My friend Mark Tooley treats the evangelical left’s response to the Tea Party as a sign their influence is fading:

The current economy and political climate, of which the Tea Party is a symptom, may have neutralized whatever gains Wallis’s brand of statism had achieved among younger evangelicals. Evangelical Left elites want to emphasize Global Warming regulation and government health care, while most evangelicals almost certainly share Tea Party distress about too much government. Wallis’s alarms over the Tea Party, and evangelical support for it, may reveal his own political intuition that the Evangelical Left’s moment has receded.

I try to remain skeptical of the prevailing narrative about the leftward shift of younger evangelicals, if only because I am still quite happily conservative and I like to think I have a few friends.

But also because while there has been a leftward tilt among young evangelicals, a sizable minority who didn’t vote for Obama or Huckabee were drawn to the Ron Paul campaign in 2008, who made libertarianism cool before the Tea Parties arrived.

If anything, I suspect that Tea Parties have hurt the libertarian image with younger evangelicals because of its populist bent, and because they’re just not ironic enough. Most college-educated younger evangelicals would have been more inclined to watch the Stewart/Colbert rally than the Beck rally.  (And for that matter, so would I.  Too bad it was terrible.)

Here’s my hypothesis as to why young evangelicals tend to be drawn toward Randian libertarianism or Obama-style pragmatic liberalism:  we think of ourselves as elites, even though most of us aren’t.  This is particularly true of white, college-educated younger evangelicals who went off to Wheaton and Biola, and who are the only young evangelicals the media ever seems to talk about.

Our dissatisfaction with the mainstream evangelical populism we grew up in makes us particularly susceptible to either top-down statism or ubermensch libertarianism. Obama or Ron Paul, Jim Wallis or Ayn Rand. Both appeal to our elite aspirations, as in the former we can politically engineer society to bring about the Kingdom and in the latter we get to be captains of industry.

A conservatism that takes its cues from the reality of original sin would reject both these options, but since ‘sin’ is itself suspicious nomenclature that we prefer to reserve for others, there is little room for this sort of conservatism in the younger evangelical world.

All this by way of exploratory hypothesis.  Either way,  I think Mark’s suggestion that the Tea Party ascendancy has moved the dial among young evangelicals is a bit premature.  I haven’t been able to find exit polling about how young evangelicals voted this time around,  but given that we tend to vote closer to young non-evangelicals than our parents (a fact that is worth reflecting more about), I suspect the gains among Republicans were minimal.

Update: If you’re coming from JT’s blog, thanks for dropping by.  I am always open to critique and happy to clarify what I am saying, and what I’m not.  There’s lots more on this topic in the archives, and I’d encourage you to subscribe by RSS.

Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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  • Matthew,
    This is an intriguing assessment, and I’m inclined to agree with you about the elitism of the millenial generation. I also agree with your assessment of a view of original sin affecting one’s conservatism.

    I’m 27, a younger evangelical, and am a social conservative. After meandering around some populism/statism in college, and then some neo-conservativism with liberal tendencies in seminary, I’ve now decided that I’m just a plain old social conservative. It’s boring, but it’s my views. My sense of “boredom” is probably the thing that makes younger evangelicals make different political decisions than the standard religious right. There’s more novelty about Ron Paul or Barack Obama, after all.

    And for what it’s worth, the book that cinched the solidifying of my political views was an old Herbert Schlossberg book called “Idols for Destruction” written in the early 80s. It’s a penetrating and scholarly Christian analysis of how we’ve codified sin in our culture and government.

    • David,

      Idols for Destruction is a most remarkable work. I,too, consider it the defining book in my political socialization. I’m glad to see others influenced by it. It is indeed an oldie, and unfortunately it hasn’t had the influence it deserves.

  • Dave,

    Thanks for the kind words, adn the book reference. I’ve added it to the wish list.

    Our intellectual paths are pretty similar. I didn’t flirt with statism, but I have defended (gasp!) neo-conservatism in the past. That fact alone makes me anathema in some circles. : )

    matt

  • Barry

    Matthew,

    I appreciate your thoughts on this. I’m 24 and a grad student in Seattle, Washington. I recognize a lot of what you say in myself and in other students of my age.

