Religious Conservatives Don’t Need the Center

Politics and religion haves always had a rocky relationship as the Founders of the United States understood. They sought to alleviate some of the worst conflicts of the two and allow as much freedom as possible for both to thrive. More recent times, foes of religion have used the wisdom of the Constitution to silence religious voices in the public square. Although on the surface what they argue sounds reasonable, the actual practice goes against the spirit and perhaps letter of the law. The freedoms they claim to protect become restricted with vague notions of what is public and private. It is one thing to make a case of disagreement and a different matter to ridicule and accuse without presenting an argument. As no fan of Skousen’s simplistic research, but in agreement with the spirit of Glenn Beck’s ideas , I think both have been treated unfairly to the detriment of honest debate.

The same goes with how those who are most influenced by them, The Tea Party, are continually dismissed. Even when they garner success, such as the latest U.S. election, it is as if they have failed. The truth is those on the left and the right who don’t like them either deliberately misrepresent or seriously misunderstand the movement. An article by Nathan B. Oman that is critical of the religious members ignores the actual history of who comprises the electorate. The vital conservative religious vote is cast as a recently developed nuisance that, “will render conservative religious voices irrelevant to serious political discussion,” compared to more moderate conservatives. It is hard to believe considering voting outcomes over the last 30 years. What will happen is that moderate religious pundits will become irrelevant to other pundits.

His main point is that the more conservative religious voices (that he calls “Cold War” conservatism) will cause “the center” to leave the Republican Party. First, he misses that the Tea Party that Glen Beck represents is not really a religious group, even if found to be made of largely religious people. There is a religious and secular divide that the objectors have no idea exists or how to use against them. More importantly, he doesn’t understand that those who belong to the movement don’t care about the Republican Party and would like to see it go the way of the dinosaur with the Democrats. They hold to principle and not loyalty.

Most importantly, the religious voters are more vital to Republican Party victory than any swing-voters or those in the center. This isn’t to say that those aren’t needed, but they don’t do as much harm as Mr. Oman would like to assume. What causes more damage is when the religious voters reject a candidate. Glen Beck and the Tea Party have revived a group that for the past two or three years has retreated from politics. The last time they came in force was the re-election of George W. Bush, with a predictable outcome; he won a second term.

Looking at recent history, and not insider punditry, it seems that the winners of the election are predicated by the galvanization of religious conservatives and not the turn out of the center. In fact, the more the religious conservatives are excited about a candidate then the more likely the center will follow. This has been going on at least since Jimmy Carter was elected President, if not before. Ironic for Republican pundits critical of the conservative religious movement that the most “center” candidates for U.S. President always end up losing. They were excited for Ronald Reagan (feeling Jimmy Carter let them down), luke warm for the first Bush, critical of Bob Dole, reluctant at first for the second Bush, but excited the second time around, and seriously disliked John McCain. If this continues, it doesn’t bode well for a Mitt Romney run unless the dislike of Pres. Obama overwhelms any displeasure with him. Considering that the conservatives see them as the same politically, it would be at best a tossup match.

Just like previously, the Republican Party cannot ignore the religious conservatives if they want to win. What happened the last Democrat cycles was a show of disappointment in the Republican establishment. The promises made by Pres. Bush’s second term didn’t materialize even in a majority atmosphere, causing the religious conservatives to retreat. Blue Dog Democrats saw an opening and took it, but didn’t learn from the experience of Republicans who lost by leaning left. Glen Beck, and by extension Skousen, saved the Republican Party from obscurity by once again energizing conservatives of all stripes. It is up to the Republicans if they want to embrace this group to remain successful or reject them at their historically arguable peril.

116 thoughts on “Religious Conservatives Don’t Need the Center

  1. I agreed with many things Nate wrote, but I think he misses the importance of the Glenn Beck/tea party movement. While I don’t agree with many of Beck’s over-the-top statements, he has been an important part of the movement rejecting the progressive agenda and trying to get the U.S. back to constitutional government. Whether you agree with that movement or not, you must recognize that Beck has helped change the debate in monumental ways.

    I tend to agree with you that, as far as fiscal issues go, we don’t need the center, but we do need to do a better job picking conservative candidates who can win. Goldwater was a principled conservative and got destroyed in 1964. More recently, our choices of Sharron Angle and Ken Buck (rather than more electable, nearly as conservative options like Sue Lowden in NV and Jane Norton in Colorado) cost conservatives two Senate seats.

    Conservatives cannot ignore religious conservatives, but the message today must concentrate on fiscal issues. We are seeing the breakdown of the tax-and-spend welfare state right before our eyes, and it is as many of us have predicted for many years. The solution for liberals will always be more government — conservatives need to show that the real solution is less government, respect for the business sector and more self-reliance on a personal basis. Conservatives should not make the mistake of mis-reading the electorate and supporting a religious conservative who is not a fiscal conservative (such as a Mike Huckabee). That would be the most disastrous step of all right now.

  2. Jettboy,

    A very intriguing take on the Tea Party. Prior to reading your post, I think I would have (and probably still do) hew closer to Nate Oman’s point of view.

    But you have given me food for thought here, because you are right that the Republicans win every single time if they have appealed to their conservative base properly. At least, so far, this seems to be the case.

    I am sympathetic to Nate’s position. If the Republican party became so distasteful to the center that they started always voting democrat, that probably would be a problem. But, at least at the moment, it isn’t going that far. And how far would things have to go for that to be the case? Probably quite far.

    That’s the thing with the American system. It’s winner take all. So there can really only be, at most, two parties. Any time you have third party, it just kills the party it was closer to. Thus the party further from it is the winner. (Ross Perot, Anderson, etc.) Therefore, the laws of political physics force it back to two parties.

    For the center to stick with the Republican party, the only thing that needs to be true is that the far right isn’t more distasteful then the democrats. So long as this rule isn’t violate, there really isn’t much danger of losing the center republicans.

    “More recent times, foes of religion have used the wisdom of the Constitution to silence religious voices in the public square. Although on the surface what they argue sounds reasonable, the actual practice goes against the spirit and perhaps letter of the law.”

    Interesting quote.

  3. “Goldwater was a principled conservative and got destroyed in 1964.”

    From what I’ve studied, running Goldwater might have been the single best thing the Republicans ever did. It literally chagned polics.

    I was listening to a historical podcast (I want to say it was Jennifer Burns, but I can’t remember) and the speaker mentioned that Goldwater was demolished in the elections but his victory was nearly totally complete because he fundamentally changed both parties afterwards.

  4. I have to admit that I had a hard time getting Jettboy’s point. But in reply Geoff said, “I tend to agree with you that, as far as fiscal issues go, we don’t need the center, but we do need to do a better job picking conservative candidates who can win.”

    I’m trying to make sense of this. On the one hand, I’d reject this idea because parties always need the center to vote for them in order to win. But perhaps I’m not reading that quite right. Another way of reading Geoff’s comment is that tea party-ish conservatives don’t need to take up centrist causes or ideals, or bend or adapt to centrists ideas, in order to win because it should be easy enough to get centrists to accept and adopt tea party-ish fiscal policies. I’d agree with that.

  5. If what I wrote is confusing, its only because I have taken up an argument from Nate who I think is confused as to who Glen Beck and co. actually represents. As such, I have to take his preconceptions and go from there. That means sometimes stumbling with who is really at issue.

    I admit that I am arguing less about religious conservatives and more the tea party-ish Constitutionalists that are the true source of his worry. What has really happened is that the secular and religious, for the most part, conservatives have formed an alliance that at least this voting season was a powerful block. That Nate misinterprets it in religious terms because “Glen Beck and Skousen are not closet Mormons” only heightens the sense he doesn’t actually know what is going on. That is fine. It just means those who think one-dimensional about the above people (only religious, only fiscal, only stuck in the Cold War era) will find themselves blindsided battling shadows.

    By the way, I do agree that there were some misteps and bad calls for the Tea Party candidates. Once again, however, picking the few bad out of the many and calling it a failure is hard to understand. Even if only about 20 of the newly elected were Tea-Party backed, there was still a change in the national conversation and political makeup of Washington.

  6. I tend to think that Nate’s concern with regard to religious influences in the Tea Party movement is largely unfounded. As has been said, the Tea Party is not a religious movement. It is a back to basics limited government movement.

    I don’t know of a single elected official who infuses his rhetoric with Manichean religious overtones a fraction as much as Glenn Beck tends to. It doesn’t matter, Glenn Beck is not the Tea Party, and people who approach the world the way he does compromise at best perhaps one third of its supporters.

    The “Tea Party” as such is a potent force in politics not because of the Beck and Skousen-ites, who have generally always felt that way. The Tea Party is a potent force because the fiscal problems this country faces have become serious enough to attract moderates and independents.

    Skousen quoting Glenn Beck fans do not exactly typify the conservative Republicans recently elected to office. More like conservative independent businessmen who do not exactly present themselves as wide eyed lunatics. Radical conservative is an oxymoron. Any reasonable conservative program has to account where we are now, and make reasonable steps from there.

    It is only because we are running trillion and a half dollar deficits that anything like harsh measures and severe cuts are necessary. Any reasonable elected politician is going to try to make those as pain free as possible, to try to avoid upheaval and social dislocation. That is conservatism for you.

  7. Yep. It’s all about getting spending under control. That’s what Republicans of every stripe are most concerned about. And that’s why Republicans of every stripe are more likely to ban together on this issue before they reach across the aisle over other issues.

    Which brings me to Mitt Romney: Considering the super-colossal issue at hand, isn’t it imaginable that he might do well in the next run?

  8. No Jack its not, as I stated above. He has Massachusetts care that is too much related to the number one hitlist of the tea-party conservatives. The vitriol (literally) against Mitt by this bunch makes it highly unlikely he will do any better than last time. His chance is most likely gone.

  9. Mitt Romney has no chance of winning as president, period, due to his Mormon status. The only sort of Mormon that could win as President would be a liberal Reid-type one. Nate Oman wrote another post recently that I agree with. He suggested what I’ve been saying for quite a while — Mormons are hated by conservatives for their religion and by liberals for their politics. Neither side will have them and they just aren’t large enough to truly rebel against their Evangelical neighbors over this.

