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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

My thoughts on the election

They were just published on the Between Two Worlds blog. An excerpt:

The last time the Republicans took a thrashing like this was November 3, 1992, the day of my 32nd birthday. It was the day a young governor from Arkansas, Bill Clinton, defeated another George Bush, and along with his victory he was able to secure sizeable majorities for his party in both houses of Congress. I recall that day vividly. Not only because of the election and the spanking the Republicans received, but also because my parents bought me a birthday cake that the bakery had inscribed on top in frosting, “Happy Birthday, Frank. Love, Bill and Hillary.” I thought the world had ended and that my conservative views would be banished to political Siberia for the rest of my time in this mortal realm. But, alas, the world did not end, for the Gingrich revolution arrived just two years later. It resulted in an historic takeover of Congress by the Republican Party for the first time since the 1950s. In politics, it’s never the end of the world, even if it seems like it....

Like many conservatives of my generation (b. 1960), I came of age when there was a vibrancy and excitement for the works of authors such as Bill Buckley, Russell Kirk, Frederick Hayek, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Henry Hazlitt, Hadley Arkes, and George Gilder. Our political heroes included Washington, Lincoln, Churchill, Reagan, and Thatcher.

Sadly, this present generation is rarely put in contact with these leading lights and their works. Instead, young conservatives as well as young liberals are tutored almost exclusively by blogs and bombast, by “stars” whose command of the intellectual roots of conservatism is an inch deep and a mile wide. We’ve come from “Don’t immanetize the eschaton” to “Sean, you’re a great American.”


Read the whole thing here.

(Cross-posted)

Comments (41)

Have you read the Kmiec piece in Slate? It's frustrating beyond belief.

http://www.slate.com/id/2203800/entry/2203878

Last night was indeed an historic occasion; one that has surpassed (thankfully & quite rightly) even the noble aspirations of Martin Luther King's Great Dream.

It goes without saying that folks, certainly those of my background, can find astounding joy in a black man having prevailed and, indeed, achieving so profoundly meaningful an historic occasion as this -- victoriously seizing the Highest Office of the Land in spite of past strife; that very land which, in its awful previous history had all but oppressed him & his people, assigning those of his race so inferior a status even below that of 'human'.

It is particularly with respect to the latter that an achievement as this speak incredible volumes and renders so resounding a Justice that those who came before him who helped pave his path & their countless sufferings of past injustices make this event hold even greater & more especial significance.

Yet, it is with that same cry for Justice that although I am uniquely proud a black man has ultimately prevailed and made history as spectacularly profound as this; unlike Beckwith, I cannot turn a blind eye to what kind of man has taken the reins of Office and his promise to wreak upon the masses that which would render a similar injustice.

It is with an eye to millions of Innocents that my joy is short-lived.

Good grief, Aristocles, spare us the race-schmaltz. I'm not uniquely proud of anything remotely to do with Obama, and I can't believe you, of all people, should be talking this way. Sheesh.

Thanks for the encouragement, Frank.

one that has surpassed (thankfully & quite rightly) even the noble aspirations of Martin Luther King's Great Dream.

Actually, I see it as the exact opposite of his dream (that one would be judged by the content of his character, not the color of his skin). So many were focused on the color of his skin (electing the first black president) that they ignored the content of his character.

Lydia,

Did you read Frank's article???

Even though I firmly opposed Senator Barack Obama, and had hoped that Senator John McCain would have won, I felt a deep sense of patriotic pride welling up inside of me when I fully realized that America had in fact elected a black man. So, unlike 1992, I felt relieved rather than depressed. For something great had happened and I was blessed to have witnessed it.

I find it quite telling that you deliberately overlooked the very point I was attempting to make:

"..unlike Beckwith, I cannot turn a blind eye to what kind of man has taken the reins of Office and his promise to wreak upon the masses that which would render a similar injustice.

It is with an eye to millions of Innocents that my joy is short-lived."


Yet, given your history of similar acts, I'm not at all suprised.

c matt:

"So many were focused on the color of his skin (electing the first black president) that they ignored the content of his character."

That was my point!

See above.

I well remember Clinton vs GHW Bush also, right down to frantic cries on the Internet (Usenet News at the time: the Web didn't exist) that Marxists were taking over on election eve. Clinton's Fleetwood Mac sixties hippie reject celebration party was a terrific innoculation against my capacity to be dumbfounded by political outcomes. The present circumstances are remarkably similar, though the country as a whole has slouched further toward Gomorrah in the interim. But at least now we have our second black president.

