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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Spiritual Decline and Fall of the Republican Party: Is it time to form a Christian Center party?

Note: This is a spiritual blog on a political issue. It deals with the spiritual decline of the Republican Party. It has been the most difficult (and personally sad) blog posting I have ever written, as I have been a devoted Republican most of my adult life.  Many of you will disagree with parts or all of it. I am anxious to see your comments.

Twenty years ago my wife and I were attending Sunday church service, and the reading was from Luke 18:1-4, about the unjust judge and the persistent widow. As the reader read the line where the judge thought, “‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think…” I interjected in a stage whisper, “He’s a Democrat.” Everyone around laughed in approval. That’s the way most Evangelical Christians thought (and some still do).  That is, the Democratic Party is the party of the ungodly, supporting abortions, deviant sexuality, radical secularism, etc., while the Republican is the party of America’s Christian heritage and values.

Several years later I was an ordained minister and pastor to a Hispanic/Anglican congregation. Just before the presidential election of 2000 (Bush vs. Gore) I preached about politics (unusual for me) and addressed the handful of persons in my congregation who had the right to vote – most were undocumented or only had green cards. I said that as Hispanic Americans they had to choose between their ultimate spiritual welfare in the Republican Party which was pro-life, and spiritually (semi-) righteous, or the immediate economic benefits offered to the Hispanics in welfare and other entitlements which reflect the policies of the Democratic Party. Bush won that election, and won many Hispanic votes from his understanding of Hispanic issues and his record as governor of Texas.

Two years into the G. W. Bush presidency I was invited to say a prayer at State Republican prayer breakfast, sponsored by a Pentecostal mega-church in Atlanta. I was the token Hispanic preacher, and had my turn at saying a prayer for the Nation. At the time was still a solid Republican, but I was disturbed with my conversation at the breakfast table with madam chairperson of the State Republican party. She dismissed any notion that it was time to initiate a constitutional amendment allowing prayer in public places and in schools. She felt that “would come later,” and what was needed first was revision of the tax code to be pro-business, etc. I was saddened by this spiritual insensitivity. For many years I strongly believed that the series of Supreme Court rulings in 1962-1963 ending prayer in the public schools, and ultimately in the public square, was the key in impelling America towards radical secularization and, ultimately, Paganization. Further, that time was running out to reverse those rulings. The last people are dying who remember how basically moral and peaceful American schools were because they had an essentially Christian setting and began the school day with prayer. This gave a transcendent, extra-personal reason for life and study which is now missing.[1]  

More ominously, she was adamantly opposed to amnesty for Hispanics, and referred to my undocumented Mexicans “law-breakers.” I did not argue with her, but I wondered if she, like most Americans, went over the speed limit every time she hit the interstate, and only considered how far over the limit to go before the police would take notice. How many of us do that and feel it OK to break a law for the minor gain of a few minutes gain in travel time? As Christians we know we are all sinners, and need to own up to also being “lawbreakers”– at least sometimes. The Hispanics in my congregation had crossed the border illegally for serious reasons, the survival of their families. I wondered if madam chairperson would seek across some border if her family’s welfare was in danger.

This is not to negate the really serious issues of border control, and the fact that for many Anglos, especially those living in the Border States, feel their very national identity slighted and marginalized by the massive Hispanic migration. This is not necessarily racism as some critics claim, but is natural to national identity.  For Example, the French have been very sensitive to the overwhelming presence of American movies and culture and make great efforts to keep their language free of Anglo words. That is not racism, but a real issue of cultural integrity and identity exists that has been little addressed in serious political discussions.

I did say to madam chairperson a few words to the effect that many of the Hispanics in my congregation were ‘natural’ Republicans. They were forming small business as mechanics, house-cleaners, and gardening, etc. and favored minimum regulations and other free-enterprise policies basic to Republican ideology. They were also strongly Christian and saw abortion as sin. I suggested the Republican Party should take care to win over as many Hispanics as possible, as a demographic bubble would soon make them a voting block to recon with.