    Interestingly, that proves “religion” is not the primary source of bigotry, as many assume. It’s really ideology that leads to hate.

  10. Bruce,

    I’m not totally convinced that one’s “Mormonism” will repel the right to that degree. Mitt ran a very close second to McCain — going by raw votes. McCain had the good fortune of winning key “winner take all” states. It was a logistical travesty for Romney more than anything else. And who knows but what we’ve made a few more friends on the right since Prop. 8. No doubt, if Romney and McCain were running against each other right now the outcome would be different — very hypothetical, I know.

    Jettboy,

    I agree with you in part. But one thing the Tea Partiers have got to get through their heads is that SOME kind of health reform must happen. And Romney’s solution of making health care mandatory (like car insurance) whilst allowing the marketplace to determine its own value might be the best compromise at this point.

  11. Jack, setting aside the constitutional issues, it probably isn’t such a bad idea to make catastrophic insurance mandatory, and to provide government reinsurance for the hard cases. But the liberal approach to health care reform is to make everything-but-the-kitchen-sink insurance mandatory, which is really bad idea for roughly the same reason as Medicare is going bankrupt. It removes all of the cost discipline out of the system, because nobody economizes on anything.

    No state that I am aware of requires people to purchase comprehensive auto insurance, let alone first dollar coverage. They require drivers to purchase liability insurance, which is entirely reasonable.

    Medical catastrophes are true insurable costs – statistically uncommon, and hard to anticipate. But everyday medical expenses aren’t properly the subject of “insurance” at all, because they are regular and anticipated. Running regular medical expenses through a government or insurance bureaucracy is a counter productive artifact of WWII era tax policy.

    One might as well mandate that people purchase “food insurance” or “housing insurance”. It would make just as much sense, and would have precisely the same problems. Why shouldn’t I get steak every week if my insurance plan is footing the bill? Oh no, this is socially subsidized food insurance, and for your own good, and to keep the cost down, we are only going to cover steak once a month. Either way the cost of steak would tend to rise over time because consumers wouldn’t be the ones who cared about the price of beef, it would be their food insurance companies. Economics for imbeciles, more or less.

    I demand better food insurance! No food insurance company should be allowed to exclude any kind of food. Excluding coverage for shrimp and lobster is uncivilized, counter cultural, and discriminatory – a violation of the rights of all human beings, etc.

  12. I completely reject the idea that people should be forced to buy a product — any product — because somebody else (ie, progressive do-gooders and know-it-alls) think they get to control other peoples’ actions. It is simply unconstitutional and a slippery slope toward authoritarianism. If people can be forced to buy catastrophic health insurance, why can’t we force them to buy wheat bread instead of white and then GM cars (to help the government)? This is why Mitt has no chance — his support of Romneycare is beyond the pale.

    The first point regarding health care is to realize that govt involvement in this issue is literally bankrupting the federal and state governments right in front of our eyes. We simply need to have a paradigm shift where we no longer expect the government (meaning other people) to “give us things”, ie handouts. We need to re-emphasize self-reliance and personal responsibility. We need to re-emphasize families and friends and fraternal mutual benefit socities helping each other first. The Church welfare system is a good model.

    Realistically, we should handle Medicaid through block grants from the federal government to the states. With Medicare, we need to move to a voucher system. Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced with a tax credit system where people can use the credit to buy health insurance across state lines. Relying on the private marketplace to provide insurance will lower costs and increase availability of catastrophic care. But some people will no longer be covered by the government. This is where charity comes in. As part of this project, we simply need to encourage more non-profit and charitable health care projects where people *voluntarily* offer their time, money and talents. The current system is morally and fiscally bankrupt.

  13. If you don’t foresee Mitt Romney doing well in 2012, what do you think about a Jon Huntsman run? Having lived outside of Utah for almost 10 years now, I don’t know much about him and didn’t see what he was like as governor, but I hear he is in a decent position to run for president. Do you think conservatives would have as difficult a time voting for him as they would for Mitt?

  14. David, I don’t think Huntsman has a chance either, although the U.S. media will try to promote him as a “moderate Republican.” This is of course what they did with McCain until turning him into a right-wing extremist in 2008 as he ran against Obama.

    Republicans need a game-changer in 2012, somebody completely different. I personally favor a more libertarian candidate like Gary Johnson, but a Mitch Daniels or Chris Christie would be great also.

  15. A quick response and then I have to run to work. With all due respect, I think that this post both misreads my RTD column and misreads political history. On my column, it makes the mistake of supposing that it was meant to be an attack on the Tea Party per se. This is not so. Rather, it was an attack on Beck’s revival of Cleon Skousen and the John Birth Society-style in conservative politics. This overlaps a bit with the Tea Party but it is not the same thing. My point was that many religious conservatives find this crap appealing but that it is toxic in the long run, and will leave them with an intellectually hollow movement that is unable to appeal to mainstream voters.

    On political history, it is important to understand why Reagan won and the conservative movement triumphed in the 1980s. There were basically three factors: 1. the failure of establishment liberalism in the train-wreck of the Carter Administration; 2. Reagan’s ability to mobilize the conservative base; and, 3. Reagan’s ability to woo independent and Democratic voters. Remember that in 1980 Reagan won in part because he touted his union membership and nabbed the so-called “Reagan Democrats” from Carter. He was able to 3 in part because he — and other opinion leaders like William F. Buckley — distanced conservatism from precisely the kind of John Birch Society crap that Beck seeks to revive. Hence, Reagan’s Cold War conservatism was different than Skousen and Beck’s.

    More generally, I think that the analysis here mistakes the role that religious conservatives have played in winning elections. It is true that Republic candidates need these voters to win. Hence, they cannot be dismissed or written off. On the other hand, they cannot win with just these voters. They need to be able to grab centrist voters to get a majority. This is simple math. The trick is to come up with a rhetorical and policy cocktail that does this. The danger in the wake of electoral victory is for committed ideologues to read the election as an endorsement of their position. This is what the left of the Democratic party did in 2008 and it is why they got stomped in 2010 (that and the unemployment rate). Nothing could be more disastrous for the GOP in 2012 than for them to read the 2010 election as meaning that centrist voters don’t matter.

    On the Tea Party, I have three basic beefs — beefs that are essentially independent of my RTD column arguments. First, they have chosen a number of candidates and standard bearers who were idiots. This probably allowed the Dems to retain control of the Senate. Second, they are concerned for fiscal issues, but from what I have seen this is almost entirely conceptualized in terms of pork barrel spending and corruption in Washington. This is nonsense. Non-defense discretionary spending amounts to about 12 percent of the federal budget. The simple truth is that pork simply isn’t a big enough part of the budget to either drive our fiscal woes or solve them. Rather, budget deficits are driven by defense spending and entitlement spending. Rather than grandstanding about earmarks, a real fiscal conservatism would talk about limiting Medicare and Social Security spending. Finally, to the extent that the Tea Partiers are on the conservative immigrant bashing band wagon, I think that they are wrong morally, fiscally, and politically.

  16. Nate, thanks for commenting. I especially agree with your last paragraph. Specifically, conservatives lost NV and Colorado because we chose two bad candidates in the primaries instead of getting “the most electable conservative candidate.” We would probably disagree on Delaware — I don’t think conservatives lost much by bringing down Mike Castle, who may or may not have won the general election. I would slightly disagree with your second point — if you attended a tea party rally in Colorado you would see voters focused entirely on spending issues and discussing a different attitude toward government. But your point is sound that earmarks are a miniscule part of the problem but take up the majority of the rhetoric. There are very few politicians willing to talk common sense about Medicare and Social Security. Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Mike Lee — who else? The Republican leadership is awol on this issue. Regarding immigration, totally agree, as you know.

  17. Geoff: Actually, the Republicans under Bush made a major stab at Social Security reform but were defeated by the Democrats. As for the Tea Partiers, I don’t see a lot of talk about much of anything other than pork barrel spending and earmarks. Earmarks, by the way, are not simply a minor part of the problem. They are not a problem at all. They dictate which branch of government controls spending not how much spending occurs. $1 million spent as the President directs has precisely the same impact on the public fisc as $1 million spent as Congress directs. My theory of the salience of earmarks is that they make for easy opposition research. You just troll through the budget reports and pull out spending projects. Trolling through Executive branch spending decisions is far more difficult. Explaining to people that the primary drivers of the deficit are entitlement spending and that the primary driver of entitlement spending is demographics rather than political choice is even more difficult.

  18. Nate: “Rather, budget deficits are driven by defense spending and entitlement spending. Rather than grandstanding about earmarks, a real fiscal conservatism would talk about limiting Medicare and Social Security spending.”

    Can you help me understand why a “real fiscal conservative” would target only entitlement programs and not defense spending? How is defense spending not a legitimate fiscal target?

    “Earmarks, by the way, are not simply a minor part of the problem. They are not a problem at all.”

    I disagree, in a way. I think earmarks reveal dishonesty, ignorance, and/or (unmerited) arrogance. If a politician earmarks publicly, I worry about what he/she is willing to do in secret. Earmarking also suggests that there are problems with their view about gov’t spending in general.

  19. I think you are still missing the mark of what the Tea-party is about Nate. Those earmarks might mean “bubkiss” to you and the politicians, but they mean at least a start to fiscal conservatives. It is what they represent that is the problem; out of control discretionary spending. And Geoff is right. It is the Tea-party backed Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, etc. that are talking about the big issues and not the moderates. For the rest of the Republicans with the help of the media its only the smaller cuts that are mentioned. If there were far more Tea-party members in the House and Senate, I assure you it would be more than a few beans that would be discussed.

    Have you ever talked with more than one Tea-party enthusiast? Seriously, have you? Because I can assure you that your understanding of what they represent and want is not even close to correct. The ultimate goal is to put decisions back into the hands of State and Local governments where the public has more say.

