(I don't usually inflict on my W4 readers my love of hymns and gospel music; I usually put that stuff on my personal blog instead. But as you will see later, there is an embedded gospel music video in this post. I ask your indulgence.)
I wish to coin a new term: Cranky Cons. I'm a Cranky Con myself, so I'm including myself in the mildly pejorative connotations.
The Cranky Con tent is large. It includes all those who identify themselves as conservative and who are recognizably conservative in American political terms by some measure made up by...er...me, but who are out of the mainstream of conservatism in some notable way or ways that causes them to grumble at and criticize majority conservatism at least sometimes, perhaps even frequently.
I'll usually let you into the "Con" part if you're strongly socially conservative on core domestic issues like abortion (and I really mean strongly, so no Obama "conservatives"). The "Cranky" part is also easy. Trad-cons, paleocons, and many others will belong. My own Cranky Con credentials are secured by the fact that I grind my teeth when fellow pro-lifers invoke Martin Luther King as a role model. That's a big cause of teeth-grinding, and my dentist should probably have a talk with me about it. A somewhat lesser inducement to teeth-grinding is the comparison of abortion to slavery. I also didn't vote for John McCain through pro-life purism, and that assures me a place in the Cranky Con tent right away. However, I've been known to use the term "rights" or the phrase "right to life" without irony and without breaking out in hives, and that means that other Cranky Cons get cranky with me.
See how this works?
Now, fellow Cranky Cons, here's my point: We are not the future of conservatism in America. The future of conservatism in America lies with the people who use "rights" talk so much and so un-self-consciously that they don't even know that you people who don't like the term exist. The future of conservatism in America lies with the Christian people with three children or more who listen to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and who sacrifice like crazy to home school or to send their kids to Christian schools. The future of conservatism in America lies with the people who (sigh) have no idea that there's any problem with using MLK as a role model or who don't want to think about what they know on that score. And who think they should do it for "strategic reasons" anyway. The future of conservatism in America lies with the members of the Christian Right who voted for John McCain and even worked hard in his campaign, upborne by enthusiasm for Sarah Palin. The future of conservatism in America lies with the people with whom I fought shoulder to shoulder last summer against a homosexual rights ordinance in my home town, who did some strategic things that still have me occasionally banging my head against the wall.
And the future of conservatism in America lies with the people who are frequently derided at work or in school for defending the things they and I, and I hope you, my fellow Cranky Cons, hold dear: Our country, our unborn babies, our freedom to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and common sense on a whole slew of other subjects. And they stand up to it, and they teach their children to stand up to it, because that is who they are.
So let's watch it, fellow Cranky Cons. Because while we may have more nuance, we may be more radical in our conservatism, we may understand all the many ways in which their position is compromised and inconsistent, we need them, and we should love them. They are our fellow soldiers. They are, if we are Christians, our fellow Christians, and in this case, our fellow Christians doing their best where they are to defend a culture under assault.
The future of conservatism in America could just look something like this. God bless it.