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COMMUNITY VOICE

We cannot preach our religious doctrine as our politics and win

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 12:01 am

Kerry Hubartt on March 23 asked the question, “Must GOP compromise on principles to win elections?”

If the editor is talking about presidential elections, the answer is obviously “yes” when one looks at the census data. But he joined his religion with conservative Republican politics and came up with “no” as the answer.

Republicans would like to think that God is on their side against liberal Democrats who respond to ad hoc situations with solutions related to the situation, because the liberals’ nonunified point of view is inchoate and wrong, and any deity worth his salt would be able to discern that the conservative’s absolute truths are rational and objective truth.

To put it another way, conservatives do not deny the liberal’s claim of undiscovered or undisclosed truths, but they quickly point out that their rational absolutes are never irrational, and, therefore, claim that truths that have already been apprehended are more important to cultivate than whatever is to come.

But this is simply good-hearted arrogance cloaked in morality. In a not unfriendly matter-of-fact sort of way, I would argue that the God worth worshipping is the one who pays us the compliment of self-regulation, and we might return it by minding our own business via leaving God’s devices to God.

Conservatives’ aim of spreading the austere doctrine that has never worked, aka Republican Calvinism, to our current debt, which all leaders agree is not an immediate problem, much less a crisis, is relevant to the debate once Republicans connect their religion to their politics. That is, to a micromanaging God who operates the universe for the advantage of particular believers.

This message is not resonating with the young across any political divide. I, and they, would like to think that we are on God’s side, not that God is on our side.

Peggy Noonan (The Wall Street Journal, March 23-24) put the Republican problem this way: “The Iraq War almost killed the GOP.” It’s the divisive policies that are viewed by women, Latinos, blacks, gays, etc. It’s not the tone; it’s the simple fact that conservatives “principles” are not valued by a majority of Americans.

“Stick to your principles,” as the editor advised the GOP, and continue losing the White House.

The new majority in the USA does not worship the post of conservatism. It is more concerned with the “here and now” that Thomas Jefferson put in the Declaration and even Mike Pence said was “sacred” in a letter to me a few years ago. He and I agree on that point. But we part company on the strength of pragmatism, which is both the Democrats’ strength and problem.

Regardless, we cannot preach our religious doctrine as our politics and win.

B. J. Paschal is a professor emeritus at Ball State University.