    My question for you is what do you think causes young evangelicals to be dissatisfied with mainstream evangelical politics? I consider myself to be among the dissatisfied so I’m interested to hear what you think drew us away in the first place. Because this seems to be a trend not only in politics but in the church. The church can’t seem to keep the college age crowd around.

    • Barry,

      Thanks for the kind words. I am a Western Washington guy myself. Heading up to Redmond for Thanksgiving, in fact!

      I think the problems of dissatisfaction are very, very real. I’m a young guy myself, and have felt them deeply (both theologically and politically). In fact, a lot of my writing the past five or six years has been working through some of these issues.

      That said, I think a lot of the dissatisfaction about evangelical politics has to do with the tone more than the substance. Populist movements in media-saturated worlds will have entertainers as their leaders, and that inevitably cheapens discourse. So we all go off to college, start listening more closely, and then get frustrated because we start thinking there aren’t any good reasons for the positions that the political entertainers are espousing.

      As for leaving the church….I’d say something similar: a lack of depth and substance. It’s really a problem we’re working on reversing around here, but are definitely swimming upstream.

      That’s my $.02. What’s your take? I’m really curious to know what you’ve observed.

      –matt

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  • I came here from JT’s blog, where I commented as well. I’m really confused about how you’ve reached these conclusions. How is it that you’ve equated a fringe political movement (libertarianism) as elitist? How can a marginal political position be elitist? Admittedly, Ron Paul seems to be more en vogue than a few years ago, but agreeing with his political philosophy can hardly be called elitist.

    Secondly, I cannot fathom how Ron Paul’s libertarianism can fairly be branded “ubermensch libertarianism.” How familiar are you with Paul’s political beliefs? As one who has read and heard much of Paul, I would argue, as he would, that he is essentially Jeffersonian. His political philosophy is the heritage of our founders. To label that as “ubermensch libertarianism” is not only unfair, but revisionist history. It is one thing to dismiss his philosophy as outmoded, naive, or obsolete. It is another to dismiss it as essentially extremist–a dangerous dismissal of a valid philosophy.

    You wrote, “A conservatism that takes its cues from the reality of original sin would reject both these options.” Yet I cannot but shake my head in disbelief that one who “takes its cues from the reality of original sin” would so readily dismiss a political philosophy that at its core entrusts only limited power to a broad number of individuals across competitive interests.

    I’m completely befuddled. I hope I’ve somehow misunderstood what you wrote.

  • John,

    Thanks for the comment. I saw that at JT’s blog, and I appreciated it. At the same time, I didn’t want to monopolize his comments by responding to everyone’s critiques, so I kept quiet. I appreciate you bringing it over here.

    That said, I don’t think that the libertarian movement is “elitist” in the sense that its adherents are currently elites. I think it’s “elitist” in the sense that it appeals to elitist ambitions.

    We can have a debate over the merits of Ron Paul’s political positions, but I was mostly using him as an example of someone whom libertarians gravitate toward. And that seems indisputable. Outside of social issues (namely, abortion), he’s remarkably consistent with the Libertarian Party.

    But I would also say this: where in the above did I dismiss his philosophy as “outmoded, naive, or obselete”? That seems like a mischaracterization of what I’ve written here.

    Best,

    matt

    • Matt,

      Thanks for the response. To begin, the comment about “outmoded, naive, or obsolete” was simply meant to represent the way Paul is typically dismissed. It was in no way meant to be representative of your views. I meant this as a contrast between those that dismiss him that way, and the way you seem to dismiss him as–an extremist.

      Naturally libertarians will gravitate toward Paul–he’s essentially their sole voice in American government. He’s also an articulate spokesman for many of their beliefs and convictions.

      I still don’t understand your connection between libertarianism and elitism or ‘elitist ambitions.’ It seems to me that any political philosophy is prone to ‘elitist ambitions’.

      I don’t mean to defend libertarianism here either. I don’t consider myself a libertarian, but I do greatly admire Ron Paul and the positions he takes. I believe firmly in a third way, as argued by Herbert Schlossberg in “Idols for Destruction.”

      • Wow, the same book recommended twice in one comment thread. Apparently, I’ve got to read this! : )

        That said, the libertarian position seems to hinge upon the notion that the individual not only knows best about his own flourishing, but knows better than everyone else around him who might disagree with him. In one sense, it’s an anti-democratic position because the libertarian doesn’t care what the majority thinks about any given issue.

