The tyranny of gentility
One of the greater challenges for the American conservative is to spurn his political taste buds in the hope of future policy gain. It is a rare occurrence for conservatives but can pay big dividends. For those who swallowed the Donald Trump hard pill, policy victories were their reward. Unfortunately, conservatism growing a spine has seemingly accelerated the political left's war on the right.
Coming out of the 1980s and '90s, first with Jerry Fallwell's moral majority and then the compassionate conservatism of George W. Bush, conservatism has been synonymous with gentility. The Republican Party became the party of not just the upper-class voter bloc, but also the high-class voter bloc.
Unfortunately, decades of taking the moral high road meant ceding ground in the culture wars and brought us under a tyranny of our own making. One can use any number of terms to replace gentility and arrive at the same conclusions: the tyranny of compassion, kindness, tenderness, civility, etc. All of these involve emotive responses in which someone's empathy allows him to make decisions that end in his demise.
By all accounts, conservatives lost the culture wars. From the Sexual Revolution and the war on drugs to the collapse of the family unit and our general cultural decay, conservatives ceded the battlefield. Theologians Doug Wilson and James White have spoken at length on the myth of neutrality, which is the idea that America is unmoved by the culture. In other words, gentility demands that we take no position on matters of cultural relevance that may turn people off, and life will go on as usual. As we are seeing, this is a myth.
Thirty years ago, churches warned of the progression of the gay agenda. What began as "love is love" and "staying out of others' bedrooms" turned into parading sexuality nakedly in the streets and the grooming of children in government classrooms. Those who sounded the alarms about the inevitable progression of the LGBT playbook were dismissed with "conspiracy" pejoratives. As it turns out, they were just better at reading the room.
Conservatives are generally good-natured, and the conservative position is the status quo. That means they have a tendency not to want to upset the apple cart. As a result, conservatives are quick to incrementally compromise so that change comes slowly. They then get bogged down in the minutia of policy rather than taking outright positions. How many conservatives view Florida's anti-grooming legislation as a policy win when grooming prohibition ends after the third grade? Unfortunately for conservatives, progressives are very patient and committed to the long game.
Progressives have found a good measure of success in taking advantage of the good nature of conservatives. For instance, on matters of racial reconciliation, groups like Black Lives Matter played on this good nature. They introduced ideas like Critical Race Theory, which convinced conservatives desperate for societal reconciliation that their philosophical solutions like anti-racism are the cure for societal ills. Their activism was adopted by even corporate Christian stalwarts like Chick-fil-A's Dan Cathy. Lacking the firm spiritual and moral foundation of their predecessors, conservatives adopted the self-flagellation of the anti-racists to their own detriment.
At some point in recent history, the political left declared war on the political right. What once was a battle for cultural influence turned into a battle of outright political suppression. It was during the first term of the Obama administration that we began to see a sharp divergence in the political poles, and by Obama's second term, it was apparent he was targeting political opposition with IRS harassment, ATF gun-running, and DOJ spying.
Whether it's naïveté or simply an aversion to conflict, the gentility of conservatives has worked to our detriment. A survey of the modern American political landscape paints a disturbing picture. The double-standard in how the government has come to interact with the political left versus the political right is palpable, such that permanent government bureaucracy has become indistinguishable from the Democrat Party.
When a conservative like Roger Stone was charged with lying to the FBI by the Mueller investigation, he got swatted by fifty agents with a cadre of CNN journalists in tow. When Hillary Clinton attorney Michael Sussmann got charged with lying to the FBI by the Durham investigation, he not only got to hand-pick his jury, but walked scot-free. After a summer of race riots in 2020 that saw billions in damages and dozens of deaths, rioters were given a pass as mostly peaceful protesters and even had a bail fund set up for them by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Meanwhile, several hundred protestors who entered an open Capitol on January 6, 2021, remain in solitary confinement in Washington, D.C. to this day. According to the left, their actions were tantamount to 9/11.
Many Republicans who profess to have been abandoned by the recent crassness of the Republican Party believe what they say when disowning the GOP they've known for the better part of forty years. It is true that the party is rapidly shifting away from a party of gentility. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and reinventing conservatism has never been more desperately needed. At a time when the global landscape is separating from Western classical liberalism to a more authoritarian and centralized global governance, there has never been a more appropriate time to take some hills. What consistently gets in the way of conservatives is their reluctance to spurn the defensive gentility they've grown accustomed to for the offensive that is necessary to defend their way of life.
Brian Parsons is a paleoconservative columnist in Idaho, a proud husband and father, and saved by Grace. You can follow him at WithdrawConsent.org or find his opinion columns at the American Thinker, in the Idaho State Journal, or in other regional publications. Email | Gab
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