  20. Brian J.: I think that it would make sense for a fiscal conservative to target defense spending. Defense spending, however, does not pose the same long-term fiscal threat as entitlement spending. The reason for this is that the level of defense spending is not tied to demographic shifts. If we do nothing, entitlement spending will grow dramatically in the next twenty years. There is no similar demographic pressure on defense spending. Hence, while defense certainly contributes to the deficit and ought to be cut, it is not a ticking demographic bomb that will wreck the public fisc in the future.

    jettboy (if that is even your real name ;->): I have in fact met and spoken with tea party activists. I don’t think that they are violent crazies, etc. The folks I have talked with have mainly suggested — as you do — that run away discretionary spending is the primary threat to the public fisc. While I agree with many of their criticisms of the Obama stimulus package, I don’t think that in the long run discretionary spending is a fiscal problem. We could eliminate virtually all non-defense discretionary spending and we’d still have fiscal problems.

    I suppose that there is some sort of cultural argument about ear marks, but I don’t find it compelling. If we really think that discretionary spending is the problem, then we ought to cut the budget rather than bickering over whether Congress or the executive should direct spending. You could have a small balanced budget riddled with earmarks or a large, unbalanced budget riddled with earmarks. The real question is how big the budget is, and if we are serious about the size of the budget non-defense discretionary spending is a sideshow. Pork barrel spending (which is a subset of non-defense discretionary spending) is a sideshow of a sideshow. Earmarks (which are about whether the executive or congress directs the pork) are a sideshow of a sideshow of a sideshow. Perseverating about them suggests to me that the perseverating person is either (1) ignorant; (2) innumerate; or, (3) ultimately unserious about fiscal reform.

    FWIW, here is a column where I actually talk about fiscal politics.

  21. Long-term spending obligations are a long-term concern. However, in under two and a half years we have increased our public debt about 40% in discretionary efforts to deal with economic conditions. That deserves a bit of pushing back if we don’t want such spending to continue in that direction.

  22. I enjoyed Nate’s article. Jettboy’s post however lost me when he said “More recent times, foes of religion have used the wisdom of the Constitution to silence religious voices in the public square.”

    Really? Silenced?

  23. jjohnsen,

    Please don’t take this as anything but a query for more information.

    Are you really ‘lost’ by what jettboy said or is that just a euphemism for ‘I disagree with you.’?

    Perhaps putting this another way: If Jettboy had instead said one of these, would you still be lost?:

    “More recent times, some secularists have claimed that people should leave their religion outside the voting booth and that it shouldn’t be brought up in a public form either.”

    “More recent times, some have argued that we would be better off with making religion a private matter and only have secular discussions publicly.”

    “More recent times, some have argued that all or most public displays of religion, should be removed from the public sphere even when there was past precedent for it.”

    Hopefully you get the picture of what I am trying to say. Are you maybe over literalizing Jettboy’s statement? Or are you disagreeing such things have ever been said or believed?

  24. Nate,

    I enjoyed both of your opinion pieces very much. As the resident liberal here (that’s a joke, laugh) I am basically in your camp. I also have a strong concern with Skowsen’s politics and I have had the fear that it will drive the center off.

    But Jettboy, don’t think that doesn’t mean I don’t see that you have a point. You got me thinking about this subject in a way I hadn’t before. That’s the highest compliment I can pay you.

  25. There are at least two points I tried to make with this article:

    First, that Nate’s fears that the center will be driven away by Skousen’s and Beck’s “religious Conservatism” doesn’t take into account that the center often drives the religious conservatives away. History has proven, at least to me, that when the “center conservatives” do that, then Republicans lose elections. It might be better to learn to live, if not work, together rather than warn that one or the other is bad news.

    My second point is that there *is* a war going on within the Republican Party. Of the two, the ones more likely to walk away are the religious conservatives who really don’t have a vested interest in the Party Politic. If the Republicans want to call them “dangerous” and “unhealthy” to the party, there is truth to that, but not in the way Nate explains. They will bolt. They will form a third party. Their reasoning is not to get people elected, but to elect the people they think are right. My experience with the “center conservatives” is that they are much more Party affiliated and will have a hard time switching parties or forming a third party because they are more “practical” in how they want things accomplished.

    In other words, my title is equal parts how the religious conservatives feel and what might happen if Nate’s warnings come to a logical conclusion. They won’t change their ways. They will find another way.

  26. Great points, Jettboy. Like Bruce, I tend to agree more with Nate’s point of view, but I appreciate your viewpoint and respect your opinion on the subject. Thank you for presenting a thought-provoking argument.

  27. Bruce, I’d love to hear the examples of where religious voices have been silenced in the public arena. His hyperbole and your comment are at different ends of the spectrum. There’s a pretty major difference between having someone say we’d be better off without religious conversation and being forced into silence.

    I get a little tired of my fellow Christians acting like the picked-on child in the schoolyard.

  28. jjohnsen, I believe there is merit to what has been said about religion being silenced in the public arena. Jettboy is not the first to make a remark like this. President David O. McKay shared the following after the Supreme Court’s decision forbidding Bible-reading in the schools:

    Recent rulings of the Supreme Court would have all reference to a Creator eliminated from our public schools and public offices.

    It is a sad day when the Supreme Court of the United States would discourage all reference in our schools to the influence of the phrase ’divine providence’ as used by our founders of the Declaration of Independence.

    Evidently the Supreme Court misinterprets the true meaning of the First Amendment, and are now leading a Christian nation down the road to atheism.

    Church News, 22 June 1963, p. 2.

  29. A school isn’t the public square, there are plenty of ways that a Christian can express himself politically without wasting my fifth graders time.

  30. “A school isn’t the public square”

    Its called “public school” for a reason. That said, attitudes such as what Bruce Neilson had listed are driving the discussion of what is appropriate for religious people to do or say politically. It has the effect of silencing the religious voices into shame. I would like to know what you would consider ways that a Christian can express themselves politically? All I have heard is shut up and keep it to yourselves or stop legislating your morality.

  31. Jjohnsen, i am not aware of your background or from what experience you have. It seems to me that this silencing of religion has been happening for years. One recent example took place in San Diego with regards to a statue on Mt. Soledad’as part of a war memorial. To see the story read here: http://theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2011/01/appellate-court-rules-that-san-diego-memorial-cross-unconstitutional-14991

    In order to be silenced, once must have a voice to begin with. The history of the Mormon church, especially the period of time relating the missouri hardships, shows that there are time where the church never had a voice in government to begin with. Today, many use the phrase “separation of church and state” synonymously as, “church should have voice in state.” many would argue this to be the intent of the statement.

    It would seem to me that there is no shortage of examples of religion being silenced all over the country. The Muslim center in New York City is another where people didn’t want a building to be in place let alone a voice or expression of their faith.

  32. I love what Elder Cook wrote in the November 2010 Ensign:

    In our increasingly unrighteous world, it is essential that values based on religious belief be part of the public discourse. Moral positions informed by a religious conscience must be accorded equal access to the public square. Under the constitutions of most countries, a religious conscience may not be given preference, but neither should it be disregarded.

  33. Sorry, I mistyped. I meant many use the phrase “separation of birch as state” to mean that “church should NOT have voice in public operation and governance.” sorry for that.

  34. Jettboy: I have absolutely no objection to Christians or other religious citizens expressing religious ideas on the public square. I just wish that the ideas they expressed weren’t quite so stupid sometimes. Hence, my criticisms of Beck.

  35. “Its called “public school” for a reason. ”

    They both have the word public in them so they’re the same. Shall I make a list of what isn’t open for discussion in a public school? Why can’t I wear my “F the Police” shirt to Jr. High? It’s public! Public school has never meant anything goes. Thanks, but I’m not interested in my daughter’s science class being used as a forum for someone to explain how the Bible proves the Earth is 5,000 years old, and I’m not interested in my daughter’s English class being used as a forum for why the Bible proves she belongs to a cult.

    “All I have heard is shut up and keep it to yourselves or stop legislating your morality.”

    Really? Thats ALL you’ve heard? Not a single person allowed to discuss Christianity and Christian ideas in a political way? What would you guess is the percentage of Congressmen that are Christian? And are you claiming not a single one has been allowed to bring Christianity into a political discussion on the floor? You’ve never heard a political discussion on Fox News, CNN or Glenn Beck’s radio program where a pundit has brought up God or Christian morals?

    “It would seem to me that there is no shortage of examples of religion being silenced all over the country. The Muslim center in New York City is another where people didn’t want a building to be in place let alone a voice or expression of their faith.”
    I’d love to know how many Christians that are worried about not being able to express themselves politically share your concern about the Muslim center in NYC.

    Anyway, I see no reason to continue to quibble about a single point in the post, especially knowing I’m not going to change anyone else’s mind. I rather focus on Nate’s excellent article.

  36. Would God that all American voters were “religious” voters.

    But, though I’m grateful for the religious voters we’ve got, its incumbent on them to be smarter and more sophisticated about their politics than some of them are. Voting for Huckabee simply because he acts like a pastor–or even voting for Romney because he’s a good Mormon man–is identify politics, not smart thinking about using politics to righteous ends. Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

    One other thing, about Nate Oman’s essay. Real, genuine, democratic politics are messy and require rubbing shoulders with people with strange ideas who are boorish and stupid by the conventions of the elite. Some of them probably are boorish and stupid. But that’s democracy at work. If you can’t live with it and even embrace it to some degree, that’s a flaw in your character.

    The Tea Partiers really are like the Founders. Many of the Founders had ideas about Britain and militias and etc. and etc. that were frankly just a little bit nutty and a little bit paranoid. That’s our heritage, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  37. In recent general conferences the Apostles appear to be concerned about religious voices being excluded from the public square. Elder Oaks and Elder Wossname (Christensen?) spring to mind.

  38. They both have the word public in them so they’re the same. Shall I make a list of what isn’t open for discussion in a public school? Why can’t I wear my “F the Police” shirt to Jr. High? It’s public! Public school has never meant anything goes. Thanks, but I’m not interested in my daughter’s science class being used as a forum for someone to explain how the Bible proves the Earth is 5,000 years old, and I’m not interested in my daughter’s English class being used as a forum for why the Bible proves she belongs to a cult.

    For the record, jjohnsen, I agree with your point that public school is not a place where anything goes.

    I’d love to know how many Christians that are worried about not being able to express themselves politically share your concern about the Muslim center in NYC.

    I supported building the Muslim center in NYC. I am a strong advocate of freedom of religion, especially in this case.

    And, btw, Nate did write an excellent article!