        Does that help at all?

        matt

        • Matt,

          Yes, your elaboration helps complete your argument. Classifying libertarians thusly can only find traction against a biblically uninformed libertarianism.

          Christians, sympathetic to libertarianism, don’t support libertarian positions because they know best, they do so because the state does not. This is a Hayekian argument against central planning. Central planners, centralized government cannot possible know enough to wield the arm of government justly with the sort of authority they seek. Those with an interest will know best–not those only seeking authority.

          This isn’t an argument against government–but an argument against government that demands too much–the authority only God can wield. Consistent, biblical “libertarians” want limited, local government.

          Back to your point about young evangelicals and elitism. I still don’t see the evidence for your claims. Where are these elitist libertarians?

          • Again, John, I distinguished between actual elites and those who think themselves to be elites. It’s not just libertarians, too. If we could define elitism by a negation, as in something like “anti-populism,” then I’d say they are all over young evangelicalism.

  • Keith Miller

    Matthew,

    Elitism is certainly a major factor. You’re right on the money there.

    But the less-conservative younger evangelicals I know actually have robust views of sin. And they certainly don’t just reserve that term for stuff other people do. In fact, they are eager to tell unbelievers that “I’m a sinner just like you. I’m probably a worse sinner because I’m like the older brother who’s too self righteous and you are an authentic sinner like the younger brother.”

    Operating out of this high view of sin, they believe that “legislating their morality” would earn them the dread title Hypocrite. Thus, they gravitate to “less judgmental” political philosophies like liberalism and libertarianism.

    • Keith, that’s a good distinction. I should have said that we don’t like calling things sin in public, or saying anything that other people do is sin. Judge not, so on and so forth.

  • Joe

    I do not think that the followers of Ron Paul libertarian movement can be classified as “elitist”. The movement is about a return to constitutional principles and a return to local governance.

    The Ron Paul movement is about:

    “Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.” —-Ronald Reagan

  • Joe

    Just one other note:

    Matt said: “In one sense, it’s (libertarianism) an anti-democratic position because the libertarian doesn’t care what the majority thinks about any given issue.”

    The United States was founded as a constitutional republic, not a pure democracy. The founders felt that the rule of “the majority” (through a pure democracy) was just as much of a tyranny as rule by a king. A constitutional republic, such as the United States, protects the minority from rule by the majority, so in that sense, the U.S. constitution and libertarianism is anti-democratic.

    • Yay for the democratic republic. I wasn’t suggesting anything to the contrary, or that I am a fan of a pure democracy. Republic Book 9.

      matt

  • Scott

    Generalize much?

    • Well, yes, when I’m trying to offer explanatory hypotheses that I acknowledge twice are only hypotheses. Is that wrong?

      matt

  • tony

    “That said, the libertarian position seems to hinge upon the notion that the individual not only knows best about his own flourishing, but knows better than everyone else around him who might disagree with him.”

    I think that the problem with your argument about libertarianism being elite or that it does not fully grasp original sin is that your understanding of libertarianism is wrong (or else, misstated). Libertarianism does not hinge on the notion that the individual knows best but that he should have the diginity and freedom to choose for himself (for better or worse). Many libertarians believe that drugs should be legalized not becuase the choice to use drugs might be “what’s best” for an individual but that it is immoral to us the threat of violence (and in some cases violence itself) to force my personal preferances on another.

    It also seems rather haughty to claim that everyone who disagrees with you (either to the right or the left) does so because of elitism. Another possiblity is that they have examined the arguments and due to their own priorities and convictions landed somewhere different from you… but I guess elitism works too.

    • I’m game to have the conversation about what is and isn’t libertarianism, and whether it has elitist underpinnings and sympathies. However, I’ll start by simply pointing out that I nowhere claimed that “everyone who disagrees with you (either to the right or the left) does so because of elitism.” I’d encourage you to read the argument a little more closely. Additionally, you presume that I think being an elite is a negative thing. As I said in the comments at JT’s blog, I don’t. Yay for elites. Christians need more of ’em.

      matt

      • fred

        So let me get this straight….