Zippy,

At this point, quite ironically, I'm hoping that what you said about what a McCain loss might do for the conservative base may ring true come the next election -- that is, if Obama doesn't win a 2nd term.

What's interesting about all this is that I predicted the very thing c matt stated above way back in May:

Lydia: I believe you may be neglecting one of the more salient issues unique to the candidacy of Obama: he may become the first black president in the history of the United States.

What black American would not want to help make history by voting Obama into office and making him the first black president, ultimately realizing the dream of every black American and ridding finally the figurative (and still, in some cases, literal) shackles of racism and oppression which the white oppressors had binded him with since the dark days of slavery?

Indeed, even in spite of any particular disagreements with Obama's policy and political viewpoints, many if not most black Americans (even white Americans and, not to mention, most certainly minorities) may understandably come to vote Obama for this very reason.

This is one of the greater forces that undoubteldy would propel Obama's candidacy and one of the more significant reasons why such non-votes would more likely help Obama rather than McCain (in addition to the aforementioned such as a swift end to the Iraq debacle) since a majority of those voters I've mentioned would more likely vote for Obama. Not to mention, there is anecdotal evidence, to say the least, concerning such predicament, which I won't readily discuss here since that would go far beyond the very topic of this thread.

Posted by aristocles | May 30, 2008 12:47 PM

Excellent post, Francis.

Things won't change. People will have to change them.

So, who's gonna do what?

Zippy,

I well remember Clinton vs GHW Bush also, right down to frantic cries on the Internet (Usenet News at the time: the Web didn't exist) that Marxists were taking over on election eve.

Given Obama's abortion extremism and in light of a Democrat controlled House and Senate, how is the idea of the enlargement & expansion of the Holocaust via such acts as in FOCA, Pro-Abort Supreme Court appointees, etc. far-fetched?

You can deny this reality all you want, but the facts would seem to speak for themselves.

I felt a deep sense of patriotic pride welling up inside of me when I fully realized that America had in fact elected a black man. So, unlike 1992, I felt relieved rather than depressed. For something great had happened and I was blessed to have witnessed it.

Whoever wrote that is primping.

Aristocles, the egg is on my face for missing that paragraph in Frank's piece. I moved through it too quickly. (I actually was looking to see if there was anything of the kind, but I moved too quickly through and missed it.) So were you being facetious in what you said about unique pride and what-not? Because if you were serious, then I disagree with _both_ you _and_ Frank on that point about feeling pride in America's having elected a black man, etc., etc.

Lydia,

Allow me to translate the general message of my post (since the purpose of my post seems to had eluded you), which concluded thus:

"..unlike Beckwith, I cannot turn a blind eye to what kind of man has taken the reins of Office and his promise to wreak upon the masses that which would render a similar injustice.

It is with an eye to millions of Innocents that my joy is short-lived."


That is, although we may be proud of a black man having won elections, we should not ignore what kind of man has in fact ascended to the Seat of the Presidency and the types of policies he will implement on the people of our great nation that would render unto it an injustice just as heinous as the one spoken of in our nation's past, which is the suffering and deaths of the Innocents.

KW:

Frank Beckwith wrote that.

Interesting that Lydia sees it fit to play her "Gotcha" games with me instead, which leads me to ask her "Bias much?"

Huh? I suppose we all (ahem) have biases of one sort or another, though we can and must try to be as clear-eyed as possible, but I'm not sure what in the world you mean by "playing gotcha games." I just admitted that I missed the paragraph you pointed out in Frank's post. My point is merely that I refuse to preface anything I say about Barack Obama with some sort of race-talking about how wonderful this is, how proud I am, etc., etc. I don't think it's wonderful at all, for any reason, on any level. Any black man of the past who wasn't a moral monster would be appalled at Obama's election and consider him a disgrace to the country as well as (if possible) to the race, because Obama is a moral monster.

Lydia,

FWIW, I appreciate your not mincing words here and calling a Spade a Spade:

Any black man of the past who wasn't a moral monster would be appalled at Obama's election and consider him a disgrace to the country as well as (if possible) to the race, because Obama is a moral monster.

Beckwith writes: "We not only have to be the loyal opposition when bad policies are proposed, we have to present our views respectfully and intelligently."

The GOP should have been the "loyal opposition" back when it controlled the government. The GOP's uncritical party spirit left many sores undressed until gangrene set in.

