Supreme Court decisions represent the real America. They have purposely separated us from our own heritage and our moral moorings. The First Amendment, you might recall, was to apply only to the National Government and Courts. The Bill of Rights was a states rights document whose genesis lay in the battle over the ratification of the Constitution and was designed to protect the states from National power, not vice versa. As Professor Berger so well describes it, the incorporation of certain Amendments to apply to states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was simply a device for ultraliberals to get their hands on the running of the state institutions. Alan Keyes has stated concerning the Littleton, Colorado school case that if anyone should be sued it is not the gun manufacturers, but the federal judges who have taken God out of the public schools. Ideas have consequences and we have been reaping the sad whirlwind for at least a quarter of a century. "Why don't we hear something about self-control and self- reliance? It's the TRADITIONAL SPRIRITUAL VALUES individuals need, not newly invented trendy ones," writes Kristol, who also understands that the reason prayer in the classroom has become so important is not as a thing in itself but "because our educational system, dominated by the teachers' unions, the schools of education, and the liberal politicians who count on their electoral support, is biased in an anti-religious way." He adds elsewhere,
As Gary Bauer has recently said, "There is a war on religion in public life in far too many legal quarters in America, specifically among our country's judicial elite." The last judicial travesty in this continuous secularist effort to rid us of God has occurred right here in Texas. A lower court has ruled in the Sante Fe Independent School District case that we can't pray at public school sporting events. A meditation from some supposedly great secular thinker is permitted, but God (or the secular state) help you if you as so much as let the name of God, much less Jesus Christ, slip in. Will Governor Bush, Lieutenant Governor Perry, or any Texas Republican leader fight to save Texas from this infamy! Regardless of any higher courts ruling or no ruling at all, will they have the courage to ask the Santa Fe School District for permission to lead a prayer at a Santa Fe home football game. Believe me, it will be a popular political act. We have come to this - killing unborn babies, affirming homosexuality, separating education's traditional interaction with church or synagogue, and destroying the local school's role as inculcator and supporter of the morals and the mores of the local community. Everything has been placed in the hands of a national educational elite and their so called "progressive" allies who have diligently worked to remove God from the Public Square and to promote value-neutral cant and moral relativism in the classroom. Wouldn't it be better, famed author Tom Clancy asks, to instruct children in the traditional meaning of right and wrong rather than "casting them adrift to find the worse ones on their own untutored accords."
Martin Gross calls the present period The End of Sanity. Will the Republican Party take the lead in returning the nation to sanity, in returning religion and God to the Public Square and moral teaching to our children? Statecraft is Soulcraft writes George Will. When will Republican leaders learn that? A nation's leadership should care about the moral health of its people and its children. To let the imperial judiciary dictate such important matters while a Republican president or Congress plays Pontius Pilate in the name of less government is irresponsibility of the highest order. "Most Republican leaders," writes Irving Kristol, "are risk-aversive in both temperament and policy. And in an era of ideological politics, the risk-aversive most emphatically do not inherit the earth." For once can we have a Republican leadership both energetic and bold that recognizes the moral and cultural abyss into which the nation has fallen? Let our party sound the call and comprise the front ranks of the march upward from the pit of secular relativism which causes doubt and despair in our children to a sense of joy, wonder, and hope found in a universe, world, and educational system grounded in ultimate meaning and truth.
A LESSON FROM CANADA
The situation developing now is not without precedent. The Whigs (previously the National Republicans), one of America's two parties during our 2nd party era (1828- 1856), disappeared within just 2 years after the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. The death by 1853 of the party's primary leaders, two of the greatest senators in our nation's history, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, had hurt them severely. Clay had shaped both The Missouri Compromise of 1820 and The Compromise of 1850. The party fragmented because it waffled on a moral issue whose time had finally come - slavery. The Whigs, to their credit, had attempted to be a national party in a time of great sectional conflict. When the usually sagacious Stephen Douglas pushed through the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Texas's own Sam Houston was the only Southern senator voting against it. This act effectively undid The Compromise of 1850 which had held the nation together (though again at the cost of slavery).
