A Voice in the Wilderness In Defense of "Mere Conservatism"


November 2010: Country/Back

By: R.J. Moeller

While in the car on the way to grocery store the other day I was "treated" to Justin Timberlake performing a lovely live rendition of his profound, insightful ditty "Sexy/Back."  As I listened to the trite refrains, lyrics of my own began to formulate... Justin-Timberlake16

I’m takin’ country back (Yeah!)

Them Dem’s and Lib’s don’t know how to act (Yeah!)

We need another Newt’s Contract (Yeah!)

It’s time we all pick up the slack (Yeah!)

(Take ‘em to the mid-terms)

Okay, so Justin Timberlake likely won’t be placing a “Featuring: R.J. ‘Moeller Bear’ Moeller” label on one of his hot tracks anytime soon – but maybe he should.  I have a seemingly inexhaustible storehouse of ideas for witty political parodies set to the tune of popular songs in my noggin.   I see myself sort of like a conservative version of Weird Al.

If Weird Al actually did comedy, that is.

Truth be told, in times like these, when the world around you has apparently gone something more desperate than “mad”, you have to be able to laugh at the seriousness of the trouble we’re in.  They say that laughter is the best medicine, which I tend to agree with, but don’t miss the subtext of that cliché: it implies something is making you sick.  I’m more than willing to look for the silver lining in our current politically (and culturally) dark clouds, but only if I know that the rest of you who share my general worldview and values are willing to help huff and puff and blow those cumulonimbuses clouds of “change” back from whence they came.

We’re flooded in debt, deficits, and rampant corruption, and the Left’s plan seems to center around the busting up of the last cultural, economic, and moral dams keeping the flood-waters of national depression at bay.

To all Conservatives, Libertarians, Republicans, and sensible moderates: STOP participating in the collectivist-inspired “Rain Dance” that liberals, Leftists, and progressives promise you has nothing to do with their insatiable ideological desire for growing the size, scope, power, and influence of the federal government!  It’s not merely “all about the children” to Nancy Pelosi and President Obama.  They believe true compassion is best facilitated via the IRS.

The problem throughout human history has not been that that bad people will do bad things, or that dumb people will do dumb things, but that good people, wise people, will sit idly by while Rome burns.  You can count on the enemies of the truth to fight for their side, but with almost the same degree of certainty you can count on those who are in fact on the side of truth to fail to appreciate the gravity of the truth they have graciously been given access to.

Such is the case of the modern Center-Right coalition of otherwise God-fearing, tax-paying, neighbor-waving Americans.

For at least two consecutive generations in this country, the would-be defenders of liberty, limited government, the republican (small “r”) synthesis of personal responsibility with civic duty, and Judeo-Christian values have ceded the historical, economic, and theological solid ground that is rightly theirs to stand on.  While activists on the Left read Saul Alinsky, made in-roads with inner city minorities, passed society-changing legislation, motivated young people to vote, and infiltrated every level of the media, entertainment industry, and education system, conservatives (especially religious ones) spent their time convincing themselves that their only duties were to make a good living, keep to themselves, and send their kids to Sunday School (unless Sunday School conflicted with soccer games, of course).

The time for such short-sighted, “stage one” thinking has come to an end…or the American “experiment” in republican democracy will.

It is inexpressibly praiseworthy to be a hardworking conservative who provides for his or her family.  And there is nothing I want more for Americans than for them to seek God out and attend weekly religious services.  But it is not enough.  Not if you care about the fate of your country.  Not if you care about the lives (and souls) being crushed by their enslavement to welfare entitlements.  Not if the taking of 50 million lives due to abortion matters to your conscience.  Not if you believe, as I do, that the health or sickness of a society rests squarely on the shoulders of the institution of marriage (and the subsequent family it logically produces).  Not if staggering, crushing debt left to your children’s children is as morally objectionable a thought to you as it is to me.

Not if the truth matters.

It is a frustratingly interesting thing to watch from the perspective of a white, suburban-living male in his 20’s as all of the parents and business owners and pastors and teachers and soccer moms around me talk about being “conservative” or believing in “traditional moral values” and then don’t even take the time to vote, or read one Wall Street Journal article per week, or investigate the ideology of political candidates, or peruse even small excerpts from massive pieces of legislation that will impact their lives forever if not repealed.