"Sadly, this present generation is rarely put in contact with these leading lights and their works. Instead, young conservatives as well as young liberals are tutored almost exclusively by blogs and bombast, by “stars” whose command of the intellectual roots of conservatism is an inch deep and a mile wide."

I was introduced to Voegelin and Burke through Free Republic, back when it was more philosophical and less allied with the GOP.

I think Rush Limbaugh or other radio show host could do a book club like Oprah's, but only recommending dead authors.

On a pessimistic note, the conservative greats don't fit in the internet age. Could Burke ever be the object of adoring praise on YouTube or a target of knowing snarkiness on a Daily Show segment?

The old conservatism had an aristocratic stamp, but the new kind is highly egalitarian and thus presentist. The greats may be useful for future professors and minor pundits of America but they'll never be of much influence in the GOP leadership, let alone the mass market.

the conservative greats don't fit in the internet age

It's a realistic note, Kevin.

I mulled over a reply to aristocles earlier today. I wanted to tell him about a great title by Etienne Gilson, Painting and Reality, wherein Gilson elucidates the limits of art. He says that painting is the art of still life and those who try to paint motion press it beyond its limit.

Blogs are being pressed beyond their limit. And not only does the form have its limit, it is limiting. It's nature is one that gasses up a strange competition for attention at the expense of understanding. It is a sweet slurry that works on recognition, rather than inquiry and reason--reason which moves from what is known to what is unknown.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't some of our current leading "conservative intellectuals" actually endorse Obama? I could understand if they just refused to endorse McCain, but endorse Obama? Right now the only choice I see is between conservative blogs and effete conservatives who share all of the values of the liberal intelligentsia and apparently care more about protecting their reputations than about fearlessly defending the values they supposedly represent, come hell or high water.

If you ask me, more people made up their minds about the GOP ticket because of Tina Fey than anything else. I don't know how you can combat that effectively with more intellectual conservatism, especially when liberals control almost the entire indoctrination (oops, I mean education) system and when a lot of conservative intellectuals are apparently too spineless to stand up to being made fun of.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't some of our current leading "conservative intellectuals" actually endorse Obama?

Indeed. Although don't expect certain 'self-proclaimed' conservatives to give the slightest heed to that.

If you ask me, more people made up their minds about the GOP ticket because of Tina Fey than anything else.

The ever decreasing voter sophistication is appalling, I grant you; that's just par for an ever sophisticated demagoguery that plays the organ tones of a deeply frustrated people crying out for 'change'.

Yet, the actual kind of change that is to come seems to have been lost on people's deliberations then which they will now soon come to regret.

Quite telling that the day right after the elections, the Dow lost almost as much as 500 points.

Get ready for the 'hand-outs' which will soon frustrate the economy even more in spite of all hurrahs to the contrary.

For those who don't want to be spared it (& I, for one, can't get enough of it), here's a bit of "race-schmaltz" (?!) -- MSM-produced, no less -- that I appreciated:
www.thefacultylounge.org/2008/11/i-know-why-maya.html

Quite telling that the day right after the elections, the Dow lost almost as much as 500 points.
Well, there were some really bad economic numbers that day -- unemployment levels especially, IIRC. The feedback I've been seeing is that Wall Street expects Obama to be Clinton Redux -- that he will go slow on tax hikes and such because the economy is in bad shape, and the eventual tax hikes are already priced in because he was expected to win, etc. If he starts showing signs of being something other than Clinton Redux then equities will take a hit, I think.

It is an historical fact that the stock market has done better under Democrat administrations than under Republican administrations. Correlation doesn't imply causation, of course, but you make money from increasing returns not from metaphysical correctness.

To the extent his appointments include a lot of Clinton retreads and such the markets will be happy; to the extent otherwise, not so happy. I'm not saying that is good, I'm just saying that is how it is.

Pardon me, Dr Beckwith, but you must forgive my inability to feel a "..deep sense of patriotic pride welling up inside of me when I fully realized that America had in fact elected a black man...," quite simply because I believe he was supported by many for no other reason. Interesting that I fully realized America elected a black man at the very moment of his election--your essay implies that the realization dawned on you sometime later. In all honesty, the color of our President is moot to me and I suspect that he is far more conscious of his color than I am. After all, he has used his color to advance himself for a good deal of his life.

I am saddened that we have reduced ourselves to electing such a character as President just to swell with pride over his color. A monster is just that, regardless of his clothing. Perhaps the election outcome would have been different had all of us been blind? The situation appears to me that 'although our eyes were open they may just as well have been closed.' Indeed, many of us have become blind of heart and of mind, evidently.

