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Fusionism Is Dead! Long Live … What?

Someone on my Twitter feed posted a link to this Dan Scotto essay from September [1]. In it, he autopsies the death of conservative fusionism, and speculates about what might follow it. “Fusionism,” in case you don’t know, was the guiding ideology of the US political Right for the last half-century, fusing together social conservatives, pro-business factions, anti-statists, and national security hawks in a durable coalition. But it began to break apart after the fall of the Soviet Union, and now the rise of Trump has pretty much destroyed it. So what’s next for the Right? Excerpt:

Six months into Trump’s tenure, the fractures on the Right are best identified by how they feel about Trump himself, and how they feel about the Left. There is some overlap between the groups, but most public figures can fall primarily into one group or another.

The Institutionalist Right sees the greatest threat from Trump as beyond specific policies and more about the challenge he presents to the governmental system over which he presides. They fear both Trump and the consequences of the system reacting to him. In particular, there is a lot of focus on the separation of powers, the rule of law, and the efficient administration of the bureaucracy. What they objected to about Obama with respect to governance, Trump has escalated by orders of magnitude. Ben Sasse is probably the most prominent figure from this faction. It’s also probably the smallest segment, and the one that faces the toughest challenge in making the rhetorical case. It probably needs to co-opt another faction or find a sympathetic leader in another faction to hold influence beyond some very small fringes.

The Libertarian Right opposes Trump on economics, generally, with an emphasis on his disgust for free trade, and his rhetorical support for police brutality. (Immigration is much more of a mixed bag here.) They oppose the Left on the size and scope of government, and tax policy. Jeff Flake has been a leader here, with Rand Paul in and out depending on the issue.

The Fusionist Right opposes Trump for not being a movement conservative and rejecting the old three-legged stool of Reaganism. Dan McLaughlin and Jonah Goldberg are probably the two most prominent conservative writers here; Trump’s most vocal conservative opponents over 40 tend to fall in this group, with their fellow Gen-Xers Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio hanging around as well.

The Moderate Right opposes Trump for his personal failings, his vulgarity, and his support for policies they view as cruel, particularly on immigration and health care. From the pundit class, I’d put Ana Navarro and Michael Gerson here. Among elected officials, John Kasich has laid down a marker.

The Nationalist Right largely supports Trump’s priorities but would object to the fundamental incompetence sabotaging his program. They oppose the Left for failing to prioritize what they see as America’s national interests, putting the interests of “cosmopolitan elites” ahead of traditional American values. Tom Cotton is striving to lead this group, and Jeff Sessions is a member in good standing. A lot of talk radio has moved in this direction, now that the opportunity is there.

Do you see who’s missing? The Religious Right. I suppose you could fault Scotto for being blind to the Religious Right, but I think it’s probably more truthful to say that the Religious Right is only a shadow of its former self, and its most powerful segment, politically engaged white Evangelicals, has been almost fully absorbed into the Nationalist Right.

But what about religious conservatives who cast our votes primarily based on social and religious conviction, and who are either not supporters of Trump, or lukewarm at best on him? Have we ceased to be any kind of discrete group on the Right? Have we been absorbed into one of Scotto’s factions? It seems pretty clear that we have. Ask yourself: is there a Republican politician who could be considered a leader of the social and/or religious conservatives? I can think of a number of Republican politicians who are religious and/or social conservatives, but none whose public identity is primarily based on their social views. Maybe I’m overlooking some folks, but I can’t think of any prominent Republican politicians in the past who have been primarily seen as champions of socially conservative causes. I suppose this is because fusionism meant that social conservatism was mainstream conservatism by implication.

But now? See, this is why the Indiana RFRA debacle in 2015 was such a bellwether for the Right. Back in 2015, in the immediate aftermath of the GOP-led state caving on its RFRA law under Big Business pressure, Ross Douthat wrote that the political landscape for religious and social conservatives was now very different, and posed a serious of questions about the place of religious and social conservatism in the rapidly-evolving landscape. [2]

It’s worth re-reading that list today, because those questions are all still very much alive — and it’s hard to have confidence at all that conservatives might prevail, even in just holding our own. Ask yourself: how likely are Republicans at the national level to spend down political capital defending religious liberty under these circumstances? Answer: about as likely as religious conservative voters are to vote Democratic. Republican politicians who want to have a future know which way the wind is blowing, culturally and politically. I think they are intellectual and moral cowards for not mounting a vigorous defense of the importance of religious liberty as a bedrock American value, but I can’t deny that to do so would cost them a lot. You simply cannot compete with the Civil Rights Movement narrative. Not only do most Americans now support same-sex marriage, but most of them oppose giving religious business people an exemption [3]from having to serve gay couples.

