It Will Take a Moral Movement, Girls
After the election, conservatives are still full of foreboding -- and also a pessimistic hope. Want to know how to spell "default"? asks Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. It goes like this: "entitlement reform."
Or this from Randall DeSoto: it takes about ten years for Americans to get it together and form a political movement for change. As in1765 to 1776, 1850 to 1860, and so on.
I was taking a similar line back in June, trolling James Piereson's take in The New Criterion on the fourth American revolution. Only I prefer a stronger brew, the kind of thing argued by William G. McLoughlin in Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform. McLoughlin argues that the great reforms in North American history have always been preceded by a religious Awakening. Liberal economist Robert William Fogel was so impressed that he wrote The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism to warn liberals of the coming threat to their power.
But now liberals think the weather is set fair, what with the black and the Hispanic vote, ObamaCare, and beneficial financial and environmental regulations about to transform America. It was all laid out in The Emerging Democratic Majority by John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira, and they were just confirming what the Clintons were doing with the Motor Voter Act in 1993.
Don't look now, liberals, but this is probably the beginning of the end of the Liberal Hour. We will know this for sure if and when a great new moral movement arises in America.
What was going on just before the American Revolution? It was the massive Great Awakening led by the Wesley brothers and Jonathan Edwards. What did it all mean? One revivalist preacher commented that it was like waking people up from "the sleep of ages" to the idea that they could be "responsible beings" called to a "life of purpose" by a God that would never forsake them.
What was going on before the Civil War? It was the Second Great Awakening, led by preachers like Lyman Beecher and Timothy Dwight. And of course there was Joseph Smith, raised in the "burned-over district" of upstate New York. Hey, liberals, is America ready for a Mormon president?
In our time, we conservatives would have to admit that the sixties saw the last great moral movement, with civil rights, the sexual revolution, the Summer of Love, and environmentalism.
But now the idealism of the sixties has corroded into a corrupt ruling class of educated liberals hanging on to the shreds of its moral authority by cynically manipulating blacks and Hispanics with naked appeals to race and government loot -- promises that can't be kept, debt that won't be repaid. The nation staggers from its unaffordable entitlements, its unpayable government pensions, its limping economy, its crypto-inflation, and its regulatory and environmental fascism.
But somehow I don't think that the next moral movement will be about all that. I suspect that it will be more direct and personal, about the way that the sexual revolution and the welfare state have marginalized the lives of ordinary people, and women in particular. Scratch a woman, I believe, and you will find an instinctive faith in marriage, children, and modesty. Our liberal ruling class has taught women to value instead sexual liberation, careers, and childlessness, but these are the values of privileged upper-crust women, not ordinary women. Sooner or later, I predict, women will turn away from their top-down re-educators, just like ordinary people did in the Great Awakenings.
We conservatives are already in touch with the woman-led pro-life subculture that is revolting against a Planned Parenthood world. Suppose that that subculture went viral and started to reach the tattooed single mother working part-time as a hairdresser? Suppose that some moral leader emerged who could speak to these women and awaken them from the sleep of ages to the astonishing idea that instead of being depressive welfare-state dependents, they could be responsible beings called to a life of purpose by a God that would never forsake them?
Of course, if I can think it, someone is already doing it. Here in Seattle we have Mars Hill Church reaching out to the tattooed set. Could it turn into something really big?
Whatever happens, it won't be nice and tidy. Liberals, of course, will try to stigmatize any non-liberal movement as a nest of racists, sexists, extremists, and homophobes; it's what they do. But any movement worthy of the name will power through all that. It will upset the apple cart -- not just of ruling-class liberals, but also of middle-class conservatives.
Moral movements are like that. Just ask the folks in the Middle East.
Christopher Chantrill (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.