        You say ” young evangelicals tend to be drawn toward Randian libertarianism or Obama-style pragmatic liberalism: we think of ourselves as elites” and because of our elitism it “makes us particularly susceptible to either top-down statism or ubermensch libertarianism. Obama or Ron Paul, Jim Wallis or Ayn Rand. Both appeal to our elite aspirations, as in the former we can politically engineer society to bring about the Kingdom and in the latter we get to be captains of industry.” Then you say “Yay for elites. Christians need more of ‘em”

        If I read your position correctly, then you are advocating for only elite conservatives, because conservatism ” takes its cues from the reality of original sin would reject both these options” (libertarianism and liberalism). Therefore if our political philosophy is “Randian libertarianism or Obama-style pragmatic liberalism” then we have fallen into temptation to what you deem elites are susceptible to. To state clearly:

        Conservative Elites = GOOD
        Libertarian Elite = BAD
        Liberal Elite = BAD

        Personally I reject the idea of “elites” and especially the idea we need more Christian elites. A very large part of Ron Paul’s popularity was his populist rhetoric and the idea that both Republican and Democratic party were filled with elites who did not care for the common man.

        • Fred,

          Yeah, that’s a pretty good summary. To put it in more pithy fashion, I want elites without elitism. And I think conservatism (and I should say I have a pretty narrow meaning in mind when I say that) is the best political option.

          Thanks for reading.

          Best,

          matt

  • Russ

    I think you’ve lumped together different impulses.

    Randian libertarianism is inherently elitist, so I think you’re on the money there. But Ron Paul is more populist. One of his central issues was opposition to America’s current wars, which put him at odds with both mainstream Republicans and Democrats.

    On liberals… well, I guess it’s a better explanation than saying liberals just hate America, but the “liberal elite” stereotype is questionable. Just look at the disparity between Republican and Democratic election spending in the last election, with millions coming in from conservatives to fund the Chamber of Commerce, the laughably named Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, and Americans for Prosperity. Even much of the Tea Parties were funded heavily by billionaires like the Koch brothers. Conservatism may celebrate low-brow pop culture, but economically and politically it’s where the money and power is.

    It’s worth asking, rather than just assuming it’s the norm, why older evangelicals support conservatives. Historically and internationally, that hasn’t been the case. in _What’s Wrong with Kansas_, Thomas Frank wondered why social conservatives are willing again and again to put Republicans politicians in power who again and again do nothing on their promises to enact socially conservative legislation while setting policies that favor the rich and allow a continued decline for the middle class.

    It’s also worth noting that taking original sin seriously put someone like Reinhold Niebuhr far to the left of someone like Obama. If the love of money is the root of all evil, who should we be more wary of – big government, or megacoprorations?

    • Russ,

      Yeah, that distinction is one that I’m starting to wish I would have thought through a little more carefully so I would have avoided the wrath of the Ron Paul supporters. : )

      That said, I’m not convinced that Republican financial policies are as destructive as Frank thinks, but I also think the relationship between Repubs/evangelicals is a lot more tenuous than most folks think. That’s a relationship that we’ve watched carefully here at Mere-O the last six years, so the archives are full of thoughts about that. I’m well aware that we haven’t always leaned Republican (Jimmy Carter, anyone?) but a lot has gone on in the Democratic party to make it far less hospitable to us than it was 30 years ago (esp. on abortion).

      I’m open to something like a Teddy Roosevelt, corporation smashing conservatism. I voted and supported, after all, Mike Huckabee, who is probably the closest heir of this sort of conservatism in the party.

      matt

  • Came here from JT”s blog as well.

    You are dead on about the Statism of the Left, particularly with Jim Wallis and those that agree with him. The Religious Left is making a religion out of the State and seeking to give it ultimate power over every aspect of our lives. They appeal to “social justice” in order to guilt us into supporting the increasing power of government over our lives. This will ultimately enable the State to replace the Church and then turn on the Church. I suggest we look toward Jesus’ call to love another, love for the brethren as a political guide.

    http://www.bluecollarphilosophy.com/2010/10/revolutionary-politics-of-jesus-love.html

    If we do, hopefully we will see that Christians cannot align themselves like Wallis the Left since they are helping create an intense bias against Christianity by propagating sins clearly condemned in the Bible.