  39. Adam G, I think this statement:

    “Real, genuine, democratic politics are messy and require rubbing shoulders with people with strange ideas who are boorish and stupid by the conventions of the elite. Some of them probably are boorish and stupid. But that’s democracy at work.”

    Hits the nail right on the head. This is exactly my problem with all of the intellectual Mormons’ loud condemnations of Glenn Beck. Beck says incredibly stupid things. Skousen has good points and a lot of bad points. But even Beck and Skousen have the occasional good things to add to the conversation. For whatever strange reason (and frankly I don’t understand the attraction either), Beck taps into something that millions of Americans find important/enlightening/even thrilling. If you are going to live in a democracy, you are going to encounter a lot of people who say things poorly, don’t express themselves well and may even be boorish. But you may find yourself agreeing with these people that, say, raising the gas tax hurts the poor or some other such issue. The goal of the “elites” (and by this I mean relatively intellectual Mormons) should be to have charity and find common ground with even the meanest simpleton. It should not be to wave your flag of separatism and point out how much smarter and superior you are. (Nate, I am not saying you do this, but I think a lot of people in the Bloggernacle do).

  40. Geoff, 43: It’s hard to argue against your point because it’s kind of vague; you are, by admission, condemning an unnamed group of Mormons who are out there in the bloggernaccle somewhere. That’s fine, of course, to talk in general terms, but I feel as though there are some specific ways in which I disagree with you—or at least, where I think your comment needs clarification.

    There seems to be an implication that it’s okay for Beck (and others, but I’ll just pick on Beck here) to say things that are really stupid because, hey, it’s a democracy. Or at least that intellectuals shouldn’t get on Beck’s case for saying stupid things. The problem is that it’s not “okay” to say stupid things; it’s acceptable, understandable, permissible, but it’s not desirable. Sometimes Beck says things that are stupid because they are false—that is certainly not okay. Other times he says correct things but in a stupid way—which is not okay because it promotes thinking about things in a stupid way, which in turn leads to reaching wrong conclusions. Thus, Beck should be criticized for acting stupid—and that criticism will often come from people who are…well, smarter or smarter-acting than he is; i.e., intellectuals.

    Should criticism be dealt with charity? Of course it should. (What shouldn’t be dealt with charity?) Should intellectuals look for common ground and act without arrogance? Yes!

    One more thing about finding common ground: It can only go so far. What I mean is that intellectuals should strive to find common ground with Beck, but at the same time I think they are perfectly justified in discrediting him publicly. For sake of argument, let’s say that Beck gets things wrong 80% of the time (which, I think, many intellectuals would say was being quite generous). Let’s also say that 90% of the remaining 20% is said by someone else in a less stupid way. What we’re left with is a TV personality who is, nearly all the time, a bad source of information. In that case, intellectuals are right to try to steer the public away from Beck’s programing.

    I’ll reiterate that I’m not sure if this is what you meant or not in #43, but…well, there it is :)

  41. “condemning an unnamed group of Mormons who are out there in the bloggernaccle somewhere.”

    Specifics are so much better to make a point.

    And they cause the people mentioned to be become highly irrate and very mad. Especially if the charge was true. :P

  42. “The goal of the “elites” (and by this I mean relatively intellectual Mormons) should be to have charity and find common ground with even the meanest simpleton. It should not be to wave your flag of separatism and point out how much smarter and superior you are”

    Thank you so much! That is exactly one of my main points of what I wrote above.

  43. Jettboy: Careful, lest readers take your “Thank you so much!” as a wave of your flag and your “That is exactly one of my main points of what I wrote above” as an expression of how much smarter and superior you are.

    Point is: Can others tell the difference between your exasperated criticism of “the elites,” as you scare-quote-ingly call them, and the elites’ exasperated criticism of Beck et al.?

  44. Nobody likes to be criticized, I admit. So sometimes it is a pretty fine line between a criticism and an expression of how much smarter you are than everyone else.

    One thing I’ve noticed about humans, is that without exception, they believe their beliefs are right. And even when they decide they were wrong, they then believe their new beliefs are right. Apparently you can’t actually escape that point of view. ;)

    On the other hand, I think it is scary the way the ‘separation of Church and State’ has started to change in interpretation from it’s original meaning. (At least in my opinion.)

  45. I completely reject the idea that people should be forced to buy a product — any product — because somebody else (ie, progressive do-gooders and know-it-alls) think they get to control other peoples’ actions. It is simply unconstitutional and a slippery slope toward authoritarianism

    On the constitutional issue, I completely agree. The federal government should not be allowed to force anybody to buy any product. What about the states though? Should states be allowed to require drivers to carry liability insurance? Should they?

    With regard to catastrophic medical insurance, I don’t think it is going to fly to require people to purchase it at either the federal or the state level. What is much more likely to happen is socialization of catastrophic medical expenses.

    The government has been doing that to purchasers of health insurance in general for three or four decades now, first with ERISA and later with HIPPA. ERISA means community rating for employer based health care insurance. HIPPA isn’t community rating, but some of its provisions have a similar effect.

    So the next time a commanding Democrat majority gets swept into office, since they apparently can’t make people purchase comprehensive medical insurance, they will just try to provide it instead, Medicare style. I think that is an extraordinarily bad idea, for the reasons I mentioned before.

    However, I am not sure it is such a bad idea for the government to socialize and/or provide reinsurance for catastrophic medical expenses. If the Democrats ever thought of compromising with the Republicans every once in a while, they could probably get something like that to pass, and it would go over far better than their force everybody to purchase expensive comprehensive health care insurance plan plus a massive new entitlement to subsidize it.

    I believe on fiscal grounds alone that Obamacare is dead in the water. Three or four years from now even Democrats might be looking at repealing it, and doing something entirely different.

  46. Nate, I am not saying you do this, but I think a lot of people in the Bloggernacle do

    Geoff, you say this a lot but what is your evidence of this. Do you really think the Bloggernacle constitutes intellectual elites and, if it really does, that these intellectual elites are not charitable or accepting of their — non-intellectual? — neighbors?

  47. The bloggernacle consists of people who work sitting by computers with little supervision. The recent BCC post about law school reminded me of that; many lawyers wrote that if what you’re after is money, then become a dentist. It occurred to me that I can’t think of a single blogging dentist. When dentists are working with their hands in someone’s mouth, they can’t type, and when they’re done working, they have a lot better choice of things to do then comment on blogs.

    At any rate “sitting by computers with little supervision” is a kind of intellectual elite life, and any of us could come up with a dozen posts in under half an hour where a blog writer contrasts his and his interlocutors’ elevated intellectual leanings with the more pedestrian life of the church. The amount of charity and acceptance varies; with some it is low. Some perhaps regard their condescension, like Jesus’s, to be a kind of charity.

  48. John F, yes, although I’m not interested in getting into details in this forum. Perhaps if we ever met in person we could discuss it, and perhaps you would even convince me I am wrong. There are many, many exceptions, but many examples of what I am saying. That is really all I am willing to write for now.

  49. BrianJ, regarding your #44, I think it is fine to specifically criticize Beck, especially when he does or says stupid things or gets something wrong. As I have said many, many times, I am mystified by his popularity and annoyed about many things about his show. His book “Broke” has many good chapters and is filled with good information, but is filled with frightenly bad information and, yes, character assassination. But a lot of the criticism of Beck is one-dimensional and shows that all the critics know is what they have seen from Jon Stewart clips on the Daily Show. Frankly, the vast majority of the criticism you see in the Bloggernacle is stupid because if you’re going to take the time to criticize a personality you should at least have some working knowledge of what he has said, written and talked about in many public appearances. I have yet to see anybody write a critical post about Beck that shows they have actually watched him or listened to him or read any of his books. I probably have missed some posts out there, but I am thinking of perhaps a dozen or so things I’ve seen over the years since he became popular.

    So, if the critics never take the time to actually get to know their subject, should we take them seriously, or should we think they are simply displaying group-think? Is it possible that the group-think is related to the general feeling that Glenn Beck’s fans are mostly middle class people who live in flyover country and go to churches? Certainly. Elitism at its most shallow.

  50. I love this typo above: “separation of birch as state”

    Indeed. We definitely need a separation of Birch and State.

    YIKES! We definitely need a separation of Birch and State!. ;-)

  51. Is it possible that the group-think is related to the general feeling that Glenn Beck’s fans are mostly middle class people who live in flyover country and go to churches? Certainly. Elitism at its most shallow.

    I really doubt this, especially in the Bloggernacle. Glenn Beck has earned his derision fair and square by his ridiculous demeanor, statements, opinions and presentation on his show. There is no reason to claim that people in the Bloggernacle who are calling him on it are doing it on the basis that they assume that his audience/supporters live in “flyover country”, as you say, where most Bloggernacle participants are from and still live.

  52. John Mansfield, 54: I do all my blogging while being treated at the dentist.

    Geoff, 56: Thanks for the clarification. I sorta suspected I would find agreement with you, which is why I was cautious in how I “disagreed” in #44.

    I would say that Jon Stewart is a good example of a critic who has taken the time to know his subject—I would say this, but I haven’t really taken the time to know Beck so I’m not in a position to judge whether Stewart has gotten it right :)

  53. Jon Stewart has definitely taken the time to study out Glenn Beck’s positions, behavior, beliefs and opinions and has definitely put in his time watching his show in preparing his criticisms and condemnations of Glenn Beck’s positions and statements through the medium of comic derision. This is a very American approach, by the way. Satire and humore have always been part of the political landscape.

    As to buffoons like Glen Beck or Keith Olberman or Ann Coulter serving us as pundits and talking heads, this is also a long enduring characteristic of American democracy. De Tocqueville observed it as early as the 1830s and remarked that it was a permanent fixture in American democracy — and unavoidable. The difference today is mass media and the ability of voices like Glenn Beck to gain national, poisonous influence as a substitute for political and policy analysis with any substance or value. As Nate pointed out in the article that jettboy is criticizing, the material on offer by Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, among others, is just fluff calculated to inflame passions and lacks evidential grounding or substance. This is why Nate says it is bad for religious conservatives and, by extension, for conservatives more generally, given the importance of the religious conservative voice among the conservative camp. In this sense, jettboy’s post is completely off, as Nate is not dismissing religious conservatives but rather saying that certain current inputs representing or claiming to represent their views and interests are fluff and easily countered by the most basic look at actual facts.