From Democrat to Republican:

I had been a Republican most of my adult life, but I began as a Democrat. My father and mother, adults during the Depression, always voted Democratic and I remember Dad frequently dismissing Republicans as the “party of the rich,” and I mostly agreed. In fact, I campaigned for Jack Kennedy as a high-school junior. But I became a Republican as the Democratic Party turned left during the Vietnam War era. I volunteered for that war, as I believed the struggle against communism was as important as the fight against Nazism and Fascism had been just decades before.  I vowed never to vote Democratic again as Democratic Politicians increasingly mocked the Cold War effort against communism, culminating in the speaker of the House and the Democratic majority siding against the Regan Administration and for the Communist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.

By the time of G. W. Bush’s second term I was having second thoughts. The country desperately needed general health insurance and coverage for everyone, and not just dumping the poor in the emergency rooms. I was under VA medical care and my wife under Medicare, so it was not a personal issue, but rather from observing friends who could not afford adequate insurance or medical care. Why was the concern of the Bush Administration all about helping the business sector? Certainly, that sector generates jobs, but what about an upgrade in the minimum wage? Was my father correct about the Republican Party being the party of the rich?

But forward to the now. The Democratic Party continues its slide into extreme secularism which is turning into open anti-Christianity. This has been partly accelerated by the unnoticed triumph of political and psychological solipsism – where strongly held ideas are granted the statues of truth without any check with reality. This means that any passionately felt idea/inclination is awarded normality, as in the idea that a person believes he is really “trapped” in the body of another sex. Thus ultimately, the government has to pay for surgeries and treatments to conform with that idea. There seems to be no limit to this creeping solipsist “I think and have strong emotions, therefore it is true” mode. Its latest manifestation is persons who believe their “real self” does not include some of their limbs, which should be cut off.  This is called “somatoparaphelia” and is gaining traction. Perhaps in a few decades we will see government funded amputations and special vehicles for persons with these solipsistic fantasies.[2] 

Concurrently, year by year, and accelerating under the Obama administration, American culture continues to become coarser, as there is no longer a Biblical base to say that something is indecent. For example, note how the issue of woman in combat positions was handled. The discussion was all about employment opportunities and the equality of women (a confusion between equality and identity). Not a word was said about the issue of the threat to modesty or morality. Soldiers often live or are transported in very close quarters, and eat, sleep and poop closely, all violating modesty if it is done with a mixed sex unit, besides tempting to fornication. Paganized secularism has no concern or category for either issues. 

Libertarianism as spiritual nihilism:

A decade ago the Republican Party put up some resistance to the solipsist LGBT agenda, but that has mostly ceased. But the spiritual collapse of the Republican Party has come from other sources also. One of the most important is radical Libertarian philosophy. Up to the current decade Libertarianism had its own political manifestation in the Libertarian Party, but it now has become mainline within Republicans. The other manifestation is the Tea Party movement, which also includes a large dose of the Any Rand form of libertarian philosophy called “Objectivism.”

The Libertarian idea is that Government should be as un-intrusive as possible and forbid only those things that would harm others, or allow for one person to coerce another. Also, Libertarians believe government can force valid contracts to be executed. Such government functions as mail delivery, park ownership and social security, etc., should be eliminated or in the hands of privately owned entities. Drug consumption, even of mind altering drugs should be left to the individual and certainly not criminalized. In its pure form the libertarian idea of government has been termed the “night watchmen” mode of government. With all government functions not directly related to protection from violence or coercion ended, or left to private entities. Certainly, good arguments could be made for some of these positions. As a boy I recall how garbage collection was universally a local government operated activity, and often resulted in strikes and disruption of services. That has mostly ended with the now almost universal practice of contracting out that service. On that specific issue Libertarianism was correct.