    It amazes me that Christians are actually concerned about how the world perceives them and that we are seen for what we are against. Jesus said we would be hated by the world and persecuted for preaching the Gospel and standing for righteousness. Christians should stand in the gap for the holiness of God, for the holiness of their brethren, for the unborn, for marriage, for the truth, for the Gospel. As we do that, the world will hate us and say we are just “against” this or that. Remember, friendship with the world is enmity against God.

  • Mark

    >> I’m open to something like a Teddy Roosevelt, corporation smashing conservatism. I voted and supported, after all, Mike Huckabee, who is probably the closest heir of this sort of conservatism in the party.

    TR was a Progressive, a very different thing from modern conservatism. I think the term conservative loses coherency before the 60’s. Conservative meant white slaveholder class or sympathizer of certain parts of the project for much of the nations history, so it pays to be precise. Of course precious few mean that anymore, but on the other hand I think sometimes our liberal friends may.

    Not sure what’s so great about corporation smashing. Or is this an example of young evangelical irony at work?

  • Mark

    >> Thomas Frank … wondered why social conservatives are willing again and again to put Republicans politicians in power who again and again do nothing on their promises to enact socially conservative legislation while setting policies that favor the rich and allow a continued decline for the middle class.

    And I wonder again at those who don’t grasp that it isn’t irrational to support a party that does as you wish say … 1 out of 4 times over against a party that does as you wish 1 out of 20 times. I wonder at those who can’t grasp this simple fact. We can bemoan the fact that the group closest to our views doesn’t do as we wish every time, but it is totally irrational to question the judgement of those who do the math most and support those most likely to pursue their agenda, however imperfectly. The logic of conservatives supporting the most conservative party, however imperfect, is flawless as a child of four can see.

    The wonder is why anyone questions it. But maybe guys like Frank are just feigning incomprehension as part of a moral equivalency project to pry people away from conservatives? I don’t know who he is but if the above statement is true he seems rather dull.

  • I linked to this today. I’m the father of a few young evangelicals, and let me assure you, this applies to old evangelicals as well.

  • WenatcheeTheHatchet

    I have been coming to the conclusion for years that the reason we’re seeing younger evangelicals move more toward libertarianism is because there has become a tension between social conservatism and fiscal conservatism in the last twenty years. The beginnings of this rift go at least as far back as Reagan and are probably best exemplified as the gap between the neo-conservative take on the war on terror and Ron Paul’s take on it and the legal consequences and implications of actions within that context. Evangelicals who have seen Roe vs Wade remain the legal precedent can look at what would be involved in repealing that ruling and realize, rightly, that the very nature of repealing Roe vs Wade as the legal precedent on abortion would involve the very judicial activism that social conservatives said got us there to begin with. If the problem was judicial activism then attempting to win a political/legal battle for the sake of social conservative causes could only be won at the expense of playing the game the way activist judges played it. We would lose by winning. The fiscal conservative/libertarian approach might seem less effective but that very flaw would arguably end up being the core strength of the idea, that by limiting what government can and does do that conservatives could get closer to what they want. Abortion might never stop being legal but at least by removing any state funding for it it would be reduced.

    The most emblematic tension that highlights the clash between the social and fiscal conservative may come about in the application of “negative rights” rhetoric. If a staunch negative rights position is implemented we must recognize that if there is no positive right to life then abortion must remain legal for generations. The would-be mother who is a citizen has the negative right to not have the state prevent her from aborting her unborn child while the unborn child is not even yet a citizen to have any negative rights defended by the state (i.e. to not be killed). Now unless conservatives argue that non-citizens have negative rights that are obliged to be upheld by the state abortion will be sewn up by the liberal position that abortion is a negative right. Of course the problem inherent in that approach is that if non-citizens have negative rights to be defended by the state what’s good for the unborn citizen goose would have to be applied to the illegal immigrant gander. This would be another reason fiscal conservatism may make more sense to younger evangelicals than social conservatism. It may be wiser to ensure the government does not finance abortion than to deal with the legal ramifications of repealing Roe vs Wade. It’s no irony in history that the teen culture that many of us have seen as problematic was the unintended consequence of a combination of child labor laws and compulsory education that weren’t actually enforced until the Depression. The potential danger of a judicial over-ruling of Roe vs Wade may, two generations from now, be far more dangerous than merely cutting off public funding for abortion as a matter of fiscal conservatism. Sorry to ramble but I have seen the rift between the social and fiscal conservative flare up among friends and family a lot over the last ten years so it seems pertinent to this discussion.

