The GOP’s Moral Bankruptcy
A senior Republican official — a conservative Christian — texted me yesterday to say:
So Franken and Conyers are out while the GOP is rallying to and will likely be stuck with Moore. I truly never thought I’d see the day when the GOP ceded the moral high ground to the Democrats on sexual ethics. I’m truly stunned.
I have a radical idea: Maybe Democrats can replace politicians who harass and abuse women with anyone other than an abuser. There are good men in the world. I married one. I’ve worked with many more. Do we really believe our talent pool will dry up and our caucus will be nonexistent once we kick out all the creepers? I don’t. What if protecting men who harass and abuse women isn’t actually good for women?
Maybe, just maybe, it’s only good for the men.
This year’s pervert purge has inspired many to look at uncomfortable truths about their heroes, their co-workers, and their values. The New York Times’s Michelle Goldberg repented of her support for Bill Clinton, writing a piece with a battering ram as a headline, “I believe Juanita.” For me, it’s been sinking in that the working white women who felt condescended to by affluent feminists voted, by significant margins, for an admitted sexual predator over the lady who’d not believe them if they were abused by someone she liked. Their choices don’t seem so ridiculous to me any longer.
Democrats sold our soul. Nothing makes that more clear than how women voted in the 2016 election.
I’m also no longer defending Bill Clinton. I’m ashamed I ever did. But I’m not condemning or admonishing Hillary. I think we all make the choices that seem right at the time. I don’t feel like pummeling her with my privilege of hindsight. But there’s a rot in the Democratic Party. It’s not just bad men and exhausted women; it’s that we chose Bill over the women. And that original sin lost us the election of what we all assumed would be the first female president of the United States. And Trump, who boasted he could “grab ‘em by the pussy,” being in the White House doesn’t make that untrue. It just makes it a painful irony.
I wasn’t going to come forward. Then I was. Then I wasn’t. I’ve been hoping Franken would just step down and I wouldn’t have to say anything. I’ve been hoping he’s a decent enough man not to force his victims to parade in front of the Ethics Committee. I’ve been hoping I’d not ever have the moniker of “Franken accuser.”
But she changed her mind. Good for her. I write this on Thursday morning. Al Franken is going to make a statement today. I presume that he will resign, given that even Chuck Schumer has declared that it’s time for him to go.
I don’t put it at all past the Democrats to be tossing Franken overboard because it’s excellent politics heading into 2018, with the Republicans saddled with Donald Trump and quite possibly Roy Moore — two of the politicians most popular with conservative Christians. The Republican Party and the conservative movement, such as it is, will reap what it has sown. I ask, paraphrasing Tina Dupuy:
Maybe Republicans can replace politicians who harass and abuse women with anyone other than an abuser. There are good men in the world. I know them, I am trying to raise them, and by God’s grace, I try to be one. Do we really believe our talent pool will dry up and our caucus will be nonexistent once we kick out all the creepers? I don’t.
Look at this:
Kellyanne Conway defends Trump’s endorsement of Roy Moore: “The President has tremendous moral standards… He doesn’t want a liberal democrat representing Alabama in the US Senate” https://t.co/Zejo99jpca
— New Day (@NewDay) December 6, 2017
We’ve got to go back to the recognition of God!
— Judge Roy Moore (@MooreSenate) December 6, 2017
“Tremendous moral standards”? Recognize God? These two?! It would be comedy if it weren’t so outrageous.
Joe Carter — a conservative Evangelical — laid down the law last week in a powerful column. He begins by discussing the case of Wesley Goodman, a young conservative Evangelical politician who traded on his squeaky-clean Christian image, but who was a predatory homosexual — and lots of people knew about it, but said little or nothing. Carter concludes:
As we have discovered over the past two years, so long as the flawed candidate can be considered the “lesser of two evils” (i.e., not a Democrat), then some evangelicals believe we can vote for them and keep a clean conscience.
In an article published last October, I asked: “Why are so many evangelicals condoning sexual assault?” I noted that “many evangelicals—especially prominent conservative defenders of family and public morality—side with the powerful oppressors over the vulnerable oppressed. Many have shown they are willing, even eager, to overlook admissions of sexual assault if it will lead to their preferred political outcome.” And that some of America’s most notable pastors, educators, and organizational leaders “attempt to square the circle by claiming that while they are personally opposed to sexual assault and boasting about committing it, they have no intention of holding the perpetrator accountable.”
