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Battling for the Conservative Soul

Today's Fightin Words podcast: PJ Media associate editor David Swindle on how "the Right" will define itself in the future.

by
Walter Hudson

Bio

April 18, 2014 - 7:00 am

randjesusgop

See Part I here

See Part II here

On today’s Fightin Words podcast: What Is “The Right” Anyway?: Part III, concluding a discussion with PJ Media associate editor David Swindle on the distinctions within the right-wing coalition. Can we sort out our differences? If so, how?

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Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the boards of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, Minnesota Majority and the Minority Liberty Alliance. He maintains a blog and daily podcast entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of conservative Minnesotan commentary, and regularly appears on the Twin Cities News Talk Weekend Roundtable on KTCN AM 1130. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.

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Top Rated Comments   
This is really easy; here in two lines:
Death to the Republican Party
Long live the Tea Party
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Right is not a political movement in the same sense that the Left is. The Left has a cohesive ideology and marches lockstep toward their goals -- namely, the destruction of every existing institution.

The elements of the Right are, however, in complete disarray. Each faction is outraged only by the attacks on its own pet institutions. There is no unity because many on the Right sympathize in part with, or at least are indifferent towards, the attacks on those favored institutions of others on the Right, for which they feel no special love.

Thus, libertarians who love the free market get no sympathy from evangelical Christians, nor do libertarians particularly care that Christians have to evacuate their kids from the public schools. Likewise, Republicans whose first loyalty is toward established business interests could not possibly care less about the largely abstract free-market ideals of libertarians, whereas libertarians are outraged at Republicans for their wholesale cronyism.

Law & order conservatives don't mind sending a quarter of all young black men to prison for a good cause that is never realized -- namely, Prohibition 2.0 -- while the constitutionalists mourn the loss of civil liberties and the growth of government that have been fueled by the so-called war on drugs.

Political activism with liberals is like herding self-herding sheep. With conservatives, it's like herding cats.

This will continue until libertarians and Christians and Republicans and others on the right see attacks on each other's favored institutions same as an attack on their own and react just as strongly.

In other words, this isn't likely to stop.
(show less)
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (12)
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The article is a bit disappointing, not to speak of misleading. Above two images are presented, namely Ayn Rand (right?) and a Cross indicating religion, particularly Christianity. I am left with the impression that somehow a debate between the representational value of the two images illustrates THE battle for the Conservative "soul". If so, there is no battle! Ayn Rand is basically atheist and has no spiritual concept of "soul". (In part I am basing myself on Leonard Peilkoff, "The Philosophy of Objectivism" ( = Rand's philosophy organized philosophically). If ""soul has a spiritual meaning, there is no debate about IT, since RNS side denies that "it" IS. So what is the debate? Moreover, the Rand-image does elicit a problematic (for me). There is an irreconcilable difference between my religious view of the "soul" and the hedonistic mianderings of Ayn Rand and her followers. I will withdraw from politics, from Conservativism (the W.F.Buckley-type where I began) if the impoverished philosophy of Ayn Rand is to been seen as a meaningful direction within conservative/Republican politics about which a debate is to be had. There is no debate about a non-entity. So, in summary, perhaps someone can tell me why Rand's image was used. Maybe my reaction is naught but much ado about nothing.

There is another meaning of "soul", neamely the basic motivational essence directing a political party or Conservative activity in politics. With Ayn Rand flashed before my eyes above, I take it that the author of the article was hinting at the fundamental viability of Ayn Rand-ism's "soul" as a motivational base for Conservative inspiritation. I hope not, but the image is there! A political party or political "-ism" that subscribes to the theoretical positions and values of Ayn Rand's objectivism (which I consider to be a pseudo-philosophy anyway) is not a discussion I want. If some Ayn Randians want to vote conservative/Republican, fine, there is a small niche in the backroom closet for them. But the objectivism of Rand is philosophically and morally as objectionalbe to me as Marxism. And there I make do compromises.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Interesting perspective, Prof. I agree with your conclusion -- Rand is spiritually bankrupt and therefore has so little in common with conservatism that a dialogue would be difficult.

But I have found that, just because someone disbelieves in any sort of spirituality, even if ostentatious about it, this does not stop them from evoking some sort of transcendent ethos as part of their argument. Best as I can tell, Rand's objectivism simply tries to replace God with Reason and we're supposed to bow down to it same as we would to the Lord.

There are a couple of things that need to be explained, in my view. Here's one: Reason, in a godless world, would be an invention of man's. Therefore, by this view, man stands in authority over Reason, not the other way around. So bowing to it is silly. Like the conversation Alice had with Humpty Dumpty about words -- it is simply a question of who is to be the master.

Which leads us to the second thing: explain why Reason is God. Reason doesn't tell us Jack Squat about a moral compass. At best, it only tells us how to get to where we want to go -- but tells us nothing about where we ought to want to go.

