Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


Pretend-Conservatives Christian Politicians and Your Conservative Values * by Odell Brown

By Rob Tenery, MD on December 17, 2018

 

Have you ever thought about the origin of your conservatism and whether or not it is genuine? The reason I ask this question is that there are many people who call themselves conservative, but their actions belie that claim. The place we see it most is in our politicians who court us for our vote. These individuals must publicly declare their conservative values for all citizens, specifically conservatives, to hear and hopefully convince us to join their team. For the vast majority of us who embrace the term conservative as a single word to describe our beliefs, few people will ever know it. As I have heard some conservative talk-show hosts like Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh explain, conservatism is not a belief or ideology like progressivism or liberalism where feelings dictate our actions, it is a way of life.

The reason conservatism is described as a way of life is that we embrace fundamental principles that are long-lasting irrespective of the time and place it is practiced. From a Christian perspective, conservatism is just the way God intended us to live. For example, “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” If this principle is truly incorporated into our daily lives, we would not hate those who are different from us. Whether a person is Black, White, Asian or Hispanic, or if they are homosexual or heterosexual, we treat each person as an equal and assess them on the basis of their individual character, performance and willingness to contribute.  A second principle we embrace as conservatives is that everyone is expected to employ their skills to survive and advance their individual growth. This is not to say that we don’t help those who might fall into a difficult situation, but we do expect each other to wisely use what is given to better our situation and not rely on the charity of others as a way of living. We believe that the first line of help should come from those closest to us and not from the government. 

Opening the door for the government to get involved in our lives only invites “our betters” to dictate to us what we are either allowed or not allowed to do in our lives: even when there is no physical hurt or harm to others. From the words we can say to the activities we engage in, once government gets involved there is the tendency to levy restrictions on us, rendering us only free to do what a few elected representatives deem we are free to do.  This is not to argue that all government regulation is bad, but it should be very limited or we will eventually lose individual liberty.

Although in most cases, our elected political leaders start at the local level, many, through ambitious intent, quickly move to the national level. They do so by rhetorically convincing the majority of us of that they are truly conservative and will not allow their advancement to shake their values and principles. However, once they are secure in their national elected office, they start to “see the light” and find that the values that got them where they are, are no longer true. Because they want to keep praise heaped upon them, they have to adopt new principles; those that are popular with the press, a group they fear will ruin their success.  There are politicians like outgoing Arizona senator, Jeff Flake, who proclaims from the rafters that he is a conservative and Christian, yet he opposes President Trump on almost every issue. Because he cannot have his way on passing a bill to protect Robert Mueller from being fired, Flake has vowed to block all judicial appointments in the short time he has left in the Senate.

This is the same Jeff Flake who cannot find an ill word to say about former President Obama, even though Obama was extremely polarizing and divisive. Jeff Flake and other pretend-conservative Christians politicians want to say that it is President Trump’s tweets and sometimes colorful name calling as the reason they cannot support him. This is despite the fact that President Trump has embraced conservativism through his policies more than most elected politicians, particularly those who have run as Republican presidential candidates in recent years.

It is one thing for the individual politician to change his or her values and principles, it is wholly different when they incorporate them into policy pronouncements that attempt to criminalize or shame those of us who hold fast to ours. Having once embraced, or at least verbalizing, the same values and principles we voted for them on, they now come to us and say we don’t quite understand the issues. All of a sudden our views on critical subjects have become myopic and out of the mainstream. We are the ones who have lost touch while our elected politicians have grown wiser, amazing!

So, I ask again, what is the origin of your conservatism? Evaluate what you believe and why. Know yourself and don’t change your principles and values to fit in with popular movements. I know the source of my values and I will stand fast against an ever growing onslaught of shouts that tells me that I am failing to move along with the times.                          

Author: Odell Brown 





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