Conversion by the Sword

Recently, I thought back to an event here in Harrisonburg with Dinesh D’Sousa.  At one point during the speech, he mentioned how it was a good thing that his ancestors were converted to Christianity (presumably not as a result of their own wish) as it resulted in his faith today.  Regardless of whether or not I remember this moment and its implications correctly, I wanted to discuss the issue of conversion by the sword.

Some people claim that when it comes to Christianity, it is perfectly acceptable to convert people using any and all methods possible, including force.  I completely disagree.  Although this tactic may, on the surface, appear to accomplish your goals, such an act actually damages both the convert and the faith as a whole.  Where, I ask, does it recommend the use of threats and/or force to spread the Christian message?  Can anyone find me a quote from Jesus advocating such a plan?  Shouldn’t one’s religious choice be made through spiritual desire as opposed to duress?  Now certainly, as a Christian myself, I believe that Christianity is the one true faith, but far too many have committed wicked acts to supposedly advance the cause.  History is replete with examples of supposed Christians forcing their beliefs on others through compulsion.  The Crusades, the Inquisitions, colonization, and imperialism all spring to mind.  Even Christian groups violently fought each other: the Thirty Years War, the Huguenots against the Catholics, the Spanish versus the French, and Northern Ireland, just to name a few.  How, as Christians, can we condemn the radical elements that advocate violent conversions and executions in Hinduism, Islam, and other religions when we do not reject the practice in Christianity too?  But wait, Joshua, it’s ok because we know that we are right!  Really?  What would Jesus say?  More importantly what would Jesus do?  Did he tell his followers to convert by the sword, or did he say, “Those who use the sword will be killed by the sword”?  (Matthew 26:52 NLT)  If one of the two most important commandments is supposedly, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:40 NLT) how can you justify persecuting your neighbor and promoting bodily harm should he or she either not be Christian or happen to follow a differing denomination?  Would you do the same to yourself or your own family?  Is killing adults so that you can raise their children as Christians acceptable?  How about kidnapping or starvation?  Is perverting the original message through violence right if it swells the ranks of the faithful?  When it comes to Christianity, do the ends justify the means?  Although one can point to numerous examples of such behavior in the past, I cannot condone violence done in the name of Jesus.

For some reason, it seems perfectly socially acceptable to promote the ideals of democratic governance through force as well.  In World War I, we were supposedly fighting to make the world “safe for democracy”.  In the civil wars in Vietnam and Korea, we were fighting to preserve a democratic government from the forces of Communism.  In a more recent example, the conflict in Iraq, we were fighting to promote freedom and democracy in the Middle Eastern nation.  As George W. Bush stated in 2005, “So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world…America’s belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed.”  Although Americans would likely agree that democratic government (or, at least, what we think of when we say democratic government) is the best form of government, how should we go about promoting this belief?  Early in our nation’s history, we thought that leading by example was the best method.  John Quincy Adams, while Secretary of State, echoed American thought when he stated in 1821, “She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart….Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force.”  Unfortunately, American leaders began to break free of this historical mooring and fought not for their own freedom, but sacrificed her children for the sake of others.  For examples, one need not look further than the conflicts mentioned in the early part of this paragraph.  Promoting democracy aggressively became a sort of religious zealotry.  Did, as Wilson suggested, the world need to be made safe for democracy?  If we had not entered World War I, would our government and way of life been either constantly imperiled or destroyed?  We held the same mistaken beliefs during the struggle against Communism with the Domino Theory.  Despite the logic of some leaders, the rise of Communism in some far eastern country would not necessarily lead to Communism in America.  After all, less than twenty years after losing the Vietnam War (or achieving “Peace with Honor” if you prefer), the entire Soviet Union collapsed.  And yet, this downfall did not come with some great and heroic military victory over the Red Army, but rather through the inherent weaknesses of the Communist system coupled with the desire for freedom from many of the nations and citizens trapped under such a regime.  Rather than learn from history, our leaders, such as President Bush, prefer to repeat past mistakes.  Although I would agree that a democratic government in the Middle East would be of value, some people pushed for war to establish such a government.  They pointed to the murderous atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein as justification, and then created a conflict that took the lives of about a hundred thousand Iraqi men, women, and children.  When we push our government on others (especially the unwilling ones), do we not lower ourselves to the level of tyrants, dictators, and imperialists?  Is democracy so great that an outside power can create it militarily and not create resentment regarding its bloody birth?  I certainly think not, though history shall prove the final judge.