E.g., is there anything in Ayn Rand that tells us it's okay to love the poor and try to help them? Or to love thine enemies? I don't think so. Read the chapter in Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" where all the passengers on a train suffocate (due to the incompetence of the railroad company) in a tunnel, and her narrative flits from mind to mind inside the train before they're all dead. There is no mistaking the sense of righteous justice Rand feels here --- they all deserved death, you see, because they all bought into the liberal ethos to some degree. Original sin as political philosophy. Atheists tell me the Old Testament is creepy because Saul was ordered to slay all the Amalekites. Well, Ayn Rand sees any creepiness there is in Samuel and raises him a thousand.

My point is that atheists love to poke holes in Christianity, but to do so must often borrow from Christianity's viewpoint. A "soul" may not follow from Rand's philosophy but that won't prevent her or her followers from evoking that concept. And this is because, I think, they understand that any moral ethos, to be authoritative, needs to be higher than humanity.

But the soul is there, whether the Randists acknowledge it or not. The one leg they are standing on is one they won't acknowledge as being true.
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26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
There seems to be little if any conservatism in the political establishment. What passes as "Republican" is little more than pantomime opposition to the one party rule of Progressives- who have co-opted the Democrat party. They (Progressives) have sought to subdivide what real potential grassroots opposition that actually exists and to set the factions against one another.. enlisting us all in these contrived social issue battles to keep us distracted from the grand campaign of subversion underway.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
"America won't change for the better until they change philosophically". -- (guess who).

Here's a clue: the RR's superstition is NOT a answer, it's a disaster.

To listen to the frequent inanity of even the more bright conservatives in utterly disheartening.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here is the only way you can win this silly "battle": Fire all the folks who lost last time. Why do you allow the losers to define anything? That includes pundits and opinion leaders. The definition of insanity is repeating the same failure, over and over and over again but expecting it to eventually work. It won't. Start by firing Rove.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
You and I and the other PJ Media readers can't "fire" Rove or any other "pundits and opinion leaders" - and assigning them the blame for Romney's loss is absurd. Romney demonstrated the Peter Principle at its best: He rose to his level of incompetence. He did great in the primaries but never really got going in the general election campaign.

Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Mike Lee and Jeb Bush all have the same potential problem as Romney: Any one of them can give a good speech and may be able to ignite a conservative base that wants to win back the White House after 8 years of disaster. But when the rubber meets the road in the fight against Hillary, does any of them have the capacity to excite those who aren't staunch GOP supporters?

Hollywood will never have another Cary Grant, and the Republicans will never have another Dutch Reagan. Whether there's anyone in the Presidential hopeful bunch that can garner strong support from those outside the base remains to be seen.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm not referring only to those who lost the last election, but all who have lost in the past. Thinking these same, tired faces will somehow have a better chance next time is nuts. The subject of this article is the "war" between conservatives. To me it is a simple matter of ejecting the losers and allowing fresh ideas to flourish. The entire structure is designed to keep the same fat, greedy horses feeding at the trough. Fire the losers and the rest will sort itself out.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is really easy; here in two lines:
Death to the Republican Party
Long live the Tea Party
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Right is not a political movement in the same sense that the Left is. The Left has a cohesive ideology and marches lockstep toward their goals -- namely, the destruction of every existing institution.

The elements of the Right are, however, in complete disarray. Each faction is outraged only by the attacks on its own pet institutions. There is no unity because many on the Right sympathize in part with, or at least are indifferent towards, the attacks on those favored institutions of others on the Right, for which they feel no special love.

Thus, libertarians who love the free market get no sympathy from evangelical Christians, nor do libertarians particularly care that Christians have to evacuate their kids from the public schools. Likewise, Republicans whose first loyalty is toward established business interests could not possibly care less about the largely abstract free-market ideals of libertarians, whereas libertarians are outraged at Republicans for their wholesale cronyism.

Law & order conservatives don't mind sending a quarter of all young black men to prison for a good cause that is never realized -- namely, Prohibition 2.0 -- while the constitutionalists mourn the loss of civil liberties and the growth of government that have been fueled by the so-called war on drugs.

Political activism with liberals is like herding self-herding sheep. With conservatives, it's like herding cats.

This will continue until libertarians and Christians and Republicans and others on the right see attacks on each other's favored institutions same as an attack on their own and react just as strongly.

In other words, this isn't likely to stop.
(show less)
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think that is an accurate summation, RT. And I must admit as an Evangelical Christian, I'm guilty as charged - though it's not free market where I necessarily disagree. Point well taken.

Since Nov. 2012, I vacillate between making the continued attempt to save the Republic and leaving it in God's hands and tuning out, so to speak. Never did I think ten years ago, I could reach the point of no longer caring and simply treating America as a place to live. But I do grow weary of combating the lies when the game is rigged...
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is the Lord's world and He is in charge. Our job is to do what we can in a godly manner and let Him take care of the master strategy. And, in spite of ourselves, to keep our spirits up and act like we're on the winning side. Which we are.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
tl;dr
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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