The polling question is crude. I’m against same-sex marriage, and in favor of strong  religious exemptions — but even I would limit them. For example, I would favor an exemption for florists and wedding cake bakers, but would oppose a blanket exemption giving business owners the right to refuse gay customers across the board. The poll does not measure those fine distinctions. Still, I don’t think most Americans think about the issue in that level of detail, and our news media certainly aren’t interested in informing them. Bottom line: in our culture, homosexuality is increasingly seen as like race — and where the culture is going, so too will law. Religious conservatives are now and are increasingly going to be considered in the same category as segregationists. 

That being the case, ask yourself: what kind of Republican politician can build a national career as a “segregationist”? You might get yourself elected Senator from Alabama, but you aren’t going anywhere beyond that. The thing is, this narrative ought to have been confronted years ago, but now, it’s hard to see that it’s going to be reversed. This is a political reality. We religious conservatives find ourselves in the same position, roughly, that gays and lesbians did 20 years ago: dependent on courts to guard our rights, given the unpopularity of our views.

All of this is to say that the Religious Right — the so-called “values voters” — really don’t exist anymore as a discrete nationwide force. The two issues that have defined us politically — abortion and sexuality — don’t have the salience that they used to. We lost the sexuality argument, and continue to lose it. Though abortion continues to be a potent issue, and one in which we are not losing ground, I have my doubts as to how many people decide their votes based on it alone. I mean, I know personally lots of people who do, and I’d guess that a fair number of this blog’s readers do, but my sense is that it is not the make-or-break issue that it has been for most of my adult life. It’s not that abortion isn’t an important issue to conservative voters, but rather my sense that its power has declined relative to other issues. I still believe it would be hard to mount a successful GOP presidential primary campaign as a pro-choice Republican, but I think it would be a lot easier today than it once was. Trump proves that, not because he’s pro-choice (he says he is pro-life, and whether or not he means it, he’s going to govern that way), but because he has shown how little GOP post-Reagan orthodoxies matter.

That’s a lot of verbiage to explain why I think it’s accurate for Scotto to have excluded the Religious Right from his list above. Go back and read the entire Scotto post. [1] His core contention is that this taxonomy ultimately doesn’t matter in the real political world:

But we should return to our original point: these ideological objections to Trump and spins on conservatism are not what will move voters; what will move voters will be the ability of candidates to demonstrate affinities with voters and respect for their priorities. The policies they proffer must fit into that context; those that push policies that do not meet those minimal thresholds will be punished. Our debates are important to set the stage, but they are the equivalent of an athlete doing strength training in the offseason. The game itself–the political arena–requires a connection to the voters, the ones that generally don’t care much about ideology.

Scotto says that the future of the Right belongs not to the person who can cobble together the most appealing ideological package, but rather to the person who can best identify the things actual voters care about, and articulate a compelling vision that speaks to those concerns. Trump is not really that person, says Scotto, because of his enduring unpopularity. But Trump has shown how little ideology matters now, even when standing for and defending certain ideological principles may truly be important.

“This is tragic, but it is mass democracy in an era of limited civic engagement and civic responsibility,” he writes. “We reap what we sow.”

How many conservative voters really care about religious liberty? I think protecting it ought to be a top priority, even for conservatives who favor gay marriage. It’s a fundamental First Amendment issue. But it isn’t. Look at this Pew polling data on issues that were most important to 2016 voters. [4] Abortion and LGBT issues are way down the list (but LGBT is a lot more important to Millennials, note well). Religious liberty was not on the list, apparently, but a subsequent Pew poll [5] focusing on religious liberty shows that half or more of Americans believe that nondiscrimination is more important that religious liberty. Take a look too at these other Pew numbers [6] showing that even among self-described Republicans, majorities of Gen Xers and Millennials favor same-sex marriage. There is no reason to believe that these numbers will improve for religious liberty defenders. For them to improve would require conservatives (and others) to be able to accept that religious liberty is such an important right that it ought to be defended even when it defends what one considers to be bigotry. Politically, that’s an impossible thing to sell in America.

Now, from a purely political point of view, it makes sense for what’s left of the Religious Right to align itself with the Nationalist Right. Given its priorities, the Nationalist Right is the faction most likely to advance our interests, or at least protect us. If you think Institutionalist and Fusionist Republicans are going to stand by religious conservatives against Big Business, you should have left your naivety behind in Indiana two years ago. But from the point of view of theological integrity and credible witness, aligning closely with the Nationalist Right is likely to be a disaster.