  54. John F, you know I love you, man, but you’re kind of proving my point. You live in the UK. How often do you watch Glenn Beck or listen to his show? Have you ever read any of his books? Did you watch his show on the mall over the summer? Have you ever seen him live? Do you have enough information to declare authoritatively Beck “is just fluff calculated to inflame passions and lacks evidential grounding or substance.”

    If you had read Beck’s book “Broke,” you would realize it was written by a group of five people and is FILLED with evidential grounding and substance. There is probably more evidence in that book than anything I have ever seen on Beck’s main claims. The amount of information is actually overwhelming. However, it is also filled with a LOT of tangential craziness and, yes, character assassination.

    This is exactly my point. People rush to condemn Beck but when I read their criticisms it is obvious after a milisecond that they don’t have enough information for me to take their criticisms seriously.

  55. Geoff, I think it depends on the criticism. I mean, if someone says that Beck acts like a raving buffoon, then admits to only watching about 5 minutes of his show, I still think they probably watched it long enough to have plenty of information to reach that conclusion.

    Well, okay, maybe they would need to watch 10 minutes ;)

  56. BrianJ, yes, he acts like a raving buffoon ALL the time. But then he does incredibly touching and moving things like his peaceful and faith-building meeting on the Mall. And he writes books that are incredibly mean-spirited at one time and incredibly well-researched and cogent in another. As I say, people who draw broad, sweeping conclusions about Beck don’t have enough information to draw those broad, sweeping conclusions, and they prove it again and again.

  57. Do you have enough information to declare authoritatively Beck “is just fluff calculated to inflame passions and lacks evidential grounding or substance.”

    I feel like I have seen his show enough, and read enough about him and from him, to make this statement. However, I have not read his books.

  58. I will get around to reviewing his book “Broke” at some point. As I say, it is filled with some ridiculously embarrassing things and contradicts itself constantly. And Beck engages in tangential character assassination of LBJ, Wilson and FDR that makes him look amateurish. Beck definitely needs an editor with guts. But at the same time, it is incredibly dense and filled with more information in one spot on U.S. government debt than you will find anywhere outside the debt commission report (and actually a lot more historical information than that, and, yes, I have read the debt commission report). Five writers worked on the book, and it shows. My future post is tentatively titled: “Reading Glenn Beck so you don’t have to.” :)

  59. Geoff,

    After reading your comments, if I were asked to summarize your position based on what you’ve said so far, I’d summarize it like this: Geoff believes that Glen Beck is a overly theatric blow hard that happens to be basically correct on his most fundamental issue: the financial situation and how to fix it.

    Therefore, Geoff is concerned about people that merely attack Beck for being a theatrics blow hard because they are literally attacking the fluff and missing the factually correct key message. (Bear in mind, I’m attempting to summarize Geoff position, not my own.)

    How close did I get to your real position?

  60. Jettboy,

    If I were to try to summarize your position, I would think it would be this: The center needs the right more than the other way around. (As opposed to the right not needing the center.)

    Is that correct?

  61. I like the way Bruce summarizes positions.

    Geoff, good point on Beck. Between the radio show and the TV program, the man speaks- mostly off the cuff- for 4 hours every day to a world audience. He’s bound to say some stupid things and make some mistakes. Stewart’s people, MSNBC, and various blogging outlets cherry-pick those gaffes, completely ignoring his valid points and his provable claims.

    Beck is far from perfect, but he’s obsessed with his research and backs up every claim he makes. Unfortunately, his delivery is often unworthy of the very valid points he’s trying to make. If you watch Beck regularly, you get him. You may be annoyed, but you’ve got context.

    All most people think they know of Beck comes from Comedy Central, MSNBC, and HuffPost types. Forming an opinion of the man based on what they get from these outlets is as ridiculous as forming an opinion of a football player by watching only clips of his fumbles.

  62. Bruce N, I would say that would be my position. I also believe, as I discussed in the post, history has proven this the case. When religious conservatives aren’t motivated then they stay home. I have yet to see an election where the religious conservatives are motivated and the Republican center votes in fewer numbers costing an election. At least not for the past 30 years or so.

  63. If I were to summarize Nate Oman’s position, it would be that the right can’t afford to entirely ostracize the center. Certainly such a thing would be bad.

    In other words, I am not sure Nate and Jettboy are ‘disagreeing’ so much as emphasizing different sides of a true equation. Nate’s fear is that the right will become so radical that they lose the center and therefore lose their political power all together. Jettboy’s concern is that if the center marginalizes the right without seeing that they have a legitimate set of concerns that the right has already been lost several times and the end result was the ineffectiveness of the Republican party.

    It seems to me that both are asking for greater tolerance, just of different groups.

  64. Bruce, I would summarize my position differently:

    1)Every major criticism of Beck in the Bloggernacle shows no evidence the critic actually has watched Beck or listened on the radio with any regularity or read any of his books. Personally, I would not make detailed criticism like this based on scanty knowledge, so I think such criticisms are incomplete and sometimes just plain stupid. People who base their opinions of Obama based on Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are idiots. People who base their opinions of Glenn Beck based on Comedy Central and Media Matters are also idiots. I am open to the possibility I may have missed one or even many posts where the critic actually shows he/she has a manageable knowledge of Beck’s show.
    2)Beck sometimes acts like an idiot. He sometimes says stupid things. He sometimes engages in character assassination. He misses broad swathes of the nuances of history. If I had his show, it would be a completely different style. His use of air quotes and writing on the chalk board drive me bananas. This is all true. BUT.
    3)Beck has millions of rabid fans. Some of them are actually quite sophisticated. Beck has had a HUGE impact on what we talk about in popular culture, more than anybody except perhaps Rush Limbaugh. His critics show no knowledge of Beck’s great success at turning the national debate a different direction.
    4)Beck is correct on the debt issue. He is correct on the need to cut spending. He is correct on a LOT of issues. But he also tends to “throw everything on the wall and sees what sticks” so we can’t rely on him for a cogent, complete view of fiscal issues.

    I know that’s not a summary, but there you have it, that’s my take on the Glenn Beck phenomenon.

  65. “Those who govern their thoughts and actions solely by the principles of liberalism or conservatism or intellectualism cannot be expected to agree with all of the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As for me, I find some wisdom in liberalism, some wisdom in conservatism, and much truth in intellectualism—but I find no salvation in any of the” – Dallin H. Oaks.

    The problem is that many are alienating themselves with a base purely on an ideology that can draw you away from the principles of the gospel. Who is to say that Conservatism is any better than liberalism? Today I find more harm with the extreme conservatives who appear to be of loud voice, casting stones left and right (not that the left is not doing it but the Right it sure is smart about it). I often think of the Gadianton Robber’s who will be amongst drawing many astray? ..

    We had a pretty interesting discussion on my BOM class about this very issue of how we are been drawn away from what is “moderation” do to many who persuade us to. Many find Glenn Beck to be right, I agree with him on a number of issues, but the way he makes the point and how hypocritical he sounds many times and the absurd connections many times is just way over the top. Glenn Beck treats the left as all evil, even those that are moderates!. Where is the moderation on all this right wing commentators? .. Moderation in all things is the key brethren. If we think the Gospel principles are all on the Religious Right than we are missing what the Gospel really is
    And wow this comment went all over the place.

  66. Phill said:

    “Today I find more harm with the extreme conservatives who appear to be of loud voice, casting stones left and right (not that the left is not doing it but the Right it sure is smart about it). I often think of the Gadianton Robber’s who will be amongst drawing many astray?”

    Conservative commentators causing more harm? Ever watch MSNBC, Phill? Ever listen to Al Sharpton’s radio show? Ever read the Huffington Post? Media Matters? Daily Kos? NPR?

    I could (and will, if you want) cite extremist talk, “loud voices,” and serious stone casting from each source I listed in the past week…or past day if you want.

  67. *raises hand*

    Would it be okay if I admit I think both sides are ill-mannered trolls and that the fact that we watch their shows/news implicates the American public as well?

  68. “Would it be okay if I admit I think both sides are ill-mannered trolls…”

    Sure. And I would agree.

    “…and that the fact that we watch their shows/news implicates the American public as well?”

    Sure, if we’ve established that there is really something nefarious to be “implicated” in. In other words, is being an ill-mannered troll (or watching them) immoral? I personally don’t think so. The immorality, in my opinion, occurs when those ill-mannered trolls deliberately lie, and when their idiot followers run with it.

  69. D. Sirmize,
    I think I did write that the left says it too, didn’t I? .. What I meant is that the Right is making the loudest noise. It’s rather interesting for you to say that CNN and NPR are of the left, when they are perhaps the only moderate media outlet when compared to the Biased FOX or MSNBC. I’m glad to have CNN on BYU screens. I also think there is a reason why KSL dropped Hannity from their station too.
    I’d be interested for you to quote from NPR and CNN in the past day you say ? or week.. of the point you want to make. I’d just like to see where you are coming form that is all. Quotes from NPR and CNN that is, Huffington and MSNBC are biased just like FOX and anything Murdoch owns.

  70. As Nate pointed out in the article that jettboy is criticizing, the material on offer by Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, among others, is just fluff calculated to inflame passions and lacks evidential grounding or substance.

    A conclusion like that suggests you have read / heard very little any of these. It is true, however, that populist commentators often summarize the general attitudes of an entire political movement into pithy comments. That does not mean, however, that the entire political movement is without philosophical grounding, let alone that the preponderance of the audience is wholly unaware of it.

    In short, if you want to understand the Tea Party, for example, quit listening to its cheerleaders and start reading their inspiration.

  71. Phill, if you’ll read my comment again you’ll notice that I did not mention CNN. The fact that you thought I did, then based much of your last comment on it makes me wonder if I should waste my time responding.

    Now, I don’t know what you meant; I was simply responding to what you wrote, which was:

    “Today I find more harm with the extreme conservatives who appear to be of loud voice”

    So it’s funny that after accusing the Right of harmful noise (more harmful noise than comes from the Left), using no citations or examples to make your case, all the sudden the onus is on me to prove you wrong.