In closing, I would just like to reiterate my earlier points.  Even though there are many differing viewpoints in this world of ours, and the prevailing trend is to remain silent, one should not be hesitant to properly promote and articulate one’s own thoughts.  Nevertheless, when it comes to the issues of both personal and state religion and politics, one should not and must not resort to the temptation to use the sword to convert one’s neighbors, be they either foreign or domestic.   To do so would be a gross perversion and betrayal of the original principles of both Christianity and American democracy.  Can’t these pillars stand upon their own merit or should we drag them through the mire of coercion, tainting them and their adherents further?  Don’t the notions of freedom, liberty, and love teach better?

‘Tis The Season Part 2

Part 2:  My War Against Santa

One might think it strange for me to title this section “My War Against Santa”, after all, who could be against Santa?  Doesn’t he bring joy and hope to millions of children?  Or perhaps you would compare this feud to Dan Quayle’s against the fictitious Murphy Brown?  In any event, my great complaint against Santa is that he is lie.  The developed mythology of Santa (complete with reindeer, elves, and a base on the North Pole) as well as his miraculous omniscience and near omnipresence on Christmas Eve is a complete fabrication.  There is not, nor has never been a person like Santa and yet so many Americans readily spread the falsehood of the Santa story.  I find it deplorable that parents willing indoctrinate their children with this drivel.  Now don’t think I hate everything fiction.  It serves as a wonderful tool to entertain and inspire and allows for massive amounts of creativity.  The problem arises when one attempts to portray fiction as historical or present reality.  Although relatively minor, how many children think Pocahontas married John Smith (as opposed to John Rolfe) due to the efforts of Disney?  Why is it socially acceptable to lie to children at such a massive level as is done with Santa Claus?

Growing up, like most people these days, I was told the Santa lie.  When I discovered the truth, I suppose I was more disappointed that anything else.  Some folks have had a similar response, for example, I draw your attention to the writings of one Christian Scientist.  I would expect that this reaction was not merely an isolated incident and that others have felt similarly betrayed.  However, unlike that author, I have no real interest in “playing the Santa game”.  Most people that I know believe that the myth of Santa Claus is harmless and is all in good fun, but I disagree.  After all, if you can’t trust your parents and your close relatives to tell you the truth, whom can you trust?  Aren’t children generally trusting by nature?  Should we reward such trust with deception, even if this deception has a pleasing face?  I say no.

Another great problem with the Santa issue is assigning credit where it is not due.  For example, why would some people choose to give gifts but claim that they are from Santa instead?  I assure you that when I spend my time and funds to purchase a present, I’ll typically (for there are a few exceptions) let the recipient know from whom the gift came.  Should your children be grateful to a made-up man from the frozen north or their supportive parents?  To me, this rhetorical question is so obvious that any argument to the contrary seems ludicrous.  Another point to consider is the many miracles Santa has supposedly performed.  After all, short of a miracle, how could one man visit so many households in such a small amount of time armed with limitless knowledge and funding?  Normally, of course, he could not.  Therefore, if we expand our thoughts to theology, he must possess god-like powers that either he himself makes manifest or is granted to him by a deity.  Both options present troubling conclusions as they both, by their very nature, lead to worship and adoration of Santa.  Although seemingly innocent, how many children send letters to Santa and visit him at the mall?  Now, how many offer him secret or not so secret bedtime prayers for material salvation?  Has he not become a god with whom they can interact in a very tangible sense? After all, they can see him, touch him, talk to him, and get gifts from him.  Is making Santa a god the kind of morality we wish to infuse in our youth?