But as a universal principal Libertarianism can be destructive and become an idolatry. Libertarianism is attractive to many young people in America for the reason that they are blessed by living in a country that has been non-Libertarian and has believed in a government which can organize and operate for the common good. The sacrifices of our predecessors, in the way of taxes for bridges, highways and public facilities have made modern life pleasant for us. It is enlightening to go to a country with poor initial infrastructure to see exactly how awful Libertarian politics and policies can be. Such has happed to the unfortunate Central American country of Honduras, whose government adopted libertarian policies since 2009. That government has created a dump of a country (it was not in good shape to start with) with unrepaired roads and near zero public services.[3]

In theory, there can be an authentic “Christian libertarianism,” which is moderate and I am sure many Conservative Christians hold to this opinion. Many conservative Republicans would point to Senator Ted Cruz as an example of combining the better parts of Libertarian philosophy with Christian morals and values. But Cruz’ record as a non-compromiser, and as one of the most disliked figures in the Senate point to a superficial mix rather than creative synthesis. Ultimately Libertarianism is biblically shaky, and probably no better than the Left’s attempt to combine Marxism with Christianity in “Liberation theology.”

The Biblical view of government:

In the Old Testament we have only a pattern for a theocracy, where the church and state are one. This is of no use to inform the modern government situation. However, in the New Testament we see the Church separate from, and independent of, the state in a relationship that directly speaks to the modern world. Paul had some brief, but telling things to say about government in the letter of Romans. For one, the state has legitimate authority to wield the “sword” to punish evildoers – all libertarians would agree here.  He also insisted that that government officers be respected, honored, and prayed for, for they are ultimately God’s servants. Taxes must be paid (Romans 13:6) and Paul doesn’t differentiate between taxes that you agree with or not. None of this has been of much concern to Libertarian Republicans in the last decade.[4]

Significantly, for Paul one of the tasks of government is the commending and rewarding good civic behavior (Rm 13:4). This was more common in the Ancient world than it is today. Christians of the fundamentalist persuasion should argue this be carried out to the letter, and if for instance, there is a large military  bureaucracy to govern national defense there should be similar, perhaps equal, bureaucracy to identify and reward good civic behavior – a Pentagon of “do-good” bureaucrats snooping around to find out who has been “naughty or nice.”[5]  I am joking, but with a serious point, Romans 13:4 is a tip off that the night-watchmen theory of government is not God’s plan for civil government. Government is for positive things other than safety. [6]  
  
I personally find the night watchman theory of government destructive, and by traveling overseas have learned to appreciate many instances of good government and good government projects in the U.S. that are way beyond the Libertarian night-watchmen ideal. 

Libertarianism before it had a name:

Libertarianism, without that name, was already part of Republican ideology back in the 1930s and the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Republicans opposed most New Deal measures because they went beyond anything described in the constitution, as in the Social Security program and the creation of the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC). That opposition mostly dissipated by the end of World War II with the election of Dwight Eisenhower (1952) as the first Republican President since 1933. Eisenhower, unlike Senator Taft, the establishment Republican nominee of 1951, had no interest in repealing New Deal programs. In fact, President “Ike” pushed forward such new government programs as the interstate highway system which was modeled after the German autobahn which he saw and admired during the War.

Another example of a government program that did immense good was the CCC. I was born in 1943, too young to remember the years of the dust bowl directly. But the vast good of the CCC and other federal programs for soil conservation came home to me decades ago at a summer Christian camp meeting in South Georgia. There two elderly women there began reminiscing about their childhood days, and how ugly the local landscape was, as there was not a tree in sight. All the land was all given to cotton farming. But the work of the CCC and other government programs led to tree hedges, soil conservation, limited cultivation, etc., all of which restored the beauty and fertility of the land. Neither the CCC not the various farm programs would fit a Libertarian definition of the proper role of government, but both did tremendous good. It is hard to see how individual self-interest could have carried out such programs, as each farmer would have been under pressure to produce and sell as much cotton as he could, and could not gratuitously plant trees (that would take year to grow) or let his land go fallow without some sort of compensation.