 

 

180 Comments (Open | Close)

180 Comments To "Fusionism Is Dead! Long Live … What?"

#1 Comment By mrscracker On January 2, 2018 @ 10:35 am

VikingLS says:

“Never forget you have no idea who you are talking to online.”
*************
That’s a very good point & I think if folks were all communicating in person they’d be much more respectful.
I was reading a national newspaper online once & realized later that one of the comments to an article was made by my son.
I think we should always assume the best in others even if they disagree on issues. Charity’s awfully important to communicate ideas. I heard someone say that love/charity builds the bridge that truth can cross over. When we don’t respond or listen to others in charity, we lose that connection.

#2 Comment By KD On January 2, 2018 @ 11:00 am

Some links:

[7]

[8]

[9]

[10]

[11]

[12]

[13]

Note that reviewing the literature, one finds some outliers as well as some issues around measurement and definition. However, on the whole, ethnic diversity does not look positive on the basis of human health, economy, good government, and peace and security.

#3 Comment By Franklin Evans On January 2, 2018 @ 11:56 am

When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movement becomes headlong – faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thought of obstacles and forget that a precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.

— Frank Herbert, Dune and various other novels.

#4 Comment By Ben H On January 2, 2018 @ 12:00 pm

The question for conservatives is: do you love America the country or America the empire? – because you can’t have both.

#5 Comment By MichaelGC On January 2, 2018 @ 3:32 pm

Siarlys Jenkins says on January 1, 2018 at 4:24 pm:

MichaelGC… instead of telling us once again “This law is REAL,” perhaps you could give us a citation so we could look it up, or even better, follow the citation, date passed by congress, etc. with a published synopsis. I remain doubtful that such a statute exists, and courts cannot make an act criminal without a law that in some fashion, however vague, specifies a crime. So far, you are a very uninformative messenger, waving vague allusions without any substance.

Sure thing, Siarlys, my bad. This isn’t Congress we are talking about, though, but (who else?) California.

Here are applicable excerpts from [14], as signed by Governor Jerry Brown on October 4, 2014:

Existing law provides for the licensure and regulation by the State Department of Public Health of health facilities, including skilled nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities. A violation of these provisions is a crime. Existing law, the Long-Term Care, Health, Safety, and Security Act of 1973, imposes various requirements on long-term health care facilities, as defined, and prescribes the civil penalties assessed for a violation of those requirements.

Existing law, the California Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly Act, provides for the licensure and regulation of residential care facilities for the elderly by the State Department of Social Services. Under existing law, a person who violates the act, or who willfully or repeatedly violates any rule or regulation adopted under the act, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Existing law also provides for civil penalties for a violation of the act.

1439.51. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), it shall be unlawful for a long-term care facility or facility staff to take any of the following actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status:

(1) Deny admission to a long-term care facility, transfer or refuse to transfer a resident within a facility or to another facility, or discharge or evict a resident from a facility.

(2) Deny a request by residents to share a room.

(3) Where rooms are assigned by gender, assigning, reassigning, or refusing to assign a room to a transgender resident other than in accordance with the transgender resident’s gender identity, unless at the transgender resident’s request.

(4) Prohibit a resident from using, or harass a resident who seeks to use or does use, a restroom available to other persons of the same gender identity, regardless of whether the resident is making a gender transition or appears to be gender-nonconforming. Harassment includes, but is not limited to, requiring a resident to show identity documents in order to gain entrance to a restroom available to other persons of the same gender identity.

(5) Willfully and repeatedly fail to use a resident’s preferred name or pronouns after being clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns.

. . .

(b) This section shall not apply to the extent that it is incompatible with any professionally reasonable clinical judgment.

1439.54. A violation of this chapter shall be treated as a violation under Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 1250), Chapter 2.4 (commencing with Section 1417), or Chapter 3.2 (commencing with Section 1569).

[15]

CHAPTER 3.2. Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly [1569 – 1569.889]

ARTICLE 4. Offenses [1569.40 – 1569.495]

1569.40 (a) Any person who violates this chapter, or who willfully or repeatedly violates any rule or regulation
adopted under this chapter, is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not
to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000), by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed one year, or
by both the fine and imprisonment.

Again, notice how this extreme nanny law absolutely could care less about whether a woman born woman is forced to share a room with a male because of what he indentifies as, but stipulates that everyone around him must be minutely attentive to his precious little fee-fees.