After the Kansas-Nebraska Act, many Whigs (including Lincoln) would leave their party and with the freesoilers help form (or later join) the Republican Party. A one- issue party which opposed slavery, the Republicans however had a radical and a moderate wing divided on the instrumentality of slavery's demise. The Republicans ran a full-fledged ticket in 1856 headed by the famous explorer John C. Fremont and did well. Then in 1860 it won with Abraham Lincoln at its head. The rest is history (as were the Whigs).
But perhaps a better parallel to what is now occurring within the Republican Party is the story of its sister party to the north, the Progressive Conservatives of Canada. The party of John A. MacDonald, the oft-cited Father of Canada and its first Prime Minister, the Progressive Conservatives have had a grand history as a national party in a nation without a great national consciousness. In the 1980's Brian Mulroney forged the disparate factions within the party together, promising the Western provinces he would not neglect them in his national policies. Mulroney performed a very delicate balancing act, keeping the support of the Western provinces that despised both Quebec and the national bilingual requirements, while within Quebec forming an alliance with a group of Quebec nationalists. Mulroney also forged with Ronald Reagan a Canadian - U.S. Free Trade agreement, a major accomplishment, although at the cost of many jobs in certain sectors of the Canadian economy. Still the party held 169 of the 295 seats in Parliament. Mulroney then almost brought off the Meech Lake Accords with Quebec, an attempt that cost him dearly in the Western provinces. The recession in Canada hanging on a little longer than in the U.S., the party approached the election of 1993 in a somber mood, expecting to lose to the Liberals as the governing party (but hardly foreseeing the harsher consequences). Kim Campbell became the Party's Prime Minister designate - an action akin to making Christine Todd Whitman the Republican candidate. Her nomination brought this comment from Bill Buckley's National Review (July 5, 1993) "Kim Campbell's election as leader of Canada's Progressive Conservative Party confirms that Bush Republican North is alive - but not particularly well." That turned out to be an understatement, but nobody, particularly Mulroney, expected what was to come. The Progressive Conservatives suffered the greatest loss in modern electoral history falling from 157 seats to only 2. The little noticed Reform Party leaped to 52 seats from 2. A new era in Canadian politics had begun.
The Reform Party has now raised its seat total to 60 and is the official opposition party to the governing Liberals. The Progressive Conservatives have never again gained more than 20 seats. Mulroney had also lost the support of his Quebec allies, who with others formed the Bloc Quebecois which holds 44 seats in the now 5 party Parliament. Quite a comedown for the party that had played the dominant role in Canadian history!
But why had this happened? A combination of two overlapping dynamics led to the debacle: (1) the party and its leaders had taken for granted and respectfully offended the party's base, the western conservatives, and (2) they had severely underestimated the appeal of Preston Manning and his Reform Party ideas on those same conservative members who felt (rightly) that their own party had tweaked its nose at them. Founded in 1987 as a protest against the neglect of the West and the continual rebuff of Manning's policy suggestions by the party leaders, especially by previous and potent conservative prime minister Joe Clark, the Reform Party had never won more than 2 seats in the national Parliament. To the Progressive Conservative leaders Manning was just a rather colorless Evangelical, although his dad had been a premier of Alberta and a leader of its Social Credit Party. But in 1993, western provincial conservatives deserted in droves to the Reform Party and they have stayed there.
And why in turn had this happened, a party's base usually being the last to leave? Basically the Progressive Conservatives simply refused to recognize and credit the grassroots discontent, and they had completely alienated the party's religious right, smaller than in the U.S. but still vocal. No sooner had Kim Campbell been appointed Prime Minister, itself a strong slap in the face of the party's base, than she expanded the rights of homosexuals while diminishing the rights of gun owners. Think of Alberta as Texas (or vice versa, as they insist) and you've got the picture. Canadian Business headlined the results as "the Revenge of Just Plain Folks" and that about says it all. Business reporter Michael Blaise confirmed that the party leaders seemed almost like 18th and 19th century patricians in that "their bias was toward distrust of common people." " 'Our time has come' cried some members of the Canadian Religious Right," as they voted strongly for the party of their fellow Evangelical, Preston Manning.