With climate change now a major threat, it is important to appreciate the positive role that government must have to confront the issue. A recent article in Newsweek highlighted how California, through vigorous government regulations, forced power companies to become leaders in renewable energy practices. California now leads the world, and it the model for the world, in how to achieve economic growth with (mostly) renewable technology, principally wind and solar.[7]  Paul would probably recommend California’s Govern Brown be given a government sponsored  ceremony and olive wreath of recognition, as was the custom in the Roman world. What California modeled is far beyond any conceivable Libertarian understanding of government, and more resembles FDR’s New Deal regulations on agriculture.

Certainly it is true that government programs tend to expand, continue past their usefulness, and create wasteful bureaucracies. A Republican Party which is vigilant about bloated bureaucracy and wasteful projects is certainly needed and beneficial.  Democrats are often careless about this, as bureaucrats tend to vote Democratic and thus create a useful voting bloc. We should be mindful of what has happened to such countries as Greece, Uruguay and Italy where wasteful bureaucracies have become especially onerous.

Ayn Rand “Objectivism”:

An extreme and atheistic form of Libertarianism was created by the philosopher/novelist Ayn Rand.  She called it “Objectivism” for its dependence of sense data and reason, and might be seen as a materialist extreme of Aristotelian philosophy.[8] In her system selfishness, properly managed, is the supreme virtue and best organizing principal of society.[9] Her heroes demonstrate this in her popular (and artless) novels such as Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.  In her universe people divided into “producers” such as business entrepreneurs, and engineers who create wealth and live out their human potential, versus the “parasites” who do no economic good but live off the creativity of the producers.[10]


Ayn Rand and her most popular novel



Many Christians, trying to find an alternative to the statist philosophies common in Europe and among Liberal politicians and thinkers, think Ayn Rand Objectivism can be Christianized, but this is hardly possible.[11]  Any Rand was consistently and bitterly anti-Christian. She particularly despised Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, since it honored the week and the meek, and routinely fulminated against C. S. Lewis.[12]  To the contrary, Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy and ethics formed the basis of Anton La Vet infamous work The Satanic Bible.[13] (One does not even have to go to the New Testament to see how God commands us to help the poor and the week, see for instance Leviticus 19.)

Objectivism has many followers all over the world and is unfortunately influencing corporations, big and small.  An example is the elevation in 2008 of Eddie Lampert, an Ayn Rand devotee, to be CEO of Sears/Kmart. He believed that the Objectivist “virtues” of selfishness and pure competition would increase the corporation’s productivity and bottom line. He divided the Sears/Kmart into competing sub-groups, each responsible for increased profitability. This in fact created a hellish atmosphere of cut-throat competition that dramatically contrasted with the work ethos of the traditional Sears. Profits and sales declined, management morale plummeted, and ultimately, Sears/Kmart may have to go bankrupt.[14]

By happenstance just as I was finishing this piece I ran across a series of articles, “This is Our City,” done by Christianity Today on how individuals a and organizations are making cities in America better by following biblical patters of love and cooperation. The most recent article highlights a CEO of a large electrical contracting company who has made it her task to encourage and hire persons with less than excellent education and mentor them into responsibility and success – the very opposite of Ayn Rand’s “creative selfishness.”[15]