That this election was not won, by any stretch of the imagination, by a landslide is a hopeful sign.

It seems to me that *even if* one regards him as some sort of symbol of his race, his positions and character should matter. One can see this by exaggeration: Blacks obviously shouldn't be proud if a black Adolf Hitler were elected the first black President. If the first black President represents them in some special, symbolic way, it becomes especially important that someone good fills that role. Therefore, you cannot divorce even race symbolism from who the person is, concretely. Therefore you cannot set aside Obama's positions when asking, "Should we swell with pride over having elected him?" And therefore, one's answer to that question, even if one considers his race relevant, will depend on one's moral and political views.

Quite right, Lydia: If Obama were a "moral monster" (as you put it above at 11/5 4:46 PM), then swelling with pride would be badly out-of-place, for just the reason you articulate well here. And if abortion were (or were the moral equivalent of) murder, and esp. if it were obviously that, then the moral monster verdict would seem correct.

But then many more extremely negative verdicts -- not just about Obama -- would seem called for, or so it seems to me. I'm tempted to say that the comparison with Hitler wouldn't in that case be that much of an exaggeration -- but then I can imagine good ways of resisting that conclusion. But it looks like most Americans are moral monsters, and America itself is a morally monstrous, evil nation. (And *perhaps* the nation-level comparison of the current USA with Nazi Germany wouldn't be *that* badly out of place.) Nations that do have strong anit-abortion laws and very low abortion rates would in that case be seen as having a huge moral leg up on the USA. Etc.

Some who (at least profess to) have the relevant beliefs about abortion seem at the same time very pro-USA. I have a hard time understanding their point of view. But I've always suspected that you, Lydia, are quite consistent, and believe that we really are a monstrously evil nation - with some small pockets of virtue here & there.

We most certainly are not a 'nation of monsters' and the insinuation hardly justifies an Obama Presidency. Having only one virtuous citizen, and there are millions living here, disqualifies such a cynical notion.

The Almighty was willing to spare Sodom for "some small pockets of virtue here & there." I hope and pray that He extends that same Mercy to us.

To be pro-life and pro-USA is compatible and, I believe, admirable.

Unfortunately, many of the quasi-intellectuals in this country have adopted the liberal notion that to hold such dual beliefs is somewhat provincial. Perhaps Prager is correct: Too much sin and too much eduction does in fact only add to our level of ignorance.

I respect your opinion, Visitor, but it would help (toward the end of attaining what mutual understandng is possible) if you could explain a bit. A nation that explicitly and as a matter of official policy condones mass murder on such a huge scale would *seem* to be in very hot moral water, to say the least, no? How not?

Nations that do have strong anit-abortion laws and very low abortion rates would in that case be seen as having a huge moral leg up on the USA.

I think you're leaving out a ceteris paribus clause here, Keith. And ceteris so seldom is paribus. Or so I've found. I mean, just to make up something silly, if a nation banned abortion but had everyone who turned thirty automatically executed, there wouldn't be a leg up, morally. Where I think a more real-world comparison comes in is with Muslim countries and _their_ whole set of evil policies, like executing people for converting to Christianity. We're going to end up with a lot of apples and oranges before we're done. That's why I've argued elsewhere that the evils of Islam (which I was then discussing) are incommensurable with the evils of American liberalism.

I don't have too much trouble loving my country though, but this is partly because I'm probably a bit of what is called a "propositionalist." I love America in no small measure for what she stands for and for what she started out to be, and for what I believe she still can be. This helps me to love her in spite of her present grievous flaws and the monstrous evils tolerated and upheld in her legal system, including court precedents.

I think you're leaving out a ceteris paribus clause here

I don't *think* there's any real disagreement between us here: I just meant to be claiming that this would be a huge moral advantage that those nations have over us, leaving open the possibility that it could be overcome. (If this is a non-standard use of "having a leg up on" (which, for all I know, it is), sorry for the misunderstanding.)

Thanks for the enlightening explanation.

The following question is just for information -- I really am curious & wonder whether anyone here knows: Do any predominantly Christian nations have very strong anti-abortion laws?

(I'm wondering, for instance, whether any Latin American nations might meet that description, but I just don't know, myself.)