The other side of this picture was Preston Manning and his leadership's careful working of these same grassroots, appealing to them as friend to friend, Westerner to Westerner. Always a policy wonk, Manning had used radio talk shows, books and pamphlets by and about him, and church networking to form an almost unnoticed Western populist movement based on two principal ideas: (1) the people's will as expressed through procedural mechanisms such as initiative, referendum, and recall with representatives being forced to carefully following the wishes of the folks back home and (2) traditional family values stressing "the importance of the family unit to the well being of the provinces and the nation." A central plank of the Reform Party platform states "we believe in the traditional family as the basic unit of society. The party defines 'family' as individuals related by blood, marriage, or adoption, and defines 'marriage' as the legal union of two people of the opposite sex." (Manning also strongly opposes abortion and the increasing pro-homosexual decisions of the judiciary.) All of this and a bit of anti- French resentment made Reform suddenly a viable party. As National Review described the failure of the press, Canadian or American, to foresee the result: "Manning had been treated with contempt by Canada's Toronto dominated media. American commentators had hardly noticed him. Well, They Had Better Start Now!" NR's election article in fact began with a clear message to the Republican Party: "One stark lesson emerges from Canada's October 25th election. The Wages of Pragmatism are Death!"
And the results of that election have held. As National Review again comments on the former Progressive Conservative loyalists: "Disillusionment among the much betrayed conservative hard-core appears terminal." The results of the 1997 election increased Reform's hold on the West. Just as important, on college campuses from Manitoba to British Columbia, students with long-term family, even aristocratic, ties with the Progressive Conservatives have torn up or burned their Conservative Party membership cards, joined the Reform Party, and formed College Reform Clubs. (Apparently in the universities of the Western provinces, it's become chic to be hick.)
The Reform Party may never become a national party. Residents of Ontario find it hard trust an Albertan or vice versa. No Eastern province is going to vote for the Reform Party as such. However, the party will dominate the Western provinces and their members will not rejoin the old party. Attempts to form a United Alternative between the Reform Party and the Progressive Conservatives in the Eastern provinces have so far not gone well because of stylistic and personal differences. At this very moment things are very up in the air. Meanwhile, Reform Party members are having fun tweaking the mossback Conservatives with rules like "No suits at party gatherings" and the spontaneous singing of Western prairie songs and occasional hymns at meetings. Thirty percent of Reform candidates are evangelical Christians. Old Conservative leader Joe Clark, who had shunned Preston Manning in the first place, has absolutely refused to meet with "those regionalists" whom he considers "nothing but a bunch of unwashed prairie populists" - statements not exactly calculated to induce unity, confidence, respect, or much of anything else! It was this type of arrogance that drove "the reformers" out in the first place and will do nothing for the plight of Canada now.
The ultimate cost of the Progressive Conservative debacle could be far higher - the separation of Quebec and ultimately the further fragmentation of Canada itself. The sad thing is that it didn't have to happen. The Progressive Conservatives were not swamped by "The Hegelian March of History." It was their own stupidity, their own callousness, their haughtiness, and their own class and anti-religious biases which did them in and led to the loss of constituencies they could have made their own. The lesson for Republicans in America should be obvious.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
... I am asking you to disavow cultural correctness with massive disobedience of rogue authority, social directives and onerous law that weaken personal freedom. But be careful...it hurts. Disobedience demands that you put yourself at risk. You must be willing to be humiliated...to endure the modern-day equivalent of the police dogs at Montgomery and the water cannons at Selma.
The present battle going on is really that for the soul of the Republican Party. Will it make the mistake of Canada's Progressive Conservative Party? Will it politically take on the issues of the social/cultural wars or not? Will it have the guts to reestablish the connection between the schools and the traditional roots of our country? Will it help make the long-lost platitudes of God, Motherhood, and Apple Pie celebratory themes of this party and nation? Might it call, perhaps starting in Texas, for even civil disobedience by principals, superintendents, student bodies, and whole populaces (perhaps even the Governor) to return our normal cultural life of God-centered prayer at our sporting events and the graduation of our children? Will we help restore the Ten Commandments to the classroom? Will we stop anti-religious propaganda in the public schools? Will we if necessary follow the lead of a Charlton Heston?