#6 Comment By MichaelGC On January 2, 2018 @ 3:57 pm

JonF says on January 1, 2018 at 5:24 pm:

You should not be a messenger for untruths. There is no such law in regard for “chosen pronouns”. It is true that public authorities are required to accept and record assigned genders not birth genders, but private citizens (you and me, for example) will not be fined or sent to jail for saying “he” or “she”.

Read my response to Siarlys above. I made it very plain in my original post that the law applied to nursing home staff. It’s called the camel getting its nose into the tent. BTW, I don’t depend on Politifact to do my fact checking, as they are about as bad as Snopes.com. I would rather invest more time with Google and get to the source.

Again, why create needless discord by spreading the lies on others? It should suffice to say “I disagree with this law” and let it go at that.

I respect this blog and don’t put anything in here carelessly or sloppily. Also, I did say “I disagree with this law” but I did so in my own way, thank you very much.

#7 Comment By MichaelGC On January 2, 2018 @ 4:02 pm

Here are applicable excerpts from Senate Bill No. 219, as signed by Governor Jerry Brown on October 4, 2014:

That should read October 4, 2017.

#8 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 2, 2018 @ 8:14 pm

Obama backed rebels who killed a friend of mine’s mother coming out of church in Damascus. Where were you?

Viking, when you are not being incredibly sensible you indulge in some emotive statements asserting facts not in evidence. Before I took the above statement at face value, I would need to know:

1) What rebels, exactly, did the Obama administration back? Organizational names would be helpful, movements might suffice, but then its a little harder to connect specific acts to a “movement,” which is by nature rather inchoate and lacking in accountable leadership.

2) What act of violence occurred at, or immediately outside of, that church? The name of the church would of course be helpful. Also a date. Was your friend’s mother individually targeted, part of a general demographic that was gratuitously targeted, or present when some other person(s) or group was targeted?

3) How was the “backing” provided by “Obama” manifested in this specific incident?

I have no doubt your friend’s mother was killed leaving church, or that the act was one of criminal homicide. Its the other connections that don’t connect.

American policy toward Syria, and Libya, was incredibly confused, but then, so was the situation on the ground. There were fairly spontaneous mass protests against an entrenched dictatorship. There were various outside players trying to manipulate that to their own advantage, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to name two. There were jihadis who moved in to make use of the situation. There were rather feeble and ineffective efforts to form some kind of armed resistance of a more secular nature once the Assad regime made clear that they were prepared to shoot down any number of peaceful protesters. Then the Kurds, and the Sunnis in Hom made moves based on long-standing distinct interests.

I believe that Barack Obama became aware fairly early that the situation on the ground was not conducive to a clear course of action, and referred his own announced intention to congress because he wanted congress to either share responsibility for intervention, or make a decision not to authorize it.

#9 Comment By RP_McMurphy On January 3, 2018 @ 3:18 am

@Siarlys Jenkins:

“RP McMurphy and JimH would make a good comedy team, if their respective monologues weren’t so sad.”

And your contributions to this comment section would be a lot more enjoyable if they weren’t delivered in haughty prose and peppered with pseudo-intellectual navel-gazing. Here’s a terrific example, apropos nothing:

“Post-modernism is an oxymoron. You can’t be living tomorrow today. The time axis just doesn’t work like that.”

It’s not insightful, it’s not accurate, it’s not amusing, so why even say it?

“The reason we have a Civil Rights Act of 1964 is that overtly racist commercial practices did NOT provoke the revulsion of the entire community, and there is no reason to think they would universally do so today.”

Universally is doing a lot of heavy lifting. We’re well past 2004, to say nothing of 1964. The social/economic cost of being a bigot is much greater in the present day. As a reader of Mr. Dreher’s blog, you should be well aware of the immense pressure brought to bear against individuals who opt to make political/economic statements in favor of traditional norms of sexuality. In the realm of race, the pressure is orders of magnitude more intense. Think about the Charlottesville demonstrators. Those identified will never be employed by a commercial outfit of any scale.

Which is not to suggest that the Civil Rights Act is obsolete. Far from it. I’m simply pointing out that the opponents of political correctness and anti-discrimination laws are deluding themselves if they think that a favorable statutory revision or court ruling will bring back the bad ol’ days. What they’re really after (imho) is social acceptance, something no government body can confer.

#10 Comment By VikingLS On January 4, 2018 @ 10:20 am

@Siarlys

It was the FSA, which the US was backing. They shelled the church.

