“Vote conservative: At least we’re not the other guy!” How many times have we seen political campaigns that don’t amount to much more than hurling slogans to this effect? It isn’t so much about winning with good arguments as it is ensuring the other team loses. While it’s important to highlight the damaging consequences of bad politicians peddling bad politics, when this approach becomes the sole drawcard, chances are, it’s only because there’s no substantive alternative on offer. At least, nothing that could win an election on its own merit.
As the Progressive Left ventures further and further from reality, it’s a tactic we’re too often tempted to use. “At least we’re not absolutely insane” would seem like the safest course to secure a place for anyone not involved in the current global clown show we’ve been forced to endure. A day rarely passes without our present ringmasters offering up more self-damning material than we could tweet about, and to such a degree that one would be forgiven for wondering if elections still mattered.
But surely, we have more to offer than our basic sanity and that ever-fading quality formerly known as “common sense.” Surely, a robust and coherent alternative to Progressive madness isn’t too much to ask for, right? Yet, we’re all too eager to settle for so much less because hey, at least it’s not the other guy.
That is, at least until the other guy gets back in, as they inevitably do. It’s that political pendulum, seemingly destined to oscillate forever, with every swing more extreme than the one before. One generation rebels against their respectable, conservative mother and father, until the next generation rebels against their non-binary, birthing parents.
And what ground do we gain in the end? The chasm between “us and them” only appears to be increasing, and that, at an alarming rate. In less than a decade, what started as “Stay out of our bedrooms” became a full-blown invasion into children’s entertainment, government schools, and public libraries. Not only is this cultural shift showing little sign of easing up, but our so-called conservative leaders appear powerless even to slow it down.
When any change eventually comes, it will only be due to the pendulum reaching its maximum height, at least for now. The next swing, naturally, will be even more extreme, and conservatives, likely just as impotent to halt the trajectory. That is, unless the conservative movement can take a step back, and begin the much-needed process of self-examination. Why have we lost so much ground in such a short period of time?
C.S. Lewis once said, if we find ourselves on the wrong track, the man who turns back first is nearest to the place he wants to be. At present, there are many so-called conservatives on the wrong road, and as such, they’re heading in a direction that will only secure failure. But we weren’t forced off course, the conservative movement was largely sabotaged from within. Consequently, conservatives now find themselves compelled to contend with Progressives on Progressive turf, according to Progressive rules, which can be summed up in one: Conservatives lose, whatever it takes, and to hell with the rules.
So, how did we get here? Where was that wrong turn? In short, conservatives cut the branch they were sitting on. Perhaps it was moral compromise, or maybe a fear of being called “bad names,” such as “intolerant” or “religious bigot,” but one fundamental aspect of debate was forfeited under the guise of “pluralism” and “moral relativism.”
Any meaningful basis for absolute moral truth was abandoned. Conservatism, in many circles, became distinctively non-Christian. In short, the movement has embraced relativism and rejected Christ for a castrated substitute: secular conservatism. Many so-called conservatives now boast of being “socially progressive” on matters such as abortion, LGBTQ issues, pornography, drugs, and surrogacy. As such, conservatives reduced themselves to relativists with a mild dose of nostalgia.
Is it any wonder so-called conservatives seemingly only ever gain ground by virtue of the chaos inflicted by our political opponents? What substance do we have to bring to the debate? When you forfeit the only basis you have for calling anything objectively wrong, anything objectively harmful, anything objectively bad, you disqualify yourself from any meaningful moral debate, and ultimately undermine your cause. You can’t banish God from politics and then cry foul when politicians trample on your God-given, inalienable rights. After all, what are God-given rights if there is no giving-God worth acknowledging?
Progressives get it. Christless conservatives are still catching up. If human rights, basic justice, and moral concepts such as “good” and “bad” are not derived from God, then they’ll be defined and bestowed on us by the state, by the majority, or by the privileged few. Unbeknownst to Christless conservatives, truth, if not grounded in Christ, is now whatever the ruling class dictates. What is good for society can now only be subjectively defined, and just as easily dismissed.
Secular conservatives are yet to fully appreciate this fact, but this is why both sides so often speak past each other. The conservative shouts, “Facts don’t care about your feelings,” while the progressive retorts, “Feelings don’t care about your facts!” But it is the Progressive, at this point, who’s acting consistent with his professed worldview, not the secular conservative. If there is no God, then all we can really be sure about is how we feel at any given moment. As such, it’s not reality that dictates truth, it’s our own subjective experiences.
This is why uttering basic, self-evident, biological facts, such as, “Only women have a cervix,” can cost a biomedical scientist his career. It doesn’t matter what biological realities exist. If relativism is the religion of the day, embraced by both the Left and the Right and everything in between, then truth is relative and subject to each individual’s experiences. Who are you to say otherwise? Without God to appeal to, you’re only arguing from your experiences too. And without a standard outside of our own minds, how can anything be meaningfully measured as more or less good, true, or accurate?
What we’re left with is an impotent form of conservatism that appeals to absolute truths which are entirely incompatible with the godless platform. Secular, Christless conservatism is a failure. It’s not enough, because it endeavours to compete on incompatible ground. Clever arguments might gain us an applause from our own team and a viral video to boot, but they clearly mean nothing to those who are playing by an entirely different set of rules. And Progressives are! In fact, they’re playing an entirely different ball game. That’s why all the facts in the world won’t change their minds.
So, while secular conservative commentators might be exceptional at identifying cultural problems and owning “Libtards,” until they’re prepared to delve deep enough to examine the root cause of our social ills, they’ll forever find themselves to be rotten trees attempting to trim rotten fruit from other rotten trees.
Bad and harmful ideas don’t emerge in a vacuum. They all grow from a set of wrong assumptions about God, reality, and the nature of the universe. But these assumptions are rarely, if ever, challenged by Christless conservatives because that would first require self-examination. You can’t confront somebody else’s presuppositions until you’re willing to identify your own. And you cannot identify your own presuppositions without confronting the fact that you’re not living consistent with what God requires.
This is why secular conservatism is so easy to embrace. It demands of its adherence, just as little as it’s able to achieve. At least, in a lasting, positive and constructive sense. It will ultimately achieve something, but it won’t be good, and it will be the fault of Christless conservatives when it does. You cannot embrace what C.S. Lewis warned would, “certainly end our species and damn our souls,” and think to get off unscathed.
Author and professor, Peter Kreeft, similarly described the issue of moral relativism as “the single most important issue of our age.” This is because, he noted, “no society in all human history has ever survived without rejecting [moral relativism].”
“Our society,” he said, “will do one of three things: (1) either disprove one of the most universally established laws of all history; (2) repent of its relativism and survive; or (3) persist in its relativism and perish.”
Until we embrace Christ as the basis of truth, justice, and goodness, we’ll find ourselves building on a foundation of ever-shifting sand. Christ, not a mere form of conservatism, is the answer to all of our social and political ills. It’s not conservatism or chaos. It’s Christ or chaos, as the failures of Christless conservatism have repeatedly demonstrated. Unfortunately, human nature is such that often only chaos will teach us this lesson. We can only pray this time that’s not the case.