Any Rand philosophy, ethics and politics might be described as a demonic opposite of Marxism and Communism. Ayn Rand was a youth in Russia when the Russian Revolution broke out and she and her family suffered much under communism. She escaped Russia in 1924, and vowed to fight its evil philosophy where she could. Unfortunately she was an atheist and had no inkling of the spiritual dynamics of Marxists, or of her own thought. In Marxist ideology the working man is the saint and hero, and the business man (bourgeois) is the villain. In Objectivism the businessman is the hero of society, and the workers, more than likely, ignorant louts who deserve low wages. In Marxism it is the trans-individual entity, the state or the local “collective” that plans and carries out useful and socially activities, and the individual is warned constantly against selfishness. Again Objectivism is a blanket inversion of this – only the individual can do creative work. As such Objectivism is not a remedy for the collectivization of Marxism, but an inverted caricature of it. The true Christian view is that all social groups are 100% sinners, with some businessmen as well sanctified, most not, and some really villainous, and the “workers” a similar mix of well sanctified and not, or villainous. Similarly, creativity can come from sole individuals, but also from well integrated teams of persons working for a common goal.

Marxists and those in the extreme left suffer from the delusion (and gain a self-esteem payoff) that by being “non-bourgeois” they are more enlightened and righteous than others. Ayn Rand followers have the opposite delusion for being “producers.”  Both patterns are spiritually destructive and sinful as they lead to rash judgments on those who belong to the supposed non-favored groups, and lack self- criticism on their own motivations and actions.

I recall that just after the last congressional elections, when the Republicans consolidated their hold on the Congress and attained a majority in the Senate, the chairman of the Republican Party was interviewed by NPR. He was both hostile and candid, and used Ayn Rand terms to categorize the Republicans as “producers.” I shuddered at this spiritual self-deception. 

The Tea Party and Libertarianism as tax-cutting:

Libertarianism “with teeth” was brought into the Republican mainstream mainly by one person, Grover Glenn Norquist, who founded the “Americans for Tax Reform.”  Norquist’s Libertarianism is of the full-fledged “night-watchmen” variety. His desire is to revoke most Government programs that are “unconstitutional” including those which go back to Teddy Roosvelt’s administration, such as the National Park Service. Since such popular programs are hard to attack front up, the next best thing is to stave the Federal Government of tax revenue so it has to slowly reduce or shut down programs.
To this end he has managed a highly successful campaign to get Republican elected officials to pledge to absolutely no tax increases. By 2012 an amazing 95% of all Republican congressmen had signed on to the pledge. The no-tax pledge became a moral absolute for many Republican voters and their elected officials. No new taxes (and tax reductions) became unquestionably a good thing, and associated with the label “true conservative.” In other words the no-tax policy became an idol, instead of just a usable policy to limit waste. The evil fruit of this idolatry has been seen in the gridlock of the American congress. When tax issues become an idol it is difficult or impossible to compromise. The damage of gridlock is preferred by politicians who fear the wrath of their conservative voters if they compromise with the Democratic opposition.

Night-watchman libertarianism, the Norquist no-tax pledge, and Ayn Rand’s philosophy all came together in the Tea Party movement. Unfortunately, many in the Tea party are sincere Christians even as they carry placards sprouting Any Rand slogans. [16] As a historian I understand, but dislike, the Tea Party’s appropriation of glamour and heroism of the original group that dumped British Tea into Boston harbor. The Original Tea Party Patriots did not object to taxes, only to “taxation without representation” –  a huge difference from the present movement.  Colonial Americans were used to running their local affairs and raised their own taxes as needed without much fuss.

In Georgia (my home state) the Tea Party led a campaign to defeat an important local tax initiative for the repair of roads and bridges, much needed in our state. Their official statement against the tax increase was that public works are often wasteful. This is awful reasoning, as every government, or private, construction project has some waste (have you ever notice the lumber waste at a home construction site). Waste, should be routinely monitored, but the possibility of waste is not a reasonable argument. The real issue was the idol of no-taxes, even in the face of need local needs, and nothing to do with the Federal Government.

Personally, I have never been impressed with the Libertarians argument that individuals always make better choices with their money than government. Did the Tea party members use the tax money they saved for some common good purpose? I am highly suspicious. Most likely they spent their money in Libertarian self-interest with little concern for the common good.

