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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Invariably, when there is a political post on Facebook from a prominent Christian leader, one or more people chime in with something like, "Bravo on your evenhandedness! God is not a member of one political party!" And everyone salutes themselves for their superior piety, especially over all those committed partisans, who are too passionate one way or the other to "get it." Well, you know what? Ideas have consequences. If one political party stands directly opposite to Christian morality, reason, and the common good, it's not my job to write glowing pieces about how it's all really OK. I don't promise to speak in measured tones about those things, as some Christian duty of misplaced civility. The bottom line is this: If the Democratic Party remains committed to abortion, the promotion of homosexuality, and the blurring of the line between Church and state, such that the Church doesn't really exist, and essentially the takeover of everything in American life, (especially the family) no Christian ought to vote for them.
I don't know where people got this idea that I'm some uncritical partisan. And, by the way, it's OK and reasonable to be committed passionately to the lesser things that party believes, too. God may not be a capitalist or an Austrian School economist, but if reason and experience convince us that certain ideas are manifestly better than others, it's our right to say so.
I've crossed party lines tons of times. I'm in agreement with so-called liberals on many things, like the death penalty, war, immigration, treaties, and the list goes on. But I have no instinct to find a middle position between two extremes, no instinct to be "moderate." Moderate is how people who don't know what they are talking about (or who don't care to inform themselves) define themselves.
All a candidate is required to do is convince people he's a good man (or woman) who will try to balance everyone's interests as best he can, to defend our inalienable rights above all, and work for the common good. "Mainstream" or "extreme" are just chattering-class words used to further those they want to help or hinder those they hate. You want to be mainstream? Win.
We do need to elevate the discourse in our nation, and I'd love to be a part of that. But it's not going to be an elevation of niceness or politeness; it will be an elevation of ideas. We need to stop deciding a priori which ideas and people are worth listening to and which are "extreme." As Christians, we need to be courageous enough to believe what we must, and to stand for it, even if it means that most of us vote for the same people. I don't believe--whatever the merits--climate change or rent control is more vital than the murder of human beings. It's also highly possible that you, unnamed progressive evangelical, do not understand the merits of the opposite positions, anyway. I know this because I've been accused of bad faith so many times, I lost count. You know, it really is possible to oppose affirmative action without being a racist, for example. You really can favor drastic cuts in social programs without being a poor-hating money-hoarder. Why? Because the opposite ideas don't work, or are unjust. Intending to do good does not automatically sanctify a policy choice. Nor does it make you morally superior to your opponents. Am I making you uncomfortable yet? I digress.
When I'm talking straight-up policy, I can sound very moderate. Because so many things require a laying out of the pros and cons of things, the competing goods, and so forth. But our poltics has completely obliterated the line between the theater of politics, and the hard work of policy and governance. On the one hand, the process rewards people for cheap slogans and even cheaper shots at your opponent. On the other, our gatekeepers will savage anyone who attempt to explain themselves. I should call myself the Nuanced Extremist.

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