My point, and I thought I was clear about this, is that in a two party system you are going to be voting for a party that does some things you don’t approve of, but you may accept because of the alternative.

#11 Comment By Youknowho On January 4, 2018 @ 10:30 am

@MichaelIG

You said “nursing home staff” Proper addressing of the patients IS part of their professional ethics. This is part of what is required to make patients as comfortable as possible. Patients in nursing homes are in distressing circumstances already, and starting an argument with them as to their gender will not help. (and God knows that more than one patient there is delusional)

#12 Comment By Youknowho On January 4, 2018 @ 10:35 am

@Viking SL

Yeah, liberals and wars.

Because conservatives do not start wars?

Or they prefer overthrowing foreign governmetns that they do not like?

Have you heard of “the other 9/11”, that is when Allende fell thanks to the CIA, and Chile fell under Pinochet. You may have forgotten, but the Chileans do not.

So do not hit me with that club, because your side got as much blood on its hands.

#13 Comment By Youknowho On January 4, 2018 @ 10:42 am

@Oakinhouston

If VikingL will not compromise on pelvic matters, but will shrug off when poor people suffer from the policies of the party he backs, he has said what his priorities are.

And the rest of us for whom those things ARE priorities reserve the right to tell them that they lack compassion, and that they have not read Matthew 25:35-40 (among others), and how can they call themselves Christian when they latch on versicles of what St. Paul wrote, but disregard what Jesus said?

#14 Comment By VikingLS On January 4, 2018 @ 10:43 am

P.S. Siarlys

I did make an overstatement, the daughter of the killed woman is an acquaintance of mine, but “friend” is easier to say than “a woman I go to church with”.

And no I am not going to interrogate her to satisfy you this really happened. If you want to believe either she or I made it up, well you can believe that.

Unless you can read Arabic it would be nearly impossible for me to provide any evidence beyond my word on this anyway. English language media hardly kept track of every single bombing.

I really don’t know what I am supposed to say to you anyway. I could, if I spent a couple of hours gather links and sources and explain to you how I an others pretty accurately pointed out the direction events in Syria were going to go back in 2010, but I don’t have a couple of hours to spare today.

Anyway, like I said, that really wasn’t my point.

#15 Comment By JonF On January 4, 2018 @ 12:16 pm

Re: Read my response to Siarlys above.

I’ll go with the Politifact article, thank you. Your version (to be fair, I’ll call it Fox News’ version since I don’t want to accuse you of confecting falsehoods) has badly slanted the facts to produce an Outrage Tail.

Re: BTW, I don’t depend on Politifact to do my fact checking, as they are about as bad as Snopes.com. I would rather invest more time with Google and get to the source.

Apparently they are “bad” because they call rightwing outrage propaganda on its falsehoods? As for google searches, you can find anything you want via Google, true or false.

#16 Comment By JonF On January 4, 2018 @ 12:17 pm

Er, Outrage TALE.

#17 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 4, 2018 @ 2:03 pm

And no I am not going to interrogate her to satisfy you this really happened.

I’m sure it really happened, and I’m sure it was a crime. I said as much, quite explicitly. I don’t expect you to interrogate anyone. What I asked about was the gratuitous connection to Obama administration policy. Apparently you don’t want to answer that question.

(Reading further up, I find you actually did address the real question in another comment, briefly. “The FSA” was a rather amorphous designation, which is why John McCain never made much sense talking about how important it was to support them, whoever they were. If you meant, ‘Obama poured some money and training into a dense fog where nobody could really tell who opposed Assad for what, how effectively, or how often they were shooting each other, or for what reason’ I would agree with you.)

It’s not insightful, it’s not accurate, it’s not amusing, so why even say it?

It’s empirically accurate, and cuts through a lot of amorphous pontification and made-up terminology. The phrase “post-modern” is at best badly moored, since modernity shifts at the alarming rate of one minute per minute. Its a Humpty-Dumpty term meaning whatever the speaker chooses for it to mean. The very compound term “post-modern” indicates that someone realized that what had been termed “modern” was now “past” and would eventually be “ancient.”

As a reader of Mr. Dreher’s blog, you should be well aware of the immense pressure brought to bear against individuals who opt to make political/economic statements in favor of traditional norms of sexuality.

I make such statements all the time. But I live in the inner city, where this sort of political correctness doesn’t play well, although local politicians pay lip service to it, to keep their white allies and funding sources happy.

I’m simply pointing out that the opponents of political correctness and anti-discrimination laws are deluding themselves if they think that a favorable statutory revision or court ruling will bring back the bad ol’ days.