Will we also oppose intrusive and totalitarian political correctness at our public institutions, collegiate and secondary, restoring disciplined education and standards once again? Will we, as Thomas Sowell declares, meet head to head the shock troops of the counterculture and heed his warning that "if you are not prepared to root it out, you are just wasting your time and kidding yourself?" Will we take on the excesses of feminism and the failure of male leadership and help encourage and restore the proper distinction between the sexes and make the restoration of the traditional family the centerpiece of our social policy? Will we stand unquestionably against pornography and the glorification of the homosexual lifestyle? Will we forthrightly address the illegitimacy and fatherhood crisis? In general, will we as a party begin to prevent the spreading dehumanization of our culture and become the party of social-cultural renewal? If we will not, the time is past for us to call ourselves the party of family values. As Tom Sowell has said we can come from behind "only if we realize we are behind and that it is the bottom of the ninth." While social and cultural organizations form to combat the deeper and nonpolitical dimensions of the increasing nihilism of our society, will the Republican Party stop playing like the game is only in the fourth inning with the possibility of the game being called because of rain? What an opportunity for the party to step forward to rally the renewal of our roots of community and the wellsprings of our spirit. People are ready for something like this done rightly. A strong majority of Americans think the decline of moral values is our most serious problem, and they are right!
Over the next several years such questions will become increasingly important for the party and the nation. Two things are absolutely minimal for the party at its 2000 convention. If there is not a strong pro-life plank in the platform, then forget it! The party will be over for a lot of people (Even, I would hope, for some of the good Christian leaders who love to sit at the tables of power and bask in the glow of attention). And I would think by the time of the convention there will be the same kind of groundswell for a specific plank (a la Canada's Reform Party) affirming and defining the traditional family as the "basic social unit of society." The party leaders should realize that these planks should be foregone conclusions by the time of the 2000 convention. This equivocation is an open invitation to a lot of mischief. Both the presidential and vice presidential nominees should be believably pro-life with some indication they have a bit of passion about it. (For instance, "While it is true the Human Life Amendment could probably not pass at the present time, we must pledge ourselves as a nation to ending the moral outrage of abortion.")
The convention speakers should also include some of the more astute seers of our cultural plight, ones who know how to spin a story with a concern for the emptiness of modern hearts in a culture that has lost a sense of purpose. We should also at the convention make the Santa Fe School case forbidding prayer in the name of God at public sporting events "our issue."
In a word, the Republican Party should make the 2000 convention a replay of Reagan's 1980 family, community, and religious themes and then some. Irving Kristol, the founder of neo-conservatism and not a member of the religious right, has urged the Republican Party to take on the Democratic Party's "powerful animus against the dominant traditional beliefs, especially religious beliefs" and to rally the nation against the ACLU and the NEA who "represent this ideology...[and] are comfortable banning the Ten Commandments from the classroom but don't mind feminist or homosexual art," and who are busily promoting Heather has Two Mommies, and the idea that homosexual couplings are the equivalent of heterosexual marriage. Kristol again goes on to further support his argument about the secularist nature of the Democratic Party, and then makes this particularly timely observation:
And so it has. Resistance has not yet crumbled, but if it doesn't do so soon, the Republican Party stands a good chance of going the way of the Whigs or of Canada's Progressive Conservative Party. The Republican National Committee and the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee's sycophancy and favoritism toward Christine Todd Whitman have not, for instance, gone unnoticed.
So let our party engage in a celebration of life by showcasing, for example, two Catholic ethnic couples (say Polish and Hispanic) and their families, especially the newborn. Let's give a symbolic message that says having babies is good not bad, that babies are themselves a precious gift, and that people are God's primary product or in the late professor Julian Simon's words The Ultimate Resource. That scenario certainly would make for a wholesome change, and if done right, will touch the hearts of the nation while infuriating a lot of the press, who would rather we showcase a lesbian couple (which if we get lucky, the Democratic Party may do). And if we won't play at the propitious moment a verse of Ave Maria and Amazing Grace, then at least we should have the whole convention sing America in primetime. Love for this nation and the idea that it is good still lives in the souls of the American people, and they still like the notion of a communal connection with God.
Whoever gets the nomination should step out boldly, join hands with the social conservatives in assuring the nation that life is worth living, that human life is unbelievably precious, that God is in his heaven and, if we'll just harken to Him a bit, this nation's family and social life will begin to heal, little by little, so that we can again feel all is right with the world. If there is pussyfooting, an attempt to treat these issues as unimportant, if it is assumed the social conservatives will go along to get along, and no believable commitment is made to address the deeper troubles, then the year 2000 will be the beginning of the disintegration of the Republican Party as we have known it. Remember Irving Kristol's earlier statement. In speaking of people concerned about the religious and social issues, Kristol warns "...if the Republican Party keeps them at arms length instead of embracing them, a third party and the restructuring of American politics are certain."