To those who consider themselves moral in the audience, let me offer a few thoughts from my own theology.   As Jesus said, “…If your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?  Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake?  Of course not!”  (Matthew 7:9-10) NLT.  As children depend upon their parents for sustenance, don’t they look to them for their morality and truth as well?  Should you want your faith from your children falter once they discover your lies of Santa?  And what about your faith in your god?  If you son or daughter finds you lying about one miraculous being (Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.), how can he or she trust your words about the other?  I don’t care how socially acceptable or not the Santa myth is.  Truth is truth and truth must be dutifully protected.  How can you, like an adulterous woman, spread the lie of Santa and then, “…shrug her shoulders, and then say, ‘What’s wrong with that?’”  (Proverbs 30:20)  NLT.  Do you not see the hypocrisy of these acts?

Although I am quite aware that the deeply entrenched fable of Santa will continue to ensnare the hopes and imaginations of children and those who support this fabrication will continue to do so without regret or remorse, I urge you to think differently.  Certainly I will not run through the streets shouting, “There is no Santa” even though we both know that I am right, for it is not my place to usurp the function of the parent…but, on the other hand, I will not simply go along and agree with the lie simply for the sake of social harmony.  I am well aware that such a stance can strain relations, at it has done in my own extended family, but, at the end of the day, at least I try, in this way, to avoid deceiving the most trusting souls among us.  Doesn’t your own morality demand likewise?

Update: After writing this piece, I wondered if I should have compared the concept of Santa to the nanny state, as both will supposedly give you whatever you desire in exchange for strict obedience.  This morning, I see that Tatsuya Ishida over at Sinfest did just that.  Of course, we discover that his character draws this comparison not so much for ideological reasons, but as a result of disappointing Christmas gifts.  Hilarious.  Though I hope you don’t think I’m just mad about getting a pair of socks too…

‘Tis The Season Part I

Good afternoon, readers.  I’ve been thinking about what to write lately, as the political season is a bit slow this time of year.  Of course, in Virginia there is no off year as we have state elections on odd years and national elections on even years.  Nevertheless, other than the recent auto bailout and the possible corruption of the Illinois governor, there is not too much to discuss.  Therefore, I have decided to provide my commentary on this current holiday season in a multi-part series.  Lucky you.

Yes, it is true that I have developed quite a dislike for the Christmas season.  Now I didn’t always feel this way for when I was growing up I eagerly looked forward to Christmas Day as well as everything it embodied.  But as the years progress and I take time to consider truly the full meaning and ramifications of the holiday, I have come up with a multitude of reasons why I have an aversion to the season.  Some people call me a Grinch out of sheer instinct, after all, who else could be against Christmas, but before you rush to such conclusions, I encourage you to consider my arguments.  Well, enough with the introduction, I present to you the first reason.

Part 1:  Materialism and Compulsory Gift Giving

Unfortunately our culture seems to be dominated with the desire for material accumulation fueled by rampant commercialism.  The Christmas season serves as the focal point of this rabid obsession.  I’m sure you’ve witnessed in Walmarts and Targets children screaming to their parents for the latest toys.  Don’t get me wrong, I love capitalism as much or more than the average person, but I fervently believe that materialism for its own sake is destructive.  What did you get me?  What are you going give me?  Do these questions sound familiar?  I want to know, how much stuff is enough?  Isn’t the spirit of Christmas supposed to be something other than the accumulation of more and more goods?  (More on this topic on a later section.)

Tied into materialism is the concept of compulsory gift giving.  For some reason, we measure feelings of love, affection, and personal worth based upon the quantity and quality of gifts that we give.  After all, as the logic goes, if you really love me, wouldn’t you spend as much as you could afford, or worst, far too often, even more than you can afford, going into debt?  I can personally recall the Christmas sibling rivalry growing up.  If my sister got either more gifts or a higher value of gifts does that mean that I should use the packages under the Christmas tree to base my merit?  Here is where I would ask if we are really that shallow, but…unfortunately we are.  Now if someone gives you a gift, what is the socially acceptable response?  Why, you give them a gift too.  I have found that when one gives a gift, at least a part of you expects some sort of reciprocation.  Remember, you held that person in high enough regard to expend some of your time and wealth selecting a gift and therefore feel owed.  On the other side, should someone surprise you with an unexpected gift, what is the first or second thought going through your mind?  Isn’t it feelings of guilt or frustration?  After all, you didn’t get that person a gift and now aren’t you socially obligated to do so?