Are there any predominantly Christian nations in the world? At that point, I guess we get into the question of what counts as a Christian nation. To tell the truth, I've never researched it systematically. I do definitely know that quite a number of Latin American nations have stricter abortion laws than those in the U.S. I know this because I read briefs from the Population Research Institute about the legal battles going on to liberalize the laws. One tiny island nation in the Caribbean where I believe this is now being fought out is St. Lucia.

Malta?

Moral hot water for sure, Keith. I wholeheartedly agree with you, but I did note how close the election was--and I know many, millions for all we know, who refused to vote at all because they viewed both candidates as one and the same. Obama did not win by a landslide so to state that the country is 'overwhelmingly' pro-abortion is inaccurate, actually. This Obama win affirmed that middle-of-the-road candidates don't cut it anymore among conservatives. One must be 100% conservative or not at all or else they're wasting their time even stepping into the arena.

In spite of the liberal left's assaults on and distortion of the Constitution of this country, the basic fundamental principals that it was founded upon are well worth preserving. And for the sake of the millions of Americans who are pro-life and believe in those fundamental principals, I won't concede that the left is the majority, because in truth, they simply aren't.

I meant no offense in my comment, but choose to give far more credit to the good rather than damn all for the cretins.

This is a wonderful paragraph, Lydia:

I don't have too much trouble loving my country though, but this is partly because I'm probably a bit of what is called a "propositionalist." I love America in no small measure for what she stands for and for what she started out to be, and for what I believe she still can be. This helps me to love her in spite of her present grievous flaws and the monstrous evils tolerated and upheld in her legal system, including court precedents.

I do imagine that many Germans -- even fairly well-informed Germans -- could have & would have said the same -- substituting "Germany" for "America" -- during the Nazi period. I don't mean to be suggesting that (assuming Lydia's views about the moral status of abortion) current America is just as bad as Nazi Germany, or that Lydia thinks so. And it's not meant at all as a slap at Lydia -- I really do think it's a wonderful paragraph. Indeed, I suspect that it could have been perfectly legitimate for a German to love her country in just that way. The easily accessible (for those who are roughly my age, and so saw the relevant movie as children) model for this can be the way Captain von Trapp -- at least as he's portrayed by Christopher Plummer in The Sound of Music: I can't really say much about the actual man -- still loved Austria. Of course, it was probably harder to maintain one's love of Germany than of Austria, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that, say, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a great moral hero, in my book) would have sincerely and legitimately claimed to still love Germany for those types of grounds, right up to the heroic end of his life. (But I also wouldn't be that surprised to hear would have sincerely denied that he still loved Germany. My use of D.B. is just to illustrate how serious I am in thinking either attitude could be legitimate: If I can easily imagine even such a true moral hero having either...) But it is worth making the observation if it brings out the point that (even if America isn't held to be in the same moral league as Nazi Germany) the love of country that survives the belief that it is up to its eyeballs in such evil actions has that kind of flavor to it.

Do any predominantly Christian nations have very strong anti-abortion laws?

Nicaragua - if only Daniel Ortaga and the Sandinistas could act as a moderating influence on Obama.

We're going to end up with a lot of apples and oranges before we're done. That's why I've argued elsewhere that the evils of Islam (which I was then discussing) are incommensurable with the evils of American liberalism.

I've watched both Schumer and Obama argue as senators, trying to compare apples to oranges and argue for fairness and equality.

They apparently think that everything ought to be equal to be fair.

Logic with symbols is just not cutting it--if they even get logic in school.

They apparently think that everything ought to be equal to be fair.

That notion of equality but perpetuates the wiles of mediocrity; thus, we have the ever sophisticated society of today.

There is a great scene in the film "Amadeus" where Salieri burns a crucifix in hatred, all because of his envy for a talent he doesn't have. In one way he must be admired for his hatred because he knows he is up against a brute fact. He's an artist who goes mad for it rather than try to change it. He's one step above a solicitous politician.


I don't know anything about the life of Salieri or how much the film has embellished or distorted it. But the need for equality is a deep-rooted desire. Little children don't need to learn that. They can just as well knowingly destroy it as well. When senators appeal to it, they appeal to adolescence.

Writers commit a similar fault when they appeal to the baser and simpler instincts of their audience in order to garner acceptance. In a dark age, successful tricks are often cheap.

I think Keith has a valid point. But the question then is, what ought a patriotic German think of his country during the Third Reich? Ought he think his country is vile in its essence, or ought he think it overrun by vile madmen?

The latter seems the more Christian view, to me. But I think the question is valid.

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