    It’s okay, I’ll bite. Setting CNN aside (because I didn’t mention it), let’s look at NPR. Their “noise” isn’t so much soundbytes or quotes as it is tactic and strategery. Keeping with the dominant theme of late, let’s take the Sept. 8, 2010 edition of “On Point” for example. The subject: Sarah Palin. Now, you’d think something called “public radio” would have some sort of obligation to present a fair, fact-based discussion. You’d be wrong.

    The guests were Alexander Burns of the Politico and Michael Joseph Gross, author of a Vanity Fair hit piece on Palin. A piece, by the way, that’s been largely discredited since. But no matter, On Point gave the vitriolic Burns plenty of time to rip Palin undisputed. The worst part were the callers. At one point in the show, both host and guests mocked Palin for the quote “I can see Russia from my house,” which she never said (that came from a SNL skit).

    Fast forward to last Tuesday, when On Point’s guests– all from the Left– spent two hours all but claiming Palin was to blame for the Tuscon shootings. Again, the callers were horrible, none of them reigned in by the show’s self-righteous host. Last Friday On Point was at it again, smearing Palin for her response to all of the vitriol.

    The links are still live. Go to onpointradio.org and you can hear all of those shows.

    Back to you, Phill.

  72. D. Sirmize, you are right, you did not mention CNN, I think I just got carried away with it while listening to a Glenn Beck throwing CNN and all major network channels on the LEFT’s bag just before I wrote the comment, I’m sorry for misquoting you on that, point taken.

    I didn’t directly mean for the onus to be on you to prove me wrong, you just offered the evidence as having at hand and seriously I was interested to read what you had, since NPR gets attacked aggresively by the right. I listen to NPR frequently and I do find their reporting the closest to be fair an balanced in today’s media. True, most listeners are left leaning. In most part because those of the conservative right want to hear what they like to hear, and Fox News and other conservative talk shows offer that, biased at best.

    I’ll go and listen to the show and see what you are referring to once I have time. Throughout the week I did listen to a lot of reporting regarding today’s political rhetoric and language used that has sounded the alarm or has caused a lot of discomfort amongst americans, and of course, Sarah Palin and other’s have been on the spot for it, and I personally did not hear anything that sounded as that of an extremist or biased, but I’ll go and hear that show that you are referring to. Thx for the link.

  73. Here you go Phil, and caution its not for the faint of heart:

    http://michellemalkin.com/2011/01/10/the-progressive-climate-of-hate-an-illustrated-primer-2000-2010/

    For even more fun with leftist violence tenancies thrown at the right, here you go:

    http://michellemalkin.com/2011/01/14/blame-righty-a-condensed-history/

    Yes, I believe CNN is as left leaning as MSNBC. The same goes for ABCNBCBS. I don’ watch anything other than FOX News and for good reason. They are all liars and attack everything I believe in. So, I vote with my eyeballs.

  74. Phill, I *love* NPR and listen to its podcasts for hours every day while I drive, run, walk, work out at the gym, etc. I can make the following pronouncement with full confidence: it is *definitely* left-leaning. This doesn’t mean every single program is. Planet Money, for example, is very fair. They actually interview left-leaning economists and libertarians about equally, for example. The Diane Riem show — left. Talk of the Nation — left. Fresh Air — socialist. All Things Considered — slightly left but fair. There is simply no denying it, the culture that could not stand Juan Williams on Fox is a culture that is left-leaning. However, having said that, I still would rather listen to NPR than Sean Hannity, whose TV and radio shows I simply can’t tolerate. Beck, meh. Limbaugh, sometimes. The shows I really prefer are: Medved, Jason Lewis, NPR, Alan Colmes and various podcasts from the Cato Institute and Reason magazine. So, I think I’m getting a broad range of info from many different sources.

  75. The “highbrow” left-leaning media has all sorts of well written and well thought out articles. I am thinking of the New Republic, the Atlantic, and of course the New York Times. No one should rely on them for all his news though, any more than someone should rely solely on right leaning outlets, even those of the caliber of the National Review, the American Interest, and the Weekly Standard.

    I hesitate to say while open minded people ought to have substantial interest in reading a fair minded article from any point of view, I am never surprised to find out that many liberals flat out refuse to read anything written in any conservative journal of opinion. You cannot exactly defend yourself in a contest of ideas if you don’t know what the other side is thinking, to say nothing of the inconsiderable notion that something they say might be of some real merit here and there.

  76. This is going to be a long comment. I ask in advance for indulgence because I think it needs to be addressed.

    Jettboy, how would you compare the lists from Malkin to the following list? It covers only the last 30 months, not 10 years as Malkin’s does.

    =======================================================================================

    – July 2008: A gunman named Jim David Adkisson, agitated at how “liberals” are “destroying America,” walks into a Unitarian Church and opens fire, killing two churchgoers and wounding four others.

    – October 2008: Two neo-Nazis are arrested in Tennessee in a plot to murder dozens of African-Americans, culminating in the assassination of President Obama.

    – December 2008: A pair of “Patriot” movement radicals — the father-son team of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, who wanted “to attack the political infrastructure” — threaten a bank in Woodburn, Oregon, with a bomb in the hopes of extorting money that would end their financial difficulties, for which they blamed the government. Instead, the bomb goes off and kills two police officers. The men eventually are convicted and sentenced to death for the crime.

    – December 2008: In Belfast, Maine, police discover the makings of a nuclear “dirty bomb” in the basement of a white supremacist shot dead by his wife. The man, who was independently wealthy, reportedly was agitated about the election of President Obama and was crafting a plan to set off the bomb.

    – January 2009: A white supremacist named Keith Luke embarks on a killing rampage in Brockton, Mass., raping and wounding a black woman and killing her sister, then killing a homeless man before being captured by police as he is en route to a Jewish community center.

    – February 2009: A Marine named Kody Brittingham is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate President Obama. Brittingham also collected white-supremacist material.

    – April 2009: A white supremacist named Richard Poplawski opens fire on three Pittsburgh police officers who come to his house on a domestic-violence call and kills all three, because he believed President Obama intended to take away the guns of white citizens like himself. Poplawski is currently awaiting trial.

    – April 2009: Another gunman in Okaloosa County, Florida, similarly fearful of Obama’s purported gun-grabbing plans, kills two deputies when they come to arrest him in a domestic-violence matter, then is killed himself in a shootout with police.

    – May 2009: A “sovereign citizen” named Scott Roeder walks into a church in Wichita, Kansas, and assassinates abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

    – June 2009: A Holocaust denier and right-wing tax protester named James Von Brunn opens fire at the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.

    – February 2010: An angry tax protester named Joseph Ray Stack flies an airplane into the building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas. (Media are reluctant to label this one “domestic terrorism” too.)

    – March 2010: Seven militiamen from the Hutaree Militia in Michigan and Ohio are arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate local police officers with the intent of sparking a new civil war.

    – March 2010: An anti-government extremist named John Patrick Bedell walks into the Pentagon and opens fire, wounding two officers before he is himself shot dead.

    – May 2010: A “sovereign citizen” from Georgia is arrested in Tennessee and charged with plotting the violent takeover of a local county courthouse.

    – May 2010: A still-unidentified white man walks into a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque and sets it afire, simultaneously setting off a pipe bomb.

    – May 2010: Two “sovereign citizens” named Jerry and Joe Kane gun down two police officers who pull them over for a traffic violation, and then wound two more officers in a shootout in which both of them are eventually killed.

    – July 2010: An agitated right-winger and convict named Byron Williams loads up on weapons and drives to the Bay Area intent on attacking the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, but is intercepted by state patrolmen and engages them in a shootout and armed standoff in which two officers and Williams are wounded.

    – September 2010: A Concord, N.C., man is arrested and charged with plotting to blow up a North Carolina abortion clinic. The man, 26-year–old Justin Carl Moose, referred to himself as the “Christian counterpart to (Osama) bin Laden” in a taped undercover meeting with a federal informant.

  77. Mark Brown, there is only one problem. White supremacists and Neo-nazis are not recognizably right wing or left wing – in the sense that anyone advocating either position would be summarily drummed out of any position of influence in either party.

    Historically speaking, however, progressives, the left, and the Democratic party in general are much more closely associated with eugenics and racial superiority schemes than the Republican party. The Republican party was practically founded on the idea of opposing slavery, where the Democratic party was the dominant party of the South as late as the 1980s. In the early part of this century, enthusiasm for eugenics and proto-fascist big government in general was sky high among progressives, including notoriously, Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood (wrt to eugenics and abortion as a means of achieving it) and among FDR’s brain trust with regard to quasi-fascist top down industrial control schemes, such as the National Recovery Act.

    That is not to say that racism has not had some purchase among Republicans through all that time period, but rather that the sharp turn against racism didn’t occur among progressives until about sixty or seventy years ago, where by comparison the Republican party has been hospitable to the color-blind theory of racial relations for going on one hundred fifty years now.

  78. Or in short, there isn’t a Republican gathering in the country that would be sympathetic to any of those actions. They are simply not “conservative” by any stretch of the imagination. “Radical conservative” is an oxymoron.

    The stuff that Malkin is mostly complaining about lies in the realm of free speech, and the question is of course how many gatherings of Democrats in the country are or would be sympathetic to that sort of material. In one case you are talking about the criminally insane, and the other about people who merely joke about how they wish they could abort and assassinate politicians or how they are the bloodthirsty epitome of all evil, Hitler reincarnate and so on.

    There are certainly plenty of lunatics who fancy that they have something in common with conservatives these days, but personally I don’t see a fraction of the “hate” with regard to Obama than what was regularly propagated with regard to Bush and McCain. In terms of protests, signs, jokes, etc the “Tea Partiers” are a picture of decorum by comparison.

    I know of a substantial minority who have strange conspiracy theories about the New World order, U.N. domination, Obama’s birth certificate and so on who are indeed full throated opponents of big government, big spending, and high taxes. But where are all the ones who depict him as bloodthirsty, evil, deserving of abortion, or liable to put millions of people to death if he had the chance? Statistically non-existent, so far as I can tell.

  79. I know of a substantial minority who have strange conspiracy theories about the New World order, U.N. domination, Obama’s birth certificate and so on who are indeed full throated opponents of big government, big spending, and high taxes.