What about merit?  In an ideal world, shouldn’t gift giving, like so much else, be tied to merit?  At Christmastime we are urged to give regardless of merit and therefore we give to spoiled and disobedient children or to acquaintances or family members we don’t really know or like.  Don’t misunderstand my thinking here.  I do enjoy giving gifts, but I don’t think we should be compelled to give gifts just because of a certain date.  If I give you a gift it should be because I think you deserve it, not because it is expected or demanded or it is “that time of year”?  Although it may sound counterintuitive, Christmas cheapens gift giving because it splits the correlation between merit and reward.

We must break this spinning cycle of materialism and compulsory gift giving tied to Christmas.  Will this post be overwhelmed with comments of vitriolic disgust?  I know it sounds cruel, but I honestly believe that this holiday only serves to encourage over-spending, guilt, and bad behavior.  I say, lets forget shopping and give Christmas a better and nobler purpose.

Republican Networking

Although most of you have no doubt heard of the Republican Party of Virginia’s new site, it seems that still some of you out there have not.  Simply put, it is a social networking site for Republicans and Republican-leaning folks in the state of Virginia.  I suppose that you can compare it to a kind of political Facebook (though without many of the bells and whistles that have been tacked on over the years).  Ultimately will this site be successful?  Frankly, I have no idea, but, nevertheless, I think it is the right step for the RPV to reach out to the larger community.  After all, if the RPV wishes to grow, it must be much more than a bunch of people gathered at an office in Richmond.  Kudos to Chairman Frederick.

Well, enough of my talk.  Here’s the link.  Go check it out for yourself.

Comic Diversion

Ok, I admit it.  When I was growing up every time I got hold of the paper, I’d go straight for the comics’ section. I can’t say exactly why, though I suspect it was out of a simple desire for entertainment.  One of my early favorites was Jim Davis’ Garfield.  I still own a sizable collection of the strips even though my interest is gone.  Ok, ok, we get it.  The cat wants more food; Jon’s life is terrible, etc.  Couple this narrow and repetitive focus with grotesque amounts of merchandizing and you’ll know why I’ve moved on.  On the other hand, one comic that remains consistently funny to this day is Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes.  Although the comic ceased production over a decade ago, it offered an interesting take on growing up, philosophy, personal relations, and even politics.  Today when I read his work again, his strips are amusing and insightful, but they hold an even greater depth than I realized back in the late 80’s.  I also enjoy poignant political and editorial cartoons and have a stack of books of them spanning more than a decade.

Where might I be going with this article?  Well, if you haven’t noticed, a little while ago I included a link on this blog to a handful of comic strips.  Although a few of you have gone to visit these sites, a vast number of you al have not and so I thought it might be helpful to give you a bit of information as to their contents and underlying themes.

The first of the other three is Steve Notley’s Bob the Angry Flower.  While still at William and Mary, a friend of mine suggested checking out this comic.  Written by a Canadian, the main character is a highly egotistical and power hungry anthropomorphic flower who routinely manipulates both his “friends” and strangers in order to achieve his goals.  Although certainly an oddity (though I suppose no more so than a talking dog or cat), through this work and his accompanying writings, Notley offers his observations and criticisms of American life, culture, politics, religion, and morality. While I often find myself disagreeing with Steve Notley’s suggestions and conclusions, nevertheless he offers a strangely entertaining strip.  As a side note, he too lauded the presidential candidacy of Ron Paul.

The second is Shannon Wheeler’s Too Much Coffee Man.   Initially the series focused on the exploits of the title character, a man wearing an oversized coffee cup on his head who enjoyed the beverage far too much.  For some unexplained reason, the character of Too Much Coffee Man has almost entirely disappeared from the work and, with the exception of a few brief story arcs, there are no reoccurring plots or characters.  Much of the strip serves as a critique of modern existence running the gambit of social ills and personal issues like addictions, materialism, unrequited love, and fear.