  • Mark

    >> “Evangelicals who have seen Roe vs Wade remain the legal precedent can look at what would be involved in repealing that ruling and realize, rightly, that the very nature of repealing Roe vs Wade as the legal precedent on abortion would involve the very judicial activism that social conservatives said got us there to begin with … We would lose by winning.”

    That doesn’t follow. Was reversing the Dred Scott decision “judicial activism”?

    >> “… we must recognize that if there is no positive right to life then abortion must remain legal for generations.”

    If there is no positive right to life we’re all screwed my friend. First they came for the unborn … and they aren’t done yet. Apparently you aren’t reading any bioethics journals or watching Sunday morning TV

    >> “if non-citizens have negative rights to be defended by the state what’s good for the unborn citizen goose would have to be applied to the illegal immigrant gander.”

    This is the lamest and most frightening argument I can recall hearing. I’ve got news. Many of our laws apply to non-citizens, and this is not in dispute. Read the Constitution again. And the Declaration of Independence is the natural law basis for the Constitution, and it stands together with the Constitution, and necessarily so. Do you really suppose anyone thinks they can murder non-citizens and our founding documents have nothing to say about this? This is horrifically bad thinking.

    And the wailing over “riffs” between political groups is unavoidable and there has never been a time in US history, or history of any nation, where it was different. I think you can live with the “rift between the social and fiscal conservative flare up among friends and family” without sacrificing innocent lives to death so you can feel good. I don’t want to be rude, but man this is about the scariest line of argument I think I’ve ever heard.

  • WenatcheeTheHatchet

    Do we disagree that the Reconstruction amendments that effectively reversed the Dredd Scott ruling (as the Court itself later noted) were not judicial activism?

  • WenatcheeTheHatchet

    Mark, are you sure your rhetorical question about Dredd Scott was a rebuttal to my point and not a proof for it? As the book of Esther shows us, there are some legal decisions which do not and can not be literally rescinded but new legal precedents can be established that change the weight of the prior precedent. If we saw how this played out in the issue of slavery and race why should we suppose that the solution with respect to abortion would ever be the judicial fiat that made abortion legal to begin with? You’ve practically made my point for me about this issue. Gutting the effect of Roe vs Wade through Congressional acts is what conservatives have been working to do to the chagrin of liberals and that’s the only Constitutionally safe way to do it. A reversal of judicial fiat by another judicial fiat would be the worst possible solution to Roe vs Wade anyone could hope for. It would give an unelected branch of government the capacity to make decisions without any check or balance from the other two branches. I don’t think any actual, thinking, serious conservative could condone that approach.

  • Mark

    >> Do we disagree that the Reconstruction amendments that effectively reversed the Dredd Scott ruling (as the Court itself later noted) were not judicial activism?

    Constitutional amendments are by definition not judicial acts. Do you disagree?

  • Mark

    >> Mark, are you sure your rhetorical question about Dredd Scott was a rebuttal to my point and not a proof for it?

    You seem not to distinguish between judicial fiat and legitimate scope of court action. You seem to think that reversing an act of judicial fiat must itself be judicial fiat because of this fact. This doesn’t follow.

    But in the case of Dred Scott, the decision was well within the scope of court action. It wasn’t judicial fiat, but a bad decision. It was within their scope to decide. Roe v Wade was an act of judicial fiat. It discovered rights that didn’t exist, and even admitted it wasn’t present in the Constitution but they found a “penumbra” of implied rights that implied a right to kill the unborn. Do you know what a “penumbra” is as it applies to law? No one else does either.

  • Mark

    WenatcheeTheHatchet: I’m sorry I misread “disagree” above. Yes we agree that 13th amendment was not judicial activism. But I’ve never advocated judicial activism, and I’m persuaded you’re speaking equivocallly when you’ve used the term “judicial activism” in this thread.