And I’m simply pointing out that you’re both wrong. A statutory revision will not bring things back to 1951, but there is not sufficient force of public opinion uniformly across the country to make it simply impossible for a Lester Maddox to refuse service to people of visible African descent if there is no force of law. Certainly there is not sufficient force of public opprobrium to put a baker out of business because he won’t do a custom work of art for a same sex marriage.

When writing about subjects where I’ve done my homework, I am indeed dismissive of vague pontifications based on little more than vacuous assumption or wishful thinking.

Comments by MichaelGC and JonF are getting a little tangled. For a few seconds, I thought JonF had responded to something I wrote, but I find JonF is responding to MichaelGC referencing his own response to me. Somewhere in the dim mists early up this thread, I had a notion MichaelGC had said that certain acts would be illegal across the country as of 1 Jan 2018. Now its clear, he just means California.

The citations Michael has now provided show clear cause for concern, but do not justify the blanket statement that freedom of speech has been subordinated to gender preference pronouns.

Youknowwho is correct that nursing home residents are often delusional in many ways, and that humoring them is often part of the job. So if the law says, you can’t give a nursing home resident a hard time over their preferred gender pronouns, that is not, in itself, much different than humoring a patient’s notion that they are the Emperor of Austria.

The matter of room assignment and use of shower facilities is, as always, the matter of greatest concern. The concern is over the rights of other patients, who may not want a body that is anatomically the opposite sex to the room-mate in the adjoining bed, or in the same shower. That no doubt will be litigated by anxious relatives.

Is this the camel getting its nose in the tent? To some extent, sure, but let’s face it, as long as a handful of people are parading around dressed as the opposite sex and there is no law suppressing the practice, we’ll have to deal with that. This is as good a venue as any to sort out the boundaries.

In the linked article, the sponsoring legislator’s defense of his bill is disturbing. He makes assumptions about the patent validity of an entire agenda that is not entirely valid.

#18 Comment By Dr. Diprospan On January 4, 2018 @ 2:50 pm

What?
Colossal productivity of Mr. Dreher, an affection for the “variety and mystery” of human existence, that’s what struck me always. However, publishing industry and think tanks have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics. Outside this alternative reality, the United States is a country dominated by a strong Christian religiosity. Within it, Christians are a persecuted minority. Outside the system, President Obama—whatever his policy errors—is a figure of imposing intellect and dignity. Within the system, he’s a pitiful nothing, unable to speak without a teleprompter, an affirmative-action phony doomed to inevitable defeat. Outside the system, social scientists worry that the U.S. is hardening into one of the most rigid class societies in the Western world, in which the children of the poor have less chance of escape than in France, Germany, or even Britain. Inside the system, the U.S. remains (to borrow the words of Senator Marco Rubio) “the only place in the world where it doesn’t matter who your parents were or where you came from.”
And yet, Christianity and Western Civilization are “unimaginable apart from one another” “All culture arises out of religion”. Kirk believed in a transcendent order.
He described it variously as based in tradition divine revelation
Kirk believed “when religious faith decays, culture must decline”.
Meanwhile, the energetic work of thinkers and journalists from the American Conservative convinces me of the opposite. As a man from the outside, I think Christian conservatives are the most promising and interesting unit in the world.
It’s just doomed to fuse everything else. We just have to figure out how to do itso on practice.

#19 Comment By MichaelGC On January 4, 2018 @ 7:29 pm

Youknowho says on January 4, 2018 at 10:30 am:

You said “nursing home staff” Proper addressing of the patients IS part of their professional ethics. This is part of what is required to make patients as comfortable as possible. Patients in nursing homes are in distressing circumstances already, and starting an argument with them as to their gender will not help. (and God knows that more than one patient there is delusional)

It is worth noting here that the ever burgeoning list of pronouns for trans, non-binary, gender-fluid or whatever are all 3rd person. Therefore, to be in violation of this law you do not have to be addressing anyone, just referring to a person who may not even be present. I wonder at people who are obsessed as to whether they are being called “she” rather than “he” when they are not around. I wonder even more at a legislature and a governor who would make someone a criminal over it.

#20 Comment By JonF On January 5, 2018 @ 12:53 pm

Re: It is worth noting here that the ever burgeoning list of pronouns for trans, non-binary, gender-fluid or whatever are all 3rd person.

To date there are exactly four third person pronouns (ignoring demonstratives, relatives, interrogatives and declined forms) that are accepted in either standard or colloquial English: He, she, it and they. That’s it. Yes, various creative people have proposed gender neutral pronouns in an attempt to change English into an animacy-gender language but none of these have gained any currency, in fact I have never heard or seen in casual written use any of these alternatives, and I do hang out with some fairly leftwing people online when I am not here.