The third (and newest) is Tatsuya Ishida’s Sinfest.  This strip offers the most continuity among the three as most of the story focuses on the exploits of Slick, a sex obsessed character that bears a physical resemblance to Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes and Monique, his liberal activist fixation.  Other reoccurring characters include a pig that acts like a stereotypical frat guy, a bookworm, an ardent Christian fundamentalist, God, the Devil, and a cat and a dog.  During the election cycle Ishida often devoted his comics to the real world offering caricatures of Sarah Palin and Barack Obama.  Not only is the comic drawn in a fantastic style, it’s pages laments the prevalence of consumerism, the decay of civil rights, and schizophrenic U.S. foreign and domestic policies.

A word of warning…although I would not call any of the above comics conservative in nature, sometimes instead being downright liberal and yes, they frequently contain “colorful” dialogue, I would still recommend perusing the strips.  Even if you disagree with a number of their premises as I do quite regularly, they still can offer thought provoking commentary and entertainment.  After all, as Bill Watterson proved time and time again, aren’t those the twin purposes of a good comic?

Have any other good comic suggestions?  Feel free to comment here.

Searching for Judas

A little while ago, I got the latest issue of the Life Defender in the mail.  For those unfamiliar with the newsletter, it is a publication of the organization Virginians for Life, a pro-life organization based out of Front Royal.  Although the issue contained a number of interesting pieces, including a small picture of yours truly, the item that caught my eye was a provocatively entitled article “What Should We Do When Pro-life Politicians Sell Out for 30 Pieces of Political Silver?”  For those with even the most basic knowledge of the Bible, you should instantly recognize the reference to Judas.  For the price of 30 pieces of silver, Judas agreed to betray Jesus to the Jewish authorities and thus led to Jesus’ crucifixion.  Now this article claims that a certain Virginia politician has sold out the pro-life movement in exchange for political capital, but who might this politician be?  Why, it is none other than State Senator Ken Cuccinelli.  But how you may ask, according to this article, did the conservative Cuccinelli betray the pro-life cause?  By endorsing Frank Wolf.

Now I think that anyone who has read much of this blog would not be surprised to hear that Rep. Frank Wolf is not one of my favorite Virginia politicians.  He supported the $700 million dollar bailout of Wall Street, he supported bartering our freedoms by voting for the Patriot Act, and he supported limiting our gun rights through the Brady Bill, just to name a few issues of concern.  But when it comes to the issue of life, for the most part, Rep. Wolf is actually pretty good.  He is against partial-birth abortion, votes to remove much of Planned Parenthood’s funding, has an 85% voting record with National Right to Life in 2007, and typically supports the pro-life movement.  So what is his great sin, that which tarnishes him in the eyes of Virginians for Life?  He is pro-life except in the cases of rape and incest.  As I stated in the past, although I don’t agree with these exceptions, I do not condemn those pro-lifers who hold them, but treat them as brothers and sisters in the fight.  Think about it for a moment.  Not only would banning abortion except in cases of rape and incest reduce the number of abortions in this nation to a relatively few, it would also be a solution which I believe a majority of Americans could rally behind.  Do I want abortions in this country?  Absolutely not, but, like those who favor gun control, we must work though incrementalism and not tear ourselves apart through infighting.

Would I support Frank Wolf for Attorney General of Virginia?  No, I wouldn’t.  But, on the same hand, I cannot condemn Ken Cuccinelli for endorsing him based upon the life issue either.  After all, Cuccinelli is on the ballot, Wolf is not.  Plenty of conservatives supported McCain even though I did not.  Should I treat them as unrepentant heretics?  Heaven forbid.  Not only would I alienate myself, I would also condemn many otherwise fine and upstanding people that I respect and desire to work along side, not against.  Fellow conservatives, I firmly believe that Senator Cuccinelli represents a strong hope for us in the coming years and we must continue to advance our beliefs through whatever candidates and organizations share such values.  To Senator Cuccinelli, I say good luck to you, sir.  To Virginians for Life, I say do whatever you can to continue to fight for the unborn, but please do not disparage the strongly pro-life Cuccinelli on this fundamental issue.  There are certainly Judases among our ranks, but Ken Cuccinelli has proven himself to be our friend and ally, not a traitor.