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  • WenatcheeTheHatchet

    I see the problem of a judicial reversal of Roe as inherently problematic because the judicial branch is not elected. It’s the least democratic method of reversing Roe vs Wade and that social conservatives would pin any heavy weight on stacking the Supreme Court to the end of reversing the judicial ruling shows that that impulse is fundamentally not democratic. It’s not for nothing liberals see that approach to repealing Roe vs Wade as what they would call judicial fiat going the other way. It’s better to let a judicial error get addressed by Congress so that checks and balances can have their place, isn’t it? Roe could very well be the big end of a wedge whose thin edge was really begun all the way back when FDR was trying to stack the Supreme Court with judges who favored his policies. Social conservatives seem loathe to admit that the best path to getting what they want is the least democratic. In this respect I sort of get what Matthew was saying about elitism. The appeal the libertarian wing may have to younger evangelicals is that it “may” be closer to re-establishing the limited power of government that Republicans have failed to pull off over the last twenty years. If the cost ends up being less socially conservative government in exchange for more limited power perhaps that is what younger evangelicals feel is worth the cost of taking a more libertarian angle. This isn’t exactly new as Rand and Buckley were at odds about this half a century ago.

  • Mark

    >> I see the problem of a judicial reversal of Roe as inherently problematic because the judicial branch is not elected. It’s the least democratic method of reversing Roe vs Wade and that social conservatives would pin any heavy weight on stacking the Supreme Court to the end of reversing the judicial ruling shows that that impulse is fundamentally not democratic.

    This is incoherent. There is no point in having a Supreme Court if you can’t distinguish between legitimate use of the Supreme Court and proper from improper decisions. There is no point in having any institutions if a person doesn’t have the will or courage to use it for its intended purpose. I don’t know why you think it is clever to say that overturning a SC decision by the SC is “problematic”. That is just egregiously bad thinking. Was it judicial activism to overturn Plessy v Ferguson? You must realize that most cases that are overturned are done by the court, and not Congress.

    But this still pales in comparison to entertaining that it is possible that non-citizens don’t have a right not to be murdered, as you did earlier. Surely that is the most astonishing thing I have ever heard anyone say. If common sense didn’t tell you that something was wrong with this line of thought, the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is the most well crafted and influential sentences in the history of the English language, assumed by the Constitution (after the Declaration), and widely considered throughout history to constitute the “unalienable” or “sovereign” rights of man.

    I’m not sure that anyone should take advice on the proper use of the Supreme Court from someone so confused on something so fundamental and foundational to the nation as its founding principles, without the presumption of which the Supreme Court (or even lesser courts) could not function. This transcends issues such as young evangelicals, Libertarianism, and such. There isn’t much more I can say if you don’t grasp that because there is no common ground if you don’t.

  • WenatcheeTheHatchet

    You may actually see Roe as a reversible decision and a reversible precedent in the use of judicial power. I don’t see Roe as that for either of those two points. Making up a right to justify abortion from the 13th and 14th amendments goes beyond anything those amendments were designed to do.

    At least in the earlier rulings the court could correct for a misapplication of the amendments ratified by Congress. It wasn’t making up a right that isn’t in the amendment. Just because I concede to being a pessimist who sees Roe as a judicial point of no return in the abuse of power doesn’t mean I don’t understand the principles of the Founding Fathers. Saying I don’t understand the principles is a canard. We haven’t discussed politics long enough for you to say that about me and I certainly won’t say that about you. Doesn’t the Civil War suggest that early on in the history of the republic there was a conflict about what the Founding Fathers intended and what the implications of that were? I don’t think we have to go over someone like Dabney’s inference from “natural history” as to the racial inferiority of blacks, do we? I’ve got friends who are liberal atheists and neo-Confederate Christians and they would all say they get the foundational principles of the country. They would, of course, differ on what the Founding Fathers must have meant by natural law.

    Now I’ll grant that the negative rights argument was bad. It didn’t make sense when I saw J. P. Moreland using it when I considered how that would apply to the right to life, and it didn’t make sense when I saw a conservative saying the right to life is a negative right, but I am trying to find a way to take that set of assertions seriously.

  • Mark

    I think you are fixated on Roe v Wade. I’m not, nor is the movement generally unbeknownst to you. I argue philosophically so I was taking your arguments as you formulated them, but I can see you are totally fixated on exactly what you accuse other of. I should not have engaged you like this because I can see now you reduce the entire issue down to that, at least in negative terms.

    Your analysis of this whole issue is very highly political. But have you really looked at this issue for yourself? Do you really know this issue, or have you accepted unthinkingly what others have told you?