Again, I have nothing but the utmost respect for the dad and mom whose primary focus is appropriately centered on providing for their kids and doing unto others as they would have done to them.  I see men and women in my church, in my neighborhood, at the grocery store and bank who I would give anything to be like in terms of their character, ethics, and integrity.  But a depressing percentage of those same honorable Americans are almost entirely checked out from the cultural battles being won every day by people and ideologies that contradict nearly everything they say they believe in.dscn9178

The reasons for this are plentiful.  For some, they have convinced themselves that they are simply too busy and stressed to cross that threshold from an oblivious to an informed citizen.  Others are lazy, and so the thought of showing up to a town hall meeting to engage their elected representative on a boring topic like the fate of 300 million peoples’ health care is not even on their radar.  Still others have capitulated to their emotions (at the expense of their intellect and the facts) and have accepted what their liberal sociology professor said freshmen year of college about “Republicans hating change” and “Democrats loving poor people and the earth.”  This type of person knows they have conservative leanings in the areas of abortion and traditional marriage, but have not heard (or sought out) any fellow conservatives or conservative organizations that encompass a pro-life, pro-free markets stance with a serious passion for thoughtful environmental stewardship and for helping “the least among us.”

I believe that the main reason conservatives, a bloc of voters and taxpayers that is double the size of self-described liberal progressives (40 to 21%), have so many in their ranks who are disengaged and apathetic when it comes to social, political, and cultural issues is a pervasive lack of knowledge.  Simply put: people don’t know what is going on.

No one but God has all the answers, and there are no perfect candidates, and even a person who holds the right position on an issue can do the wrong thing in advancing their side’s cause, but none of those realities condone apathy, indifference, intellectual laziness, and the shirking of the duties a free citizen has had bestowed upon them by the countless millions who died to give them that freedom and opportunity.

November of 2010 can be the beginning of a new day for you personally, and the dawn of a new age of inquiry, debate, discourse, and participation for America and her blessed people.  You don’t have to lurk in the shadows of confusion and hearsay when it comes to the issues that matter to you any longer.  You don’t have to concede the moral debates that underpin those issues to liberals and progressives who win them for no other reason than that they have no one seriously opposing them on the Right.

You can put down the remote and pick up a Kindle.  You can trade your People subscription for a National Review one.  You can take your kids to a history museum instead of Lego Land.  You can send your nephew or granddaughter Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny instead of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps.  On your way to and from work, you can cruise the dial to hear thoughtful, creative dissemination of conservative values and principles from the likes of Michael Medved and Dennis Prager on the Salem Radio Network affiliate in your area instead of hunkering down on a Top 40 station for mindless lyrics set to sampled beats.

If you are a college or graduate student, come discover the booming world of conservative intellectual thought that is being led by groups like American Enterprise Institute, The Discovery Institute, The Heritage Foundation, and my personal favorite, The Acton Institute.  Acton has conferences and events throughout the year intentionally aimed at helping conservatives under the age of 30 interact with the intersection of faith, economics, politics, and the culture.

If you are an adult with a job and family who is unsure as to how best to get involved, the place to start is by equipping yourself with the information needed to make the case for your values.  Get a subscription to the Wall Street Journal.  On a weekly, if not daily, basis monitor sites like Drudereport.com, Townhall.com, Heritage.org, and Realclearpolitics.com.  Watch Charles Krauthammer and the Fox News All-Stars break down the top stories of the day each evening from 5:40-6:00pm (Central time).  Find out when the next town hall or school board meeting is taking place in your area and read up on the topic being discussed so you can participate.  If you are so inclined, attend a Tea Party rally this spring and summer.  Call your local elected officials and voice your opinion.  Pray for your country.

The Theology, History, and Economics of Mere Conservatism is a good place to start.

I realize that some will react to what I’ve said here today with a skeptical attitude.  They’ll think that what I’m proposing is that everyone should just read conservative blogs and listen to conservative talk radio and then everything will be fine.  They’ll tell themselves that it is people like R.J. Moeller who ratchet up the heated level of back-and-forth, partisan political bickering in this country.  They’ll attempt to reassure themselves that the best route is moderation (and by “moderation” they mean “doing nothing, but claiming to know the answers to everything come election time or political discussion around the Thanksgiving table”).

I close with my two rebuttals to such concerns.

First, while filling your mind with only one side of anything is never the best policy in life, who among you would argue that you’re unsure about what liberal Democrats think of things like the environment, abortion, welfare, or bigger government in general?  We’ve learned liberalism from liberals, but we’ve also learned conservatism from liberals.  The balance of the time you spend learning more about economics, politics, and cultural topics will need to be slightly shifted towards the Right (at least initially) to catch up on a lifetime of liberal indoctrination and persistent misrepresentations of what conservatives actually believe.