The Lustful Hope of Equality

One fairly easy method to differentiate conservatives from liberals is simply one of terminology choice.  For example while conservatives and libertarians prefer the concept of liberty, liberals and socialists work for equality.  Need proof?  Fair enough.  For example, if one were to look through all the posts on this site through today, you would find that the word liberty shows up 17 times while the word equality appears only twice and both are in reference to the notion of state equality.

At some level, all of us, besides those who express open hostility toward a certain socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, or cultural group desire equality.  The equality of which I speak is equality under the law.  Everyone, be they man or woman, white or black, Christian or Hindu, rich or poor, should be constrained by the same agreed upon rules and regulations.  Despite the claims of Senator Stephens, even our leaders must abide by the same restrictions that bind the common man.  Ideally this same equality would apply to many facets of life: e.g. employment opportunities, college acceptance, our commercial dealings, equal work for equal pay, etc.  Merit would be the sole determining factor between two otherwise fairly equally qualified individuals.

The Equality of Race
Liberals however do not like the idea of merit determining equality.  After all, they say, some groups are disadvantaged.  Now it is certain that certain groups have been discriminated against in the past.  One of the most notable groups is the blacks.  After the abolition of slavery, black people were subjugated to a number of laws that not only dehumanized them, but always prevented them from enjoying the same rights and opportunities that white people had.  Fortunately, due to the efforts of the civil rights crusaders, black people achieved equal rights.  Liberals, however, were not satisfied.  They argued that as a result of past discrimination, in order to have true equality, we must create extra opportunities for minorities and thus affirmative action was born.  Of all attempts to create an equal society, affirmative action is one of the most ill-conceived and unfair programs ever introduced.  They clamor for equality among the races and then they offer a system that sharply divides us based upon race.  If you are an employer, you cannot necessarily hire the best-qualified candidate due to racial quotas.  If you are looking for either education or employment despite your merit you may be denied simply based upon the color of your skin.  And if you are a minority and received your position solely as a result of your merit, how do you quell your coworkers’ spoken or unspoken thoughts of mere racial promotion?  Does this system cause resentment? Does this system promote racial equality or does it hinder it?

The Equality of Income
When it comes to income levels, liberals, unlike conservatives, do not trust the free market to distribute wealth fairly.  Everyone, they argue, should receive a “living wage” from their employment.  Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast definition of a “living wage”.   Is $15,000 a living wage? How about $20,000?  What about $40,000?  $120,000?  In order to achieve greater economic equality, liberals promote policies of welfare and a progressive income tax where your tax rate is based upon your level of income.  Now why would liberals act in such a fashion?  Why should they punish those who prosper?  Often times, super wealthy liberals feel guilty for their success and therefore feel better by forcing themselves and their neighbors to offer some of their wealth to the lower classes.  Certainly those who make their wealth through illegal or unscrupulous means should suffer guilt, but those who achieve honestly should harbor no such remorse.  Other liberals, who do not enjoy material success resent the successes of their fellow man.  After all, shouldn’t his or her labor be of equal value to anyone else’s?  It should make no difference if the marketplace holds some work in higher regard.

Although I believe it is strange to the conservative’s mindset, equality often comes to the forefront of a liberal’s mind.  Most liberals, I would argue, push for this lustful hope of equality merely to further their own notion of fairness in the same way conservatives push for liberty out of fairness.  Therefore their goal is laudable, though misguided.  Unfortunately, their efforts over-inflate the worth of some work, they upset the established social and religious norms, they create new discrimination, and worst of all, they further bloat the power of the government.  Seeking to right some perceived wrong, they cling to the skirt of government, like children looking to have their nanny/parent solve all their problems.  By doing so, they forfeit not only their own liberty and responsibility, but also, the liberties and responsibilities of all their fellow citizens and, slowly but surely, all traces of freedom.  Thus, the more dangerous liberals use race and class under the guise of equality to sharpen the distinctions among us.  Divided, confused, and resentful, they make us their pawns to achieving their goal of absolute and unquestioned power.  But, if we return to my earlier point, in order have true equality in this country, we must arrive at a system whereby we are all treated the same under the law and in the marketplace irrespective of the color of one’s skin or the coins in one’s pocket.  We have seen the so-called equality of welfare, discrimination, and dependency created by the liberal acts of the federal government.  Is this legislated equality the kind of equality you desire?

