[This Monday’s Archive, “Platonic Conservatives,” was originally published on October 1, 2003. To what extent do you think it applies to those conservatives today who are rooting for the dollar and the American economy to crash, for Russian barbarism to win and Western Civilization to lose? They were among us twenty years ago – are they among us for the same reasons today? Your thoughts, please!]
TTP, October 1, 2003
There is an organization of conservatives which has met in private thrice annually since 1981. As a member for over 20 years, I am obliged not to mention its name or membership. Suffice it to say that virtually every major conservative figure in America belongs.
Its meetings are the only place where all the leaders of the entire conservative movement can get together to socialize and strategize. During the Reagan Presidency, the organization played a principal role in creating popular support for the “Reagan Doctrine” which successfully eliminated the Soviet Union.
My wife and I have formed many close friendships with its members and always look forward to attending its meetings. Having just returned from its latest at the end of September, I regret having to report to you that it was the most disappointing in two decades.
I could understand the members giving a standing ovation to Tom McClintock (I can mention the names of non-member speakers) and their lack of enthusiasm for Arnold Pro-Abortion/Pro-Gaf Schwarzenegger. I could not understand their giving a standing ovation to Alan Keyes who claimed that the September 11 attack on America was “A warning from God.”
I consider such a claim morally depraved. What is the difference between it and that of the French and other haters of America who said our country “had it coming” and “got what it deserved”?
Permeating the meeting was the message of America as a sinful nation. America is deserving of God’s Wrath because it won’t permit the Ten Commandments in courtrooms, won’t permit states to outlaw sodomy, allows the ACLU to conduct a vicious war on Christianity, and has permitted the slaughter of millions of unborn (and even partially-born) babies over the last 30 years.
There was not one word of praise for President Bush, not one single seminar or speaker on the War on Terrorism or Iraq. There was nothing about foreign policy or national defense at all.
The panel that was supposed to speak on Defense and Foreign Policy was dominated by former Congressman Bob Barr who has now sold out to the left as a paid consultant to the ACLU. Never mentioning his being on the ACLU payroll, all Barr did was attack John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act. I thought I was at a Richard Gephardt or Howard Dean rally.
What is going on here? One reason is that conservatives, especially the “paleo” variety (as opposed to the “neo” conservatives who have no qualms about defending America) have become infected with same disease as libertarians — the philosophical infection of Platonism.
A Platonist is someone for whom only the ideal matters. The real world never measures up. Platonic conservatives despise the real actual America for not living up to the ideal America, thus condemning it as sinful.
Here’s the question to ask: What country on earth is more moral and less sinful than America? By any set of moral criteria in terms of political, economic, and religious freedom, what other nation comes close to America?
The only country that could give today’s America a run for its morality would be a historical America at some point in its past, when, for example, the courts respected and upheld the Constitution far more than now. Would that point, however, be when we still had slavery? Jim Crow laws? We must compare America today with an American past that was real, not an idealized fiction.
In the real world right now, not in some unachievable ideal world in never-never land, there is no country on our planet less deserving of God’s wrath than America.
Certainly, there is justification in being outraged at renegade federal courts trashing Christianity and the Constitution, at the endless slaughter of babies in the womb.
Certainly, America can morally improve itself and vastly so. Yet America, warts and all, still remains a magnificently moral nation, the great majority of its citizens peaceful and decent human beings, a country worth our pride and love and patriotism.
It is time for conservatives to abandon their Platonism, and love America as she is, not only for what they want her to be. “Anti-American conservatives” used to be an oxymoron. Let’s hope by the time the organization I’m talking about meets again in early 2004, it will be once again.