    I agree, Mark D. And it is that substantial minority which is worrisome, at least to me. While some of the loony lefties make offensive speeches and say they wish Bush or Palin were dead, the loony righties dispense with the speeches and get right to the shooting. And it is precisely because the loonies are especially susceptible to paranoia regarding the government taking over your life, confiscating your guns and taxing you into the poorhouse that we need to be especially careful with our speech. In particular, I remember Sean Hannity warning that Obama planned a large-scale gun confiscation. Because of his inflammatory speech, I believe he bears partial responsibility for the murders of policemen and civilians in the list above. And it goes without saying that his prediction was wrong.

  80. In other words, I’d much rather put up with thousands of offensive posters and speeches than see a single incident where a man walks into a church with a gun and kills “liberals who are destroying America.”

  81. No doubt. However, I am certainly not willing to squelch perfectly legitimate political speech in this country just so a handful of the criminally insane don’t get the wrong idea.

    What liberals are complaining about is not rhetoric so much as it is the impudence that anyone could actually be seriously opposed to their plans for the country. Some taste, timeliness, and discretion is always in good order, but you can’t rule out the expression of legitimate political views. Not in America anyway.

  82. Mark Brown, I think we can agree that extremists on both sides are problematic, especially if they are encouraging/tolerating violence. The issue is: to what extent are their viewpoints tolerated and/or adopted by the people who actually run things and make decisions with the party apparatus on the “right” or the “left.” There is significant evidence that Obama was influenced by left-wing extremism much more than Palin is influenced by right-wing extremism, yet I’m not concerned about it because that influence is irrelevant to how Obama has governed.

    The left seems obsessed at trying to “prove” things that fall in that same category of irrelevance, but on the right. The last week, and the response of even journals like the New Republic and various other respected commentators, shows that such a strategy does more harm than good because most intelligent people reject such arguments.

  83. I don’t disagree entirely Geoff. But I do think there is a better question to ask.

    We all agree that there are extremists on both sides who push the limits of free speech. So the question, really the elephant in the room, is: why does such an alarming percentage of the actual, physical violence come only extremists on the right? Is it possible for us to compile a list like the one above where people motivated by traditionally liberal causes committed violence on this scale? I don’t know, but I can’t think of any. The only example which I can think of is the Unabomber, and that was years ago.

    I’m not trying to suggest that conservative rhetoric is the direct cause of this violence. My point is that conservative people don’t do enough to denounce it. That is the problem with populist politics — you are going to attract a lot of good people, but you are also going to attract a lot of sketchy types. I think a lot more could be done to isolate and quarantine them.

  84. why does such an alarming percentage of the actual, physical violence come only extremists on the right?

    Liberals often make the mistake that anyone they don’t like must be on the “right”. Loughner was no right wing extremist. More like a 9/11 truther in political orientation, one who would “well up in anger” at the mention of George W. Bush.

    As far as the possible prevalence of anarchist violence in the past couple decades is concerned, may I suggest that the big government status quo in this country is of liberal / progressive construction. Conservatives have rarely if ever reversed any progressive advance in over a century. Most Republicans aren’t even temperamentally inclined to.

    So if you are down and out and a little bit unstable, who are you going to blame? The architects or the accomplices?

  85. “…why does such an alarming percentage of the actual, physical violence come only extremists on the right?

    Or, more accurately, what you happen to interpret as “right.”

    “Is it possible for us to compile a list like the one above where people motivated by traditionally liberal causes committed violence on this scale?”

    Um, ever heard of Stalin, Mussolini, Che? Or more local and recent– the ultra-environmentalist Discovery Channel hostage taker or the Media Matters devotee who shot up the Florida school board meeting?

  86. Or should I say there is a structural imbalance that places anarchists on the “right wing” of the contemporary political spectrum, and anarchists appear to outnumber Marxist revolutionaries at the moment. Former “bearded Marxists” are now senators and presidential advisors. Anarchists, on the other hand, are unlikely to be found ever advising anybody.

  87. Mark Brown, I guess we’re going to have to agree to disagree on what you interpret as the “right.” If you actually look into what white supremicists say and write on their web sites, their populist economic programs have more in common with Obama than the tea party. Does being a racist make you a “right-winger?” In your world, it appears automatic. I see the world as much more complex than that. There are plenty of racist “left-wingers” as well (Che was a racist, in addition to being a homophobe). There are wackos of all stripes, and trying to link them with politicians you don’t like, especially when those politicians have disavowed them, is a bit of a stretch, to say the least.

  88. Guys, I am defining the loony right according to the standard articulated for the subtantial minority in Mark D.’s comment 86:

    I know of a substantial minority who have strange conspiracy theories about the New World order, U.N. domination, Obama’s birth certificate and so on who are indeed full throated opponents of big government, big spending, and high taxes.

    Are you seriously trying to tell me that the majority of these folks voted for Barack Obama? I’ll bet $100.00 that not a single one of them did.

    You are correct, in the past the anarchists have often been associated with the Left — I notice that you have no problem connecting Stalin and Che to American liberals, even though they themselves would probably argue with it. But over the past generation most of them have come from the right (as defined above), and they are homegrown domestic terrorists, not revolutionries in other countries.

    So I’ll ask the question again — why is so much domestic terrorism associated with the group of people who think the government is doing unconstitutional things like taking away their guns and raising their taxes? In a way, it isn’t a fair question. We seem to take turns, from one generation to the next, alternating which side of the political aisle has to take the blame for the crazies. I’m saying now that I think it is the conservatives’ turn. We can’t just ignore these murders and wash our hands of them now, anymore than the Democrats of the late 60s could ignore the violence and murders committed by the Black Panthers.

  89. Or should I say there is a structural imbalance that places anarchists on the “right wing” of the contemporary political spectrum, and anarchists appear to outnumber Marxist revolutionaries at the moment.

    Mark D., #94, precisely.

  90. Mark D: your question reminds me of those I get from my self-labeled ultra-conservative cousins: “Why aren’t Muslims around the world doing more to decry Muslim terrorists? Why don’t you see more terrorists from other religions/why are all terrorists Muslim?”

    It doesn’t matter whether my cousins are right or not—or how wrong they are or however one wants to frame this—what I find interesting is the comparison between what they perceive and what you perceive. The questions are really the same. And I appreciate the irony of you essentially asking my cousins your questions, and them asking the Muslims the same questions.

  91. Mark Brown, I love you man, but on this issue, you are a one trick pony. You seem to feel a constant need to lecture conservatives on things they should be doing that in your opinion they are not, and it doesn’t seem to occur to you that I, who am a fiscal conservative but a social moderate, might have as much in common with a white supremacist as I do with a jellyfish. Whatever, dude, we definitely see the world very differently.

  92. I would like to throw in my two cents here.

    First, I think Mark has a point. Right now, you are more likely to see “conservative” nuts go violent than “liberal” ones.

    However, I think there are a few point to consider here:

    1. Respectable conservatives DO distance themselves from such nuts quite effectively. I can’t agree that conservatives need to do more in this regard. This is nothing like Muslims celebrating in the streets over Muslim extremists having bombed someone. Nothing like it. (Granted, the media probably creates a false view of this to some degree.)

    2. In fact, they are so effective at it, that conservative apparently don’t even identify with most of the groups in questions — like white supremacists.

    3. I like Mark’s point that the violence has gone back and forth over the decades and that right now, it’s swinging more to “the right.” But I would point out that the Black Panthers had a point even if it was reprehensible how they handled it sometimes.

    I worry about the way things are going in America. Maybe things have always been this virulent, or maybe not. It seems like it’s getting worse to me. And I honestly believe it is because of how the courts are now being used to create laws. We are effectively removing important issues from the political process and thereby disenfranchising people as we go.

    If “the right” is the current ones tending to break to violence, there might actually be a connection. It might be that when the left is the ones to go to violence, it’s because things have swung too far that way. And the reverse might also be true.

  93. Kind of curious this interest in the politics of those who kill four or six at a time. They’re relative rarities, so I guess we find them very interesting. Those who kill one or two at time, on the other hand, number in the thousands each year. I wonder if anyone ever checked if there were more Bush or Gore voters among those you were convicted of murder over the last decade. We know how the murderers’ precincts overwhelmingly voted (murder is more concentrated in urban areas, as are Democratic voters), but I suspect most of the murderers did not themselves make it to the polls in 2000.

  94. Geoff, I’m not intentionally lecturing anybody. I gave a concrete example (which I notice nobody has bothered to address):

    Sean Hannity repeatedly made false and inflammatory claims that Obama was going to confiscate everybody’s guns and ammo. In response, several people shot and killed other people, including some police officers. It’s pretty simple. Does Hannity bear any responsibility — any whatsoever — for that? In my opinion, he does. So when we have multiple fatalities on one hand, it’s pretty hard for me to get worked up over that fact that lots of people on the left say mean things about Bush or Palin.

  95. Sean Hannity repeatedly made false and inflammatory claims that Obama was going to confiscate everybody’s guns and ammo. In response, several people shot and killed other people, including some police officers. It’s pretty simple. Does Hannity bear any responsibility — any whatsoever — for that? In my opinion, he does. So when we have multiple fatalities on one hand, it’s pretty hard for me to get worked up over that fact that lots of people on the left say mean things about Bush or Palin.

    First of all, I am not a fan of Sean Hannity and others of his ilk. I dislike his radio and TV show for a number of reasons. Having said that, I still don’t see the link between his comments and gun violence. Your comment is wildly speculative and filled with conjecture. A concrete example of someone who credits Sean Hannity would be helpful, but one I doubt that exists.

    Was Hannity’s comment off-base and charged with political rhetoric? You bet! That is one reason why I can’t watch or listen to him. He would be more correct in saying that some or many in the Democrat party want to limit and/or control gun ownership.

  96. “In response, several people shot and killed other people, including some police officers. It’s pretty simple. Does Hannity bear any responsibility — any whatsoever — for that?”

    Yes, he does.

    Over on another thread on BCC, someone suggested (on an entirely different subject) that there might be a difference between legal responsibility and moral responsibility. Legal responsibility, at least in theory, adds up to 100%. Moral responsibility can exceed 100% because there is such a thing as joint responsibility.