#21 Comment By VikingLS On January 5, 2018 @ 1:33 pm

@Siarlys

“Reading further up, I find you actually did address the real question in another comment, briefly. “The FSA” was a rather amorphous designation, which is why John McCain never made much sense talking about how important it was to support them, whoever they were. If you meant, ‘Obama poured some money and training into a dense fog where nobody could really tell who opposed Assad for what, how effectively, or how often they were shooting each other, or for what reason’ I would agree with you.”

Okay, then say you’re sorry. I deserve it.

#22 Comment By VikingLS On January 5, 2018 @ 1:58 pm

@Siarlys

BTW you still got my point wrong anyway.

1) Primary point: Many of us voted for someone they had issues with because the alternative looked worse, and it’s unfair to pretend otherwise. I know you agree with that, and I’ve told you this REPEATEDLY now.

2) It would take time and expense for you to get caught up with where I came into the Syria story. Suffice it to say I am not faulting Obama because it was impossible to predict the direction the FSA would go, I am faulting him because it was blindingly obvious where they would go, he was told by both Syrian and international sources, and I CORRECTLY predicted the outcome 8 years ago. I can not believe I had better intel than the president of the United States.

#23 Comment By VikingLS On January 5, 2018 @ 2:06 pm

“If VikingL will not compromise on pelvic matters, but will shrug off when poor people suffer from the policies of the party he backs, he has said what his priorities are.”

Sigh,

1) Many people who should be alive now are dead because of the actions of the party you support in Ukraine, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Don’t try and shame me.

2) Again, don’t presume you know too much about people online. I supported gay marriage over 20 years ago.

Grow up.

#24 Comment By VikingLS On January 5, 2018 @ 2:12 pm

“So do not hit me with that club, because your side got as much blood on its hands.”

“My side” is Pat Buchanan’s side, not mainstream conservatism. Once again, don’t presume so much about strangers online. Anyway, if I WAS a mainstream conservative, they never even pretend to oppose war. Mainstream liberals do.

And you’re missing my point. Youknowwho, whyo do you keep doing this? You can just NOT call people hypocrites and accept that all of us have to compromise ourselves so long as we have a two party system.

Why can’t you do that?

That’s not rhetorical.

#25 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 5, 2018 @ 4:27 pm

I don’t believe you had good intel at all. I believe you made a call that had a 25 percent chance of being right, and as events turned out, it was. People win money at casinos on much worse odds.

As for your original point, yes, we agree on that. But you wrapped it in a dubious example, and you have now affirmed that on this, we disagree. I doubt either of us can offer proof beyond reasonable debate.

If I were sorry, I would say so. I appreciate that you clarified what you were trying to say.

#26 Comment By MichaelGC On January 5, 2018 @ 6:02 pm

JonF says on January 5, 2018 at 12:53 pm:

To date there are exactly four third person pronouns (ignoring demonstratives, relatives, interrogatives and declined forms) that are accepted in either standard or colloquial English: He, she, it and they. That’s it.

I agree, but there are some among us who are so very much more special than you, I, or anyone else that regular dictionary words just don’t cut it for them, and there are laws in several jurisdictions that back them up.

Yes, various creative people have proposed gender neutral pronouns in an attempt to change English into an animacy-gender language but none of these have gained any currency, in fact I have never heard or seen in casual written use any of these alternatives, and I do hang out with some fairly leftwing people online when I am not here.

Oh, dear. This is from the [16]

“Most individuals and many transgender people use female or male pronouns and titles. Some transgender and gender non-conforming people prefer to use pronouns other than he/him/his or she/her/hers, such as they/them/theirs or ze/hir.

#27 Comment By VikingLS On January 6, 2018 @ 1:50 am

“I don’t believe you had good intel at all. I believe you made a call that had a 25 percent chance of being right, and as events turned out, it was. People win money at casinos on much worse odds.”

Siarlys,

I had a front row seat to the AKP takeover of Turkey.

I just spent the last six years of my life training middle easterners every day.

I belong to the Antiochian Orthodox Church AKA the Syrian Orthodox Church. Trust me, we talk to each other.

I also read John Dolan heavily, who also personally knows the region, as well as being conversant in it’s history.

What happened in Syria is what the Assad Regime predicted, what the Russians predicted, what Dolan predicted, and what the Syrian Orthodox Christians predicted.

