I have to read with some amusement  D.J. McGuire’s opinion that Donald J. Trump should resign for the reasons Democrats have thus far proffered. In fact, it’s one of the more ridiculous suggestions I have heard thus far. The executive office has the unmitigated right to exercise its authority regardless as to whether or not the individuals involved are the embodiment of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “senator’s son”:
Now that the conservative movement is practically shattered in Virginia thanks to infighting, more infighting, and as we can see in Virginia’s 5th District even further infighting — one has to ask what the hell is the matter with us?
The Democrats are running to radically transform the Commonwealth of Virginia. Not just a little bit, but a lot. Our majority in the House of Delegates should be every Republican’s core concern right now, and should we lose that fight? Not only will redistricting send us back to the old Byrd Machine (with lines drawn by Byrd Machine Democrats) but the introduction of forced unionism, the end of right to work, the war against cheap energy and the obliteration of school choice looms in the distance. Not just looms… but it’s happening and there won’t be a single thing Republican families can do about it.
There are forces more than happy to watch this all burn for the sake of ruling the ashes — in the minority, of course. Having vanquished the conservative right, the nationalist right is about to square off between its libertarian and populist camps… which means that even after surrendering every statewide office, surrendering the Virginia Senate and losing the congressional delegation, we are more than happy to concede the Virginia House of Delegates if it serves the purposes of the few who really don’t give a damn what Republicans believe so long as we keep throwing money towards lost causes.
Yet after throwing out the moderates (Tom Davis), and now throwing out the social conservatives (Eric Cantor), and throwing out the reformicons (Ed Gillespie) we are now watching in real time as we continue to forfeit seats in an effort to drive out those pesky social conservatives once and for all — adopting a more rigidly libertarian perspective in the hopes that folks in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads might come along for the ride.
That would be a catastrophic mistake. Not only would it enshrine the current dialectic between two amoral political philosophies, it would remove social conservatives from the equation altogether — and instead of offering them a choice between right and wrong, offer them a choice between stability and instability that the Democrats would handily win.
Part of the problem with the libertarian viewpoint is that it concedes most (if not all) of the social issues with which many conservatives — rightly, one might add — concern themselves.
The hard truth is that lawmaking is an inherently moral process. One enacts moral laws, rejects immoral ones, and our lawmakers are routinely asked to discern between the two. Faith is inseparable from one’s character, and we would be both reckless and irresponsible to ask lawmakers to check their faith at the courthouse or statehouse door.
Part of the problem with today’s Republican Party is that the old conservative alliance is dead. What remains can be best exemplified in Virginia’s 5th District, where Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA) presided over a wedding between two men where the Washington Post was invited to cover the event.
I’ll save readers from wondering where I stand on the matter. As a Catholic, I viscerally disagree; as a Virginian, I care a bit less. Nevertheless, what should concern Republicans more is the discussion that ensures afterwards from the more libertarian quadrant of the coalition — that social issues are dead and social conservatives simply need to get over it.
Leave aside for the moment that such questions — whether it is homosexual marriage or abortion — are not “settled” questions in the slightest. Let’s raise the point instead that these are indeed questions, ones where leftists bypassed the deliberative structure of the legislature in order to impose the fiat of the judicial courts.
If you want to understand what makes the Trump voter tick, it has a great deal to do with a small clique of so-called educated elites telling the rest of us what to do, how to live, what to eat, how to drive — even to the point of determining which values we hold are approbative or detrimental.
This raises a point vis a vis l’affaire Riggleman, and it is this: that if our social issues are no longer up for debate, and further if the debates on these questions are over? What precisely is keeping “social conservatives” in the Republican Party?
Here is where the grand fight for the future of the Republican Party goes astray. Certainly I empathize with a great deal of what the liberty movement represents — as an old Ron Paul hack, I look around at all the young whippersnappers and wonder where they hell they were in 2008. But I digress… the question here revolves around whether or not the government can legislate morality.
The answer is an unequivocal yes.
Certainly the political left in this country believes this, even if they have rocked themselves to sleep pretending that secular religions have some sort of moral predominance over sacred ones. But I would rather make a more radical point: liberty is indeed a moral claim.