Numerous people told me at the time that I was being too critical and that the election of 2016 was a special circumstance. Given the choice between two extremely unqualified and unworthy candidates, conservative Christians were voting for Trump merely to protect the Supreme Court. For a time I wondered if that was true. Maybe it was just a political fluke, and evangelicals weren’t discarding our principles.
And then came Roy Moore.
Carter calls on conservative Christians to put aside the “lesser of two evils” strategy and simply refuse to use their vote cooperate with evil:
If every evangelical committed to convictional inaction, politics in American would change within four to five years (about two election cycles). Knowing they were truly at the whim of Christian voters, both parties would be forced to make radical changes. Convictional inaction is a nonpartisan approach that solves our political crisis by literally doing nothing.
The flaw in this approach, of course, is the collective action problem. It would take a majority—or at least a critical mass of convictionally inactive voters—to make it functional. And as we see in Alabama, there simply aren’t enough Christians willing to risk letting their political opponents win any temporary victory.
Still, I hold out hope that this approach will catch on. Politically conservative evangelicals today have been catechized by Fox News and talk radio. But there are a growing number of churches teaching what it means to live as ambassadors of the kingdom of God and not as partisan dupes in our current political cults.
Eventually, we may be able to restore the idea that character and moral integrity are minimum requirements to hold political office. But in the meantime, we’ll increasingly be stuck with the Wesley Goodmans and Roy Moores of the world. We’ve taught candidates they can get away with almost anything because they know we don’t have the courage not to vote for them.
Amen. Preach, brother.
I wrote this a year ago, in The Benedict Option:
Though Donald Trump won the presidency in part with the strong support of Catholics and Evangelicals, the idea that the robustly vulgar, fiercely combative, and morally compromised as Trump will be an avatar for the restoration of Christian morality and social unity is beyond delusional. He is not a solution to America’ s cultural decline, but a symptom of it.
So is Roy Moore. So is the Republican Party. The idea that the party of Bill Clinton, of abortion-at-all-costs, and mandatory transgenderism in public schools has gotten out ahead of the GOP on sexual morality tells you all you need to know.
From the politics chapter of The Benedict Option:
No matter how furious and all – consuming partisan political battles are, Christians have to keep clearly before us the fact that conventional American politics cannot fix what is wrong with our society and culture. They are inadequate because in both their left -wing and right – wing forms, they operate from the position that facilitating and expanding human choice is the proper end of our politics. The left and the right just disagree over where to draw the lines. Neither party’s program is consistent with Christian truth.
By contrast, the politics of the Benedict Option assume that the disorder in American public life derives from disorder within the American soul. Benedict Option politics start with the proposition that the most important political work of our time is the restoration of inner order, harmonizing with the will of God — the same telos as life in the monastic community. Everything else follows naturally from that.
Above all, this means being ordered toward love. We become what we love and make the world according to our loves. We should act from a place not of fear and loathing but of affection and confidence in God and His will.
When we are truly ordered toward God, we won’t have to worry about immediate results — and that’s a good thing. In interviewing surviving dissidents from the Czech Communist era, researcher [Flagg] Taylor discovered something they had in common with Saint Benedict and his monks. They never expected to live to see the end of totalitarianism, and they did not really believe their activities would have any effect in the short term. But this worked to their advantage.
“They surrendered themselves to the idea that these things were worth doing in and of themselves, not because they might have definite, measurable consequences,” Taylor says. “Havel, Benda, and the other dissidents made it clear that once you start down the path of consequentialism, you will always find a reason not to do anything. You have to want to do something because it’ s worth doing, not because you think it will make the Communist Party fall in four years.”
In our immediate circumstance, political consequentialism is cratering Christian moral credibility. One more thing:
Conservatives are now the bastion of situational ethics and moral relativism – exactly what drove me away from liberalism as a young man.
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) December 6, 2017
I’m 50 years old, and grew up in a time when conservative churches held themselves out as opposed to situational ethics and moral relativism, both in secular society and within liberal churches. And now, look.