300px-Caravaggio-The_Conversion_on_the_Way_to_DamascusSecond, we need people to know what they are talking about before we can have a serious dialogue about the direction of our ideology (conservatism) and our nation (America).  You can’t prescribe a remedy when you aren’t sure of the medicinal options out there, or perhaps even of the sickness afflicting you, your ideology, or your nation.  We need to recognize where we agree (and why we agree on those things) before we can establish where we differ.  I want skeptics who generally agree with me to be welcomed into the conservative, Center-Right coalition for it will be their ideas, activism and instruction to their children that will either sink or save the United States.

The mid-term elections in November are roughly seven months away.  This summer could be your “Road to Damascus” moment when the veils of apathy, indifference, and misinformation are finally lifted from your mind and heart’s eyes.  Elections don’t fix America; Americans fix America.

But while elections cannot fix America, they absolutely can lead to the erosion of it.

Putting people into the highest reaches of power who have as a core tenet of their worldview the growth of their own power is contrary to the historical, legal, and philosophical underpinnings of the nation we love and cherish.  We do need to take our country back, but not for the GOP or Democrats or even Ralph Nader.  We need to take our country back for the ideas, ideals, and values it represents and the overwhelming majority of us believe in.

Who you vote for is the last step in a journey that begins with a realization that freedom isn’t free; that you cannot divorce what you love about your city, state, and country from your duty to them.

Go get involved.  You know you want to, and the rest of us need you to.

Comments (8) Trackbacks (0)
  1. What a staggeringly fantastic article you’ve penned here, RJ. Wow. Really. Wow. You are a delight, sir.

    You just expressed EVERYTHING I’ve been thinking for 15 years. I’m sending this to everyone I know.

  2. I found your site linked in the Comments section of Townhall.com. I’m happy that I did. Why aren’t you writing directly for them? This is just as good as anything they have over there.

    What can we really do to get people motivated and involved? Practically speaking. What can I do?

  3. Excellent article!

    Wars are won not necessarily by those who are good and just, but by those who are the most fiercely determined. To date, the Left in this country has been winning the war against America because of their relentlessness. It is high time for millions of Americans (read: NOT the Left) to become activists.

    I know of what I speak because I was born and raised in a leftist environment. It took years for me to have my “Damascus” moment. Thank God I did and I pray for millions more to wake up and take action to restore our Republic.

  4. RJ,
    I am with you in spirit. Your article is right on. However, the liberals are so subtle. For example, a few days ago Obama gave tacit approval for drilling offshore. I am sure many of us heard that story somewhere. Many of us might have thought, “Great–now perhaps the United States will start using it own resources as it should.” I have since heard that this “new” policy is only window dressing. It is actually for studying the environmental impacts especially for the states most involved. Congress still has to act on it. The headlines betray the fact that nothing will get done very soon if ever but Obama got some good PR out of the headlines. That is the subtle part–lots of promise, very little actual result in the real world when they really, really disagree with the whole notion of actually drilling. If people went beyond the headlines (as you suggest) and read the rest of the story then perhaps we would know what the actual truth is.
    rcf in Colorado

  5. That was an excellent article; everything I have known for some time now. This will go around in hopes to inspire those that don’t even know what they have lost so far because they have been unplugged for so long.

  6. You said everything I have tried to put into words to my liberal relatives (and disinterested conservative friends). Thanks!

  7. Wow…so well said…and very inspiring. . .

  8. When you are tired of the options out there, then it’s time to vote for yourself in the next election. Democrats too liberal for you? Republican‘s too moderate for you? Or do they all just speak in ‘forked tongues’(lie)?

    The political landscape of this country is outrageously corrupt. The more money a candidate has, the better his or her chances are of getting elected. Lobbyists, big corporations and donors have more influence over election results and legislation than any group of voters. I voted for myself and you can too at http://www.voteformyself.com

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What is “Mere Conservatism”?

The basic ideas, ideals, and values that generally define and characterize the central tenets of what today might be termed "modern conservative thought."

We believe that a proper understanding of history, economics, and theology leads to certain conclusions. Many of these are the same conclusions our Founding Fathers arrived at in constructing a "more perfect union."

All ideas and opinions are welcome; not all are correct.

Mere Conservatism Links:
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