Not only is liberty a moral claim, but it is the balance between tyranny on one hand and license. More specifically, it is the balance that determines self-control. With self-control, we have liberty. Too much subsidization from the state, and we get tyranny; too little subsidization and we arrive at license.
The immediate response is as old as Aldasair MacIntyre in his epic book  Whose Justice; Which Rationality? which ought to be shelved directly next to one’s copy of Frederic Bastiat’s The Law. Libertarianism may be a tradition indeed, but if artificially divorced from values and morality, it is utterly doomed to fail just like every other godless ideology.
Divorced from morality? Allow me to present the current structure of the debate in Virginia as presented by both parties — or as the libertarian wing of the GOP seems to demand social conservatives to rest:
|Education||No amount too high to spend on a quality public education!||We kinda agree… but we will spend it better! Until we don’t that is…|
|Transportation||No amount too high to spend on making sure you can get to a good paying job!||I mean, roads create growth and all that… and that brings in more Democrats…|
|Job Creation||How does a $15/hr minimum wage sound?||Minimum wages are socialism!|
|Welfare State||When you get old are disabled, there will be a basic safety net to provide for you and your family.||Welfare states are socialism! Medicare is socialism! Social security is socialism!|
|What the future must sound like to other people…||Star Trek||Fallout|
Bear in mind — morality cannot be divorced from politics as we explained above. Yet if you are a family with deep moral and religious convictions, which party offers you and yours the best chance to flourish?
If morality is divorced from politics, where do libertarians truly believe young families will go to vote their values? It will be to the party that preserves stability vs. the party that promises instability. Either liberty is the right to do as we ought, or liberty is a meaningless and empty phrase that temporarily transfers
You want to know what keeps some folks engaged?
That babies really do have the basic right to exist. That marriage has a definition. That every child has a right to their biological mother and biological father, and that those rights are best protected in a traditional family. That parents — not the state — are the primary educators of their children.
That tradition and morality matter in a civil society. That pluralism means not only that we don’t all agree, and more that we don’t have to agree, but rather that it is good that we do not all agree — and that such a value makes us stronger, not weaker. That we really can judge a society on the condition of our prisons. That education matters, whether it is public, private, parochial or home schooled.
That hailing from different faith traditions, backgrounds, social classes, income levels and ethnicities makes the world a better and stronger place. That human beings no matter what their stage of development are to be treated with the dignity they deserve as human beings.
That America really is the last, best hope for human freedom on this earth. That nowhere is it written that America has to continue forever, and that we either protect this last great hope to our utmost or we condemn our children and grandchildren to take that first step into a thousand years of darkness.
…and that’s the reason why social values matter, folks. Not just because of some sort of abstract Election Day mathematics, but because the very moment you divorce politics from meaning and turn it into a game of economics? Folks who believe in freedom lose… we lose a lot.
Such a viewpoint radically transforms that dynamic above, precisely because it is no longer concerned with the greatest good, or even a common good — but the highest good.
The moment we forget that is the moment liberty becomes a byword for a moral compass that points at themselves. If Nash’s Equilibrium has taught us anything , it is that humanity does best when we do what is best for ourselves and those around us — both/and and not either/or.
That idea of “best” isn’t merely a material question. It is a deeply ethical and moral question, and if we aren’t fighting for that? Then we are simply fighting for things… in which case, why not vote for the voices that offer to give us more rather than less?
Quibbling over Trump is simply that. In a post-Kavanaugh world, most conservatives understand something deeply visceral: that the left really does hate us and will do and say anything to destroy us, and that they’re not really after Trump — they’re after YOU.
Trump may not be a perfect man, but many of his supporters voted for him knowing full well who and what he was. Given that the Democrats have practically abandoned all pretense to civility and honor in the public square? Why should Trump supporters hold themselves — or the president — to a false standard?
…but do not kid yourselves about what comes next. Either we are doing this for the right reasons, or we are simply watching two political religions squabble for power… and I have no stomach for the latter.