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Craig Carter Interview: Final Installment

October 28th, 2010 | 5 min read

By Andrew Walker

Today is the last installment of Mere Orthodoxy's interview with Dr. Craig Carter. We hope you've enjoyed this series and will venture over to his blog. Personally speaking, Dr. Carter's blog represents the epitome of evangelical reflection upon the political and cultural sphere from a conservative orientation.

Check back at in the near future as it is our intention to unveil interviews like this one with various other cultural, political, and theological innovators.

MO: There’s been a lot of talk about young evangelicals no longer being Republican/Conservative.  Do you see concern about that within the Republican leadership?

CC: The old guard of the Republican Party is simultaneously thankful for and terrified of social conservatives in general and Evangelicals in particular. This old guard needs to be changed and the Tea Party is doing it.  The long term goal should be to move the political center a few degrees rightward and to make the Democratic Party utterly unelectable as long as it is dominated by the New Left as it is now.  In order for this to happen, the center of the Republican Party needs to be moved rightward and this means getting rid of some RINOs, which is now happening. (David Frum is a good example of such a RINO.)  Angelo Codevilla’s recent article and book entitled The Ruling Class is an analysis of the American voting public that has been confirmed by a number of polls and by Arthur Brooks in his recent book, The Battle.  Essentially, America is divided into two classes: The Country Class (70%) and the Ruling Class (30%).  The Country Class is strongest in “fly over country” and its institutional base is the Churches and the Military.  The Ruling Class is concentrated in the cities and on the coasts and its institutional base is the media and the universities.  The Republican Party needs to be convinced that it can have a permanent governing majority by ignoring the Ruling Class and concentrating on representing the Country Class.  If it does so, then the longer term cultural goal should be to make inroads into the universities and to continue to do what Fox already is doing in the media: being unabashedly conservative and thus winning the ratings war.  America need not slide into socialism and atheism; it is a center-right, mainly Christian country.  But will the Republican leadership be willing to risk not being invited to certain cocktail parties in Washington and New York?

MO: Do you have any favourite candidates for 2012?  Who and why?

CC: I think that Obama would love to run against Mitt Romney because Obamacare will be a big issue and Romney introduced a health care plan as governor of Massachusetts that it similar enough to Obamacare that Obama could tie Romney up in knots on it.  So scratch him off the list.

Mike Huckabee is a good guy but I wish he had run for the Senate against Blanche Lincoln.  (It might have been the first 100% to zero win in history!)  But I don’t see him as “presidential timber.”

Tim Pawlenty is a fine man and stands for a lot of good things.  Charisma is not his strong suit, however, and I’m not sure he can light a fire under the Tea Party folks.  If he had the right VP nominee, however, it might work. He would need Palin or Rubio to bring out the conservative vote and such a possibility should not be ruled out.

I really like a lot of what Newt Gingrich says although his personal life makes me queasy.  I’m not sure he can win the nomination although I think he would beat Obama if he did.

Mitch Daniels shot himself in the foot with his ill-conceived comments about a truce on social issues.  What basis does he have for thinking the other side would observe any kind of truce?  I think he is a good governor but he would have to do a lot of talking to convince the social conservatives now.

Rich Santorum is a good possibility.  He has integrity, good policy positions and experience.  I like him a lot.

Paul Ryan is probably more suited to chairing the crucial House Budget Committee in the next Congress but is a possibility for next time around or for the VP slot if a charismatic top of the ticket person needs a policy wonk to balance it out (like Palin for instance).

Marco Rubio would make a terrific vice presidential nominee or a strong possibility for next time.  But I wouldn’t rule him out for this time either.  He has sincerity, principles and a compelling personal story.  Being the son of immigrants doesn’t hurt and he is not starry-eyed about socialism.

Chris Christie in New Jersey is a terrific governor and is doing exactly what needs to be done in states like NJ, NY, CA, IL and the list goes on.  I think 2012 is too soon for him, but he is young.  He is a YouTube superstar.

Sarah Palin is a major player in this election cycle; she may not be the nominee although I would not rule it out yet.  Even if she is not the nominee, her endorsement may be crucial for whoever is (eg. Rubio or Santorum or someone else).

I think the eventual nominee may not be on the radar yet.  But if I had to vote today, I’d go for Palin/Ryan or Santorum/Rubio.  I think there are a half dozen candidates who could defeat Obama; the challenge is to find one who would be able to inspire the Tea Party movement, unify conservatives and move the whole country in a more conservative direction.

MO: Would you be willing to share any thoughts you may have regarding the proposed mosque being built near Ground Zero?

CC: I’m against it.  I wondered if my views were too extreme, so I looked up a friend who was born in Egypt, speaks Arabic, has degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Northwestern University.  He teaches missions and is involved in missionary outreach in the Arab world.  I said to him that I thought the GZM is deliberately provocative and would be understood in the Muslim world as a symbol of a great Islamic victory.  I said that I believed that the Imam behind it was no moderate and that the liberal media were not facing reality.  Then I asked him if he thought my views were too extreme.   To my surprise he agreed completely and was even more strongly opposed than I am (if that is possible).  The liberal media is following the intellectual class in Europe which is blindly leading that continent to either civil war or Islamic domination and maybe both.

CC: As a Christian, why not Marx?

MO: Well, none of Marx’s major predictions have come true.  His major doctrines contradict core doctrines of Christianity.  And everywhere Marxist ideas have been implemented so far the results have been tyranny, increased poverty and the increase of atheism.  I fail to see anything Christians can learn from Marx and I consider his ideas to be the most dangerous alternative to Christianity in the Western world.

Andrew Walker

Andrew T. Walker is an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.