Reclaiming the Party

Well fellow conservatives, we stand at a historic opportunity to reclaim the GOP.  Although the Republican Party was trounced in the election, the principles of limited government conservatism remain strong.  The Republican Party lost.  Neo-conservative thinking lost.  But, you must remember that we did not lose because our policies and principles were not on the ballot.  True, some conservatives did and might lose (let us hope that Virgil Goode (5th, VA) triumphs), however, those defeats likely stemmed from the weakness from the top of the ticket.  I assure you that more McCain voters were motivated by fear of Obama than enthusiasm for McCain.  That tactic is no way to win an election.  Love trumps fear.  Have we learned nothing from Machiavelli?  If only our candidates had run away as fast as they could from big government advocates like Bush and McCain, they would have done far better.  As I’ve said in the past,

“I believe that there are three key elements that lead to our success.  We win if we:

1.    Stick to our principles,
2.    Properly articulate our message to the fine citizens of the Valley and the rest of our state, and
3.    Campaign hard

When we fail at even one of these principles, we usually lose (and deservedly so).”

Unfortunately, when conservatives place party ahead of principles, conservatives lose.  Then, sooner or later, the Republican Party loses …Virginia loses…and the nation loses.

Along these lines, I present to you a speech given by the author of the book Conservatives Betrayed, Richard Viguerie.  He gave this speech at the Virginia Conservative Leadership Conference on April 26th 2008 in Richmond, Virginia.

Should you want to hear more of Richard Viguerie, you should pick up his writings or visit his website.

Fellow lover of liberty, all is not lost.  We must take back our party, our state, and our nation.  Do you want more faux conservative candidates like McCain or Bush?  Do you want more betrayals and crushing defeats?  If we fail to act today, who knows when we will get another opportunity like the present?  Now is our time, so let us begin.

The Virginia Democratic-Republican?

Well…here we are…the day after the presidential election.  In a recent post, Jack Hunter a.k.a. the Southern Avenger asked what issues motivated you in this election.  For him, the central concerns were controlling illegal immigration and an elimination of the present aggressive and expansive foreign policy.  I think that both were indeed important, but did these issues move you?  Could there have been others?  What about the killing of our children via abortion?  Or how about cutting taxes?  Reducing government spending?  Protecting our rights to keep and bear arms?  The list goes on.  Although there were numerous issues of importance in this election, as with every year, the single most important and all-encompassing issue for me was a drastic reduction of the size and scope of the federal government.  As well you know, neither of the two major party candidates offered any significant plans to noticeably put us on a path to a reduction in government.  Although you would be right to ask why neither the Republicans and the Democrats would nominate a person who shares my goal, instead let us focus a bit on the history of American politics.

Those without grounding in early American politics might find my title “the Virginia Democratic-Republican” a bit strange.  No, I assure you that I don’t have some sort of multiple personally disorder or that I’m pining for the fusion of both Democrats and Republicans, but rather I’m referring to one of the two original political parties in the county.  Early in the nation’s history, there were, like today, two parties.  The first sought greater power for the federal government through means such as the establishment of a national bank, a strong national army and navy, close ties to Great Britain, high tariffs, considerable government spending, and the ability to punish those who spoke against the policies of the government.  They were called the Federalists and were led by men like Alexander Hamilton and John Adams.  Sounds a bit like today doesn’t it…with a federal reserve/bailout, the War on Terror, and the Patriot Act, huh?  Opposing this party were the Democratic-Republicans who favored a weak, limited, constitutional government with greater power reserved for the states.  They argued for low taxes and spending, small or nonexistent standing military, good relations with France, and a balanced budget.  Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe were leaders in this party.  Slowly, but surely, due to a number of factors, the Democratic-Republicans gained power until the Federalist Party disappeared.

Although the Federalist Party died, their ideas did not and they reformed as the Whigs and later as the Republican Party.  The Democratic-Republicans, on the other hand, became the forbearers of the Democratic Party.  The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, and his successors continued in the vein of the Federalist Party of old by attempting to create national banks, an income tax, a large military force, internal improvements through massive government spending, high tariffs, and subduing states rights under the heel of the national government.