    For example, in your anti-legal arguments I get the impression you see this in terms of people agitating to get SC justices of a certain type and for them to do repeal RvW. Is that accurate? No. Most of the legal action is at the state and local level where often lawyers fight corruption that blocks the normal local laws from having their effect. For example a state attorney general has conflicts on interest state officials who look the other way as unlicensed practitioners perform abortions in total violation of state laws designed to protect women.

    Hell the KKK was eviscerated legally because of their racism. Read “The Fiery Cross” (Wyn Craig Wade). Just enforcing state and local laws bankrupted the organization they had so much to hide. Was that wrong? Shouldn’t the law be followed? You seem to have Roe v Wade on the brain, and project this onto the anti-abortion movement, but it isn’t so and you seem not to know it.

    Do you support to enforcing current laws designed to protect women? I do. The truth is most veterinary clinics have more rules and oversight than the average abortion mill. 2/3 of all abortion clinics in the U. S. have closed since 1991. The only new ones that have opened recently are opened with *federal money*, which is a travesty. People are out there doing the Lord’s work protecting women that are taken advantage of in times of distress, take their money when they are desperate, and harm them in ways they’ll always regret in these scandalously substandard abortion clinics. The truth is skirting state and local laws is how they operate and make a profit. But you think the legality of abortion has to do with SCOTUS, and you accept a caricature of the movement for the real one. You should do your own investigation on what anti-abortion activists do and what they believe. They don’t do or believe what you think. They are silently getting the job done while you claim nothing is happening and they all are fixated on Roe v Wade, when in fact you are.

    >> I’ve got friends who are liberal atheists and neo-Confederate Christians and they would all say they get the foundational principles of the country. They would, of course, differ on what the Founding Fathers must have meant by natural law.

    I know all about neo-Confederates. Read “Apostles of Disunion” (Charles B. Dew) and “The Slave Power” (Leonard Richards) and then ask yourself how the views of your neo-Confederates friends accord with the verifiable facts. I know some who left-of-center who accept a much of the Neo-Confederate narrative because it fits their politics, and I know those on the Right (Libertarians) who accept much of the Neo-Confederate narrative because it fits their politics. It’s too bad people still fall for that stuff. Dew said “Apostles of Disunion” was “a painful book to write”. Read it and you’ll see why and you’ll see a man being intellectually honest.

  • WenatcheeTheHatchet

    I haven’t read a lot of political history but I have read some partisan stuff for and against abortion and fans of Austrian economics and Chicago stuff. I’ve had a few people quote some Dabney and there’s a lot about it that doesn’t pass the smell test for me on race or on music (his treatise on the wrongness of instrumental music suggests a somewhat small mind).

    I have been preoccupied with landing a job and doing some free lance stuff so I admit I haven’t read nearly as much on politics as I have on biblical literature but I do live in a city with a pretty large public library system and have some time. I’ll see if I can dig up some of these titles in the local library system. I do at least have more time than I could want to read.

  • Mark

    I’ve not heard of Dabney. I seldom buy books anymore I use a fast and free interlibrary loan system at the local university library. They pay a fee yearly but its free for people that use the library. I hope other libraries have similar systems now, but I don’t know.

    History is politics past. The American CW is highly politically charged still today, and may always be. If you read “The Fiery Cross” you’ll see how JFK learned the steep price to pay for accepting the views of unreconstructed Southern historians when he wrote “Profiles in Courage”. Because of this book he was a major propagator of the Southern view of history about Reconstruction that he learned the hard way just weren’t true during his actions in the Civil Rights clashes. But he did learn the lesson to his credit, though a shame he didn’t learn before teaching others by writing a book. But he was just repeating what he’d heard. Such is the attraction of the “Lost Cause” that even Northeastern liberal like JFK didn’t escape the pull of the narrative. But like I said, it is a multi-purpose and elastic narrative that appeals to different camps on the left and right, both superficially adapting the narrative to suit. Problem is, the narrative is totally wrong so both sides that adopt it go astray in doing so.

    I think it was George Orwell who said 90% of what was written about the Spanish Civil War was lies. It sounds like hyperbole, but is probably not actually an exaggeration. Learning to navigate your way through such political minefields it is one of the best exercises of judgement and discretion there is in my opinion.

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