    So while clearly Sean Hannity has 0% legal responsibility (and that by law under freedom of the press / speech) I think he has at least some moral responsibility. How much I don’t know. (But considering my love for Hannity, I’ll admit I think it’s quite a bit.)

    However, Mark, I want to point out that I don’t hate the media for nothing.

    I have never in my life watched Fox news. But I’ve watched CNN and the regular networks before before I ‘kicked the habit.’ And I have to tell you, I do not buy that Sean Hannity is more morally responsible for something like this then the left leaning news in general. It very hard to constantly see one’s point of view misrepresented, over and over, and over. And prior to Fox News (which admittedly balanced it out be creating the reverse problem) that’s what it felt like. All the time. Constantly.

    Rush Limbaugh really was nothing more than the the free market finally filling an unfilled market need: news told in a conservative friendly way. Once Rush proved the market existed, Sean Hannity and Fox News were obvious next steps.

    Let me be clear: I am out rightly blaming the left leaning news for the existence of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Fox News. I do not believe Rush would exist today if the news hadn’t been so incredibly biased. Therefore the ‘moral responsibly’ does not lay solely with “the right.” It is an overlapping responsibility that largely includes “the left” as well.

    I think this is the thing I have concern with what you are saying, Mark. It’s not that I disagree with anything you’ve said so far. In fact, I whole heatedly agree with you on all counts, apparently.

    It’s that you seem to have entirely missed that there is no such thing as “punctuation” like this. Violence from what you are calling “the right” is no more caused by the political right than it is by the political left. You are seeing a ‘direct cause and effect’ that isn’t there in my opinion. It’s all a reaction to the rest of the political climate of fear and hate that we’ve all been helping produce.

  97. Brian, the shooters themselves said that they thought the administration was going to take away all their guns. The few months immediately after the 2008 election were absolutely filled with this kind of hysterical nonsense. Hannity and Rush were both on the bandwagon.

    I don’t think it is necessary to have the kind of proof that would stand up in court — “I did this because Hannity told me to”. I think it is only neecessary to be part of an atmosphere which promotes or laughingly (if unintentionally) approves of it.

    Two Sundays ago, the day after the shootings in Tucson, I was in priesthood meeting at church. Several of the high priests were talking about it in joking terms. I personally heard latter-day saints say “Well, we might need to take out a few more congresscritters before they get the message.” There was also a wisecrack made about congresswoman Giffords, to the effect that she was lucky she was shot in the head because she didn’t have any brains there to hurt. To the extent we allow this kind of talk among us, we are all culpable.

  98. Mark Brown: in the past the anarchists have often been associated with the Left — I notice that you have no problem connecting Stalin and Che to American liberals, even though they themselves would probably argue with it.

    The New York Times (most particularly in the person of one Walter Duranty) spent much of the past century apologizing for Communist dictatorships, the Soviet Union in particular. I would say that makes the association with mainstream liberalism pretty strong.

    Organizations like the KKK have historically had closer ties to progressives and “liberals” than anyone remotely resembling an American style conservative. Ever watched “O Brother Where Art Thou?” The association of the progressive candidate for governor with the KKK is no accident of history.

    Seventy and more years ago, the left flew the flag for racism in this country, while the right organized the opposition. American style conservatives are the true heirs of classical liberalism. Whereas American “liberals” are illiberal in spades, due to the heritage of big government proto-fascist progressivism.

    As Paul Ryan said, progressivism is the enemy of the very idea of this country, an effort to undo the American revolution and replace it with a European style big government autocracy. The fiscal throes that nearly every state in the Union is experiencing? The last gasp of fascism, the party of the fasces, the syndicates and the labor unions.

  99. Bruce N: Right now, you are more likely to see “conservative” nuts go violent than “liberal” ones.

    You have the quotation marks, but I must nonetheless object to the whole idea of a conservative “nut”. “Nuts” aren’t conservative, practically by definition. American style conservatives are classical liberals with a traditionalist orientation. Conservatives of all stripes value restraint, prudence, and incrementalism. Edmund Burke is perhaps the prototypical example from modern history. There is no such thing as a “radical conservative”.

    That doesn’t mean of course that there aren’t people who can vaguely be classified as “traditionalist radicals”. They are just not conservative, that is all. There is nothing conservative about shooting your neighbor. Conservatives know that liberty is in and through law and limited government. Someone who seeks to break the most fundamental of laws is the enemy of liberty, to say nothing of community, order and tradition.

    No conservative is going to suggest that we repeal Social Security and leave millions of senior citizens in dire straits overnight, no matter how dubious the constitutionality, structure, or finances of the program are. But a “radical” might. Radicals can and do. That is what makes them radical.

  100. I don’t mean to suggest that “O Brother Where Art Thou?” is based on any actual events, of course. I just find the progressive turn away from eugenics and racism (and subsequent attempt to pin it on their opponents) fascinating in the extreme – to say nothing of the pretense that National Socialism or Italian Fascism is “right wing”, when to this very day the American left is the party of fascists and socialists of all stripes.

  101. Mark Brown, I am going to say this a last time, and then I’m done, because this thread is becoming very circular. Sean Hannity is no more responsible for people panicked about guns than Al Gore is responsible for environmental freaks doing eco-terrorism. There is this little thing called the First Amendment. One of the things it does it protect unpopular speech. This also means that the person responsible for his actions is the person who performs the actions, not the person who “incites” him (with the obvious exception of crying fire in a crowded theater). Given the Clinton administration’s war on guns, and the Waco massacre, there were legitimate reasons to fear overweaning government with the Dems taking power. Holder has made it clear he wants more gun control. Fortunately for the Dems, gun control has moved waaaaay down on their priority list, because it’s an electoral loser in most of the country.

    Sorry, this attempt to pin the blame for the “climate of fear” on “the right” is pathetic. I really need to be blunt about this. If the congressperson killed had been a Republican hero, and the killer had been a left-wing wacko who prayed to pictures of Keith Olbermann every night, I would be saying the same thing. Keith Olbermann, that scum, would *still* not be responsible for the actions of the guy (unless we could prove he paid him personally). The First Amendment allows Keith Olbermann to spout off as much as he wants, and if you want to talk hate speech, go watch MSNBC for a few hours every night.

    Now, if you want to make the claim that we as Latter-day Saints should maintain a civil tone in our discourse and if you want to encourage public figures to tone down certain rhetoric, I’m with you. Personally, I think Hannity is horrible, practically unwatchable, so I don’t watch him much. If your point is that Hannity’s tone is often over-the-top and if you want to say such a tone is often uncivil, I’m with you. But claiming that Hannity has incited anybody to do anything violent and is responsible in any way for their actions, sorry, you lost me because pinning responsibility on people for exercising their first amendment rights is a slippery slope indeed.

  102. No worries Geoff. I can see your point, though I do not agree with it. I guess what has been most disconcerting to me over the past week and a half has been the way we have rushed to exonerate ourselves, like when children at play break a window and they all immediately say “It wasn’t me!” I think it would be much better for us to adopt the example of the apostles of old and say “Lord, is it I?” And I really do fear what His answer would be.

    I find your defense of free speech admirable, if a bit misguided, and I appreciate your willingness to not place blame on people on the left if the situation had been reversed. However, I will point out that you are a pretty lonely conservative holding that position. For instance, people all along the entire spectrum of conservative opinion shapers, from National Review to Human Events to jettboy’s poster girl, Michelle Malkin, have not hesitated to blame Al Gore for the Unabomber.

  103. Mark D., that is a pretty impressive feat, proving logically, metaphysically, and ontologically that it is impossible for such a thing as a conservative nut to exist. However, reality contradicts you. Take a look at this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhMepzqJvIw

    Those people are a)conservative, and b)bat-guano crazy.

    I win.

  104. Mark Brown, I think it is a little condescending to call those folks “crazy”. Enthusiastic, naive, cult-ish perhaps, but certainly no greater threat to the Republic than Obama fans, who not so many months ago were proclaiming him a veritable Messiah, the end of a long night of darkness, leg tingling and all.

    A few years back I met some people who wanted to pay off the national debt with a couple of trillion dollar coins. Now that is crazy, from a policy standpoint, but it doesn’t come close to the level of Loughner or McVeigh. It also isn’t remotely conservative, any more than a Maoist could come close to being properly termed a “liberal”.

    The only people properly termed “radical liberals” are anti-traditionalist libertarians. Those on the far end of the leftist spectrum are statists and totalitarians, none of whom can rightly be considered “liberal” either.

    So you can have leftist violence all day long, but there really isn’t such a thing as “liberal violence” any more than there is “conservative violence”. Violence is anti-liberal and anti-conservative.

  105. I think we can all conclude that the Media has a strong influence on today’s society, and that certain voices, in my opinion, are polarizing the nation even further, and mummifying people who fail to listen to news and programs outside their built up bubble.

    I really dislike Hannity and Beck’s shows, but I do listen to them every other day or so to know what is the Right’s point of view and what angle they are viewing things. I also listen to MSNBC’s OLberman and Rachel Maddow’s shows to hear what angle they view things. I read the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Wash. Post to get a good read and differences of opinions. But I know that most of the public don’t dare to do that. Most of my Conservative friends don’t even dare switching channel’s from Fox news, like Jettboy here( Who they Admittedly are a Conservative channel, therefore Bias in a lot of opinions and commentators ), and cry out and call every other Network channel socialist and evil.. I mean where is the tolerance and understanding on that ?

    Bringing the gospel into light here, Uchtdorf’s talk on conference hit the nail on this very matter. Just saying.

    With no means of political discourse and understanding, we as people and nation will not go anywhere. News and shows that use their opinions as a fact and truth, as means to infuriate will lead no where, not a principle that I share, whether from the Left or the Right.

  106. John C.
    You can sigh all you want. I am not going to go away or shut up. Have a nice day ;)

    “I mean where is the tolerance and understanding on that?”

    It broke a long time ago. As I said before, they may sound “tolerant” and “understanding” to you, but they do not for me. Fox news has opinions *and* news that I trust. The other networks do not. Just because you say the others are more truthful and unbiased doesn’t make them that. Is Fox News biased? You betcha’! And that is the way I like it because what they say is the bias of truth to me.

Comments are closed.