For the most part, the Democratic Party stood as the champions of states rights and limited government.  Curiously this trend changed with the presidencies of the first two Democratic Presidents in the 20th Century.  Woodrow Wilson, like the Republican Lincoln before him, created a permanent national bank (the Fed), the income tax, and vigorously supported American military interventionism in the name of idealism.  Later came Franklin Roosevelt who expanded the power of the federal government like never before with the creation of unconstitutional programs such as the New Deal, complete with the financial nightmare of social security and massive federal spending such as the Public Works Administration.  With the Democratic Party corrupted, who would stand firm for the Jeffersonian or Democratic-Republican principles of limited government?  Enter the Conservative coalition.

A conservative faction within both the Democratic and Republican parties rose to stand in opposition to big government advocates like FDR.  The Democratic wing came from mostly southern states and, unfortunately, often tied the movement to policies of racial inequality.  The most prominent leader of this group was Senator Robert Taft.  He, like the Democratic-Republicans, supported a small government rather than the welfare state and a non-interventionist foreign policy.  Conservatives managed to get two presidential nominees, Barry Goldwater followed by Ronald Reagan.  As time passed, the conservative Democrats disappeared which left the Republicans to hold the torch.  As Reagan stated when he became a Republican after being a Democrat, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party.  The party left me.”  Unfortunately, since Reagan, neither party has nominated a true limited government advocate for president.

1994 was another important milestone in conservative politics in the United States.  Not only did the Republican Party simply regain control of the House and Senate, but also it was after a 40-year hiatus.  They achieved power through a coordinated effort promising to streamline government called the Contract with America.  By promoting conservative thinking, the Republican Party was able to win.  Since 1994 conservative politics have been backsliding.  As I’ve stated in earlier posts, the presidency of George W. Bush has been a pretty consistent disappointment for conservatives and a John McCain presidency offers little joy either.  Add this to the fact that none of the Republican or Democratic leaders in the House or Senate have taken a firm, strong stand for conservatism in recent years and you get a recipe for massive government increases.

Where are the politicians who embrace the philosophies of limited government in the tradition of Jefferson?  Although they still exist, both major parties have marginalized them.  Ron Paul has been the most vocal leader in recent years; the conservative Democrat Bob Conley unfortunately failed in his attempt to knock off McCain pal Lindsey Graham in South Carolina; Bob Marshall nearly grabbed the GOP Senate nomination here in Virginia.  What the future has in store for us I cannot say, but we must never give in and never compromise our core values.  I hope that with McCain’s defeat yesterday the Republican Party will be shocked back to its senses.  Otherwise we will need a new party to advance our cause.  No more Bushes and no more McCains.  Where’s Robert Taft when you need him?

The Uninformed Voter

First, let me direct your attention to today’s Sinfest comic.

I suppose the strip would be funnier if there were not actually voters like the dumbfounded one in the comic.  Let me tell you that having been involved in politics for as long as I have, few things scare me more than the uninformed voter.  You might be voting for McCain, you might be voting for Obama, you might be voting for someone else, but I sincerely hope you have some sort of logical reason for doing so.  If you can’t offer any sort of rational thinking, then please, please, do not vote!  If you don’t know the positions of the candidates, then you shouldn’t select from among them.  As I’ve told a number of folks, back in 2000 while volunteering for the Bush campaign, I came across a voter who said he would be supporting W. in the election.  When I pressed him for a reason why he was voting for George Bush, he answered, in all honesty and with a straight face, that it was because he liked Busch beer.  Although I said nothing then, and even though he was voting for my candidate, I would have preferred it if he had not voted.  Just as bad, still other voters have told me that they want to vote for whichever candidate will win.  Do you honestly think that you get a prize if you vote for the winner?  Don’t we still have a secret ballot in this country?  Although I think you should be ashamed if you don’t know at least a little bit about political issues and candidates, there is a far greater shame in voting ignorantly.  At the rate we are going, mark my words…sooner or later an uninformed electorate will ruin our country.

Voting is not a test.

Voting is not a popularity contest.

Voting is not like picking a winner at the horse race.

Voting is a chance for the voter to express his or her opinions and principles through the selection of a like-minded candidate.

Any questions?