Thus the years 2000-2004 will be propitious years for the Republican Party and the various groups and movements which have found a home in it. We can only hope that the candidates and party leaders will harken to the concerns raised here. God does in fact exist and we should affirm Him as a people and as a nation. We must let Him back into our schools and into our hearts so that He may heal us and heal this land. We must reject and overcome the forces which forbid the mentioning of God in the public square, and do what in decades before we have always done, place Him at the center of that square and of the nation's life.
Confessing Christians must be happy warriors, but must still be warriors. While cooperating with others on common goals, remembering God's graciousness to us who have no special merit in ourselves, we must also not allow ourselves to be used as doormats. If in 2000 and in the years immediately following, the Republican Party turns its back these concerns, then it will have left us and we shall have no choice but to turn our backs on it. ("If the salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted?" Matt: 5:13). And we shall be successful. In the words of the old Nelson Eddy song:
Start me with 10 who are stouthearted men
So, back again to the beginning. No, Ma'am, the battle is not over. In fact it has only begun. The only question left is who, which institutions, and which party, if any, will wage it?
The situation with Bush this year is very different. While I personally believe George W. Bush is more trustworthy than either Dole, Bush's stand on the platform plank on abortion and his ensuing Houdini act renders Pat Robertson's and the Christian Coalition's support foolish and nonproductive. As on many issues, Bush would be better served in the long run by making his position clearer. But NRL and the Christian Coalition give him no incentive to do so. In my opinion they have failed us and him by their stance.
NRL, on the other hand, was, in my opinion, stained almost from the beginning. Their hyper-legal and non-confrontational approach hindered the appearance of public moral indignation just at a time when that very expression could well have halted Roe v. Wade right in its tracks. Their style and approach both then and now (as per George W. Bush) have hindered the cause much more than their often excellent publications have helped it.
Two other events should give Ponnuru, NRL, and even the Christian Coalition second thoughts on strategies and positions depending on the party organizational leaders either being "our friends" or "seeing the light." The Republican National Committee and the Senate Republican Campaign committees' falling all over Christine Todd Whitman so obsequiously is just the thing guaranteed to cause deep suspicions (and it has!). It was just stupid. Then there is the May 17, 1999 U.S. News and World Report piece entitled "The Abortion Conflict Shows Signs of Softening." It is the actions of groups like NRL and The Christian Coalition that has given rise to this perception just at the time of their position's greatest strength. The article points out that the "Christian Coalition has endorsed Bush's stance, signaling that the abortion issue is losing its ability to divide voters." This article illustrates exactly what I've been saying. It points out that Governor Jim Gilmore of Virginia has staked out the perfect middle ground position - opposed to Roe V. Wade but accepting it as the law of the land - and that "Many GOP candidates have followed this lead." If any pro-life or Christian groups let those candidates get away with this, then they deserve whatever happens. But if these two incidents do not convince anybody that the candidates and the party leaders will go on doing what they want to do if left to themselves I don't know what will. And we should expect that. This is no time to be cute. If we or our erstwhile leaders do not push our positions and demands forward then who will? These people are "inside the beltway" politicians for God's sake. And as party professionals they would love to have the support of both sides on this matter. If we do not in no uncertain terms either receive a private pledge (with either 10 witnesses or a statement signed in triplicate) or make a credible threat about what will happen if there is a pro-choice VP candidate, then we both make such a choice more likely and lose credibility with the press and the public for any threatened after the fact action. Ponnuru also makes the point that "if the platform changes, it will be because pro- lifers have concluded that a change will make it easier to advance the cause." I hope he's right about social conservatives themselves having the ultimate say. And if they keep their guard up they should indeed be able to be a dominant force at the convention. Ponnuru recommends that they should endorse a platform change. If he means (as I think he does) a change to something like declaring abortion a moral evil and pledging the party to its ultimate abolition, then I strongly support his position. If a platform change means just taking out any pro-life reference or making some conciliatory "there are good people on both sides of the questions" statement then that is completely unacceptable. Any pro-life leader (or organization) who permits that to happen should have his or her head examined (and be removed from any leadership position).