I didn’t just make a lucky guess. It would quite a bit of reading and listening to podcasts for you just to get up to speed with my secondhand knowledge here. Quite a bit of that is behind paywalls now, so it would also cost you money.

And for what? You’re angry because I said I knew more about something than you? I do.

You know more about the history of Marxism than me. It’s not my area. It would not upset me for you to just say that.

And no, I don’t think I had great intel about Syria either, but I had enough to call it right. That wasn’t just a matter of luck.

All these countries have a class of secular, liberal minded, western educated, very earnest young people who have grand dreams of tossing out the dictators and despots and bringing democracy to the people. They never take the countryside and the urban poor into account, and then quickly lose control of the situation when the uprisings happen.

Syria, for both sectarian and reasons relating to recent history was probably the LEAST likely place to expect any outcome other than a Sunni Islamist takeover to happen. I said that when the rising started. If you could go through the TAC archives, I even debated one of those earnest young Syrians here about it. (Where at this point I couldn’t tell you. I’ve been coming to TAC longer than Rod has blogged here.)

So NO Siarlys, I didn’t just get lucky.

Now for the fourth and final time, I was INTENTIONALLY giving an example of a hyperbolic statement with the initial anecdote and was up front about that.

Okay, I am done with you on this. Don’t try it again.

#28 Comment By Youknowho On January 6, 2018 @ 4:45 pm

@VikingSL

I do not like Pat Buchanan, and I have reason for it.

When Pat Buchanan worked for Nixon he was OK with the destabilization of Chile, leading to the overthrow of Allende, delivering the Chileans to the tender mercies of Pinochet.

When Pat Buchanan worked for Reagan, he was OK with the Condor Plan which meant that right wing dictatorships were given help to “neutralize” (read kill) opponents. He was OK with the embrace of Videla, and overlooking what happened to the “disappared” in Argentina.

But of course, it was all about Communism.

So, his latest conversion to morality in foreign affairs is not convincing.

I was a critic of the Iraq invasion – and I wish I had been more vocal of the Lybia intervention, but I was distracted by the local situation – you know, an inminent economic collapse, and because I knew that bad as the Democrats were, the Republicans were worse.

[NFR: Communism was real, and truly a menace. — RD]

#29 Comment By JonF On January 7, 2018 @ 7:39 am

Re: MichaelGC

Sigh. You citation does not refute what I said at all. Of course I have seen reference to such proposed pronouns– how else would I even know about them? What I said is that I have never heard or read anything where such pronouns were in regular and unforced use. So far they have not caught on. Languages do change of course, but the track record of such changes being imposed on high is a null set (other than adjustments to alphabets and spelling conventions). If someday English evolves naturally into a language with animacy gender only, I have no problem with that– there are and have been many languages of that sort and it says nothing about their conceptions of sex and politics– the ancient Etruscans were not a pack of radical feminists because they had one pronoun for people regardless of sex and one for non-living objects.
This Fox News outrage myth has been thoroughly debunked by several people here. Maybe it’s time to move on to other things?

#30 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 7, 2018 @ 11:08 pm

All these countries have a class of secular, liberal minded, western educated, very earnest young people who have grand dreams of tossing out the dictators and despots and bringing democracy to the people. They never take the countryside and the urban poor into account, and then quickly lose control of the situation when the uprisings happen.

On that we can entirely agree. Ditto for Libya. One of the lucky things about the American Revolution is that the people who engineered resistance to British authority WERE people who could turn out with guns — not the most professionally trained force in the world, but it was them or the British army, not a bunch of religious fanatics rushing in under cover of earnest intellectuals issuing manifestos. Clearly, in Syria and Libya, the earnest intellectuals were unarmed, and those with guns and propensity to use them filled the vacuum.

I’ll leave the rest for another day since its heated things up so much.

NFR: Communism was real, and truly a menace. — RD

That is sort of like asking “Do you believe in vaccination?” Yes, I believe it really happens, on a large scale. We can debate whether it is beneficial or hazardous, but it exists. Believe it. Certainly communism is/was real.

A menace? To what? Police are a menace to speeding drivers and burglars. Vicious, pathological police are a menace to innocent citizens. At its best, communism is a menace to unbridled capitalism. At its worst, communism has been a menace to a lot of people who just want to live their lives under whatever government. George Orwell was also real, and also a menace. (Read up on the Partido Obrero de Unification Marxista) which was claimed Orwell’s allegiance.)

Like many real phenomena, communism can also be used as an excuse or rationalization for actions which have nothing to do with communism.