The Present Spiritual Crisis in the Republican Party

The last few months have seen a vast literature on the Rise of Donald Trump, and how such a person of dubious character, nebulous ideas and exaggerated bravado could have achieved prominence in the Republican Party. Much of the analysis has focused on such things as the failure of the Republican establishment to recognize real issues among its constituency, such as the effect of trade pacts that benefit the company headquarters’ staff and stockholders, but ship the manufacturing jobs overseas. All of this is true, and certainly it is good that the issues have come up.

But in this essay I am arguing that the rise of Trump, and the vulgarity and sensationalism of the present primary campaign, could only have occurred in a nation that has lost its roots in Christian ethics. This happened in events (and court rulings) mostly outside of the domain of the Republican Party. However, the Republican Party shares in this sin by not mobilizing a reversal to those tragic decisions, and prioritizing tax and other policies over overruling the courts on this one.

Many of the current problems in the Republican Party are due to its leadership gap. The present leadership has been so weakened spiritually by the steady separation from its Christian roots and the infiltration of Libertarian ideology that they have not noticed how dysfunctional and unattractive they have become. The New Your Times columnist David Brooks, who, inversely, has shown and increased sensitivity to the spiritual and ethical issues of politics, recently described how Republicans and  American Conservatives as a whole have morally declined. He noted that classical conservatism of the Edmund Burke variety (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790, etc.) concerned itself with the greater common good, and how to conserve traditions and institutions that encourage the common good. Libertarianism, particularly the Any Rand variety has destroyed that strand of conservatism. Libertarian Republicans and the Tea Party’s misguided attacks on the traditional patterns of compromise have created a generation of incompetent politicians and gridlock.[17]

Sadly, this is a situation is probably irreversible and sadly contrasts with the Republican Party of earlier decades. A key factor in the difference is a that from the 1950s, American conservatives and Republicans were graced with the leadership, intelligence and wit of William Buckley Jr. (1925-2008), founder of the National Review. As a devote Catholic, he clearly saw the underlying spiritual aspects of the political area, and battled against harmful extremisms that haunted the Republican Party edge. Early on in his career as political columnist he quit the conservative political journal American Mercury, because of its increasing anti-Semitism (a root spiritual dysfunction).[18] But Buckley’s greatest gift to the Republican Party was in his leadership in opposing an extremist group, the John Birch Society. This ultra-conservative group thrived on conspiracy theories, and believed, for instance, that President Eisenhower was a “conscious tool of the Community conspiracy on America.”[19] And, as another example, the Birchers believed that the plan to fluoridate drinking water to prevent tooth decay, then starting to be implemented, was also a communist conspiracy to weaken and poison the American people.[20]

Buckley led the struggle to counter this wacko, but increasingly influential and popular group. In 1961 he organized a secret meeting of Republican luminaries, including Russell Kirk and Senator Barry Goldwater. Goldwater was by then known as “Mr. Conservative,” and went on to become the Republican presidential nominee in 1964. Goldwater admired the passion and dedication of the Joh Birchers, but understood thy held serious delusions. Buckley’s group organized a multipronged attack on the John Birchers. Goldwater toured the country praising the patriotism of the Birchers, but pointing out the logical and historical fallacies of their doctrines. Buckley published a series of blistering attacks on the John Birch Society and its leader John Ealsh, in the National Review. All this had the effect of marginalizing the Society from Republican ranks.[21] 

Buckley’s astute leadership, clear thinking, and base Christian values saved the Republican Party from being overcome by extremism. Significantly, Buckley often called himself a Libertarian, but his brand was both thoughtful and moderate. He constantly opposed Ayn Rand’s Objectivism and its creeping influence in Republican circles. Sadly, no one took on his mantel after he died.

Another Buckley gift to the cause of conservatism and the Republican Party was his famous TV program, “Firing Line” (1966-1999). This program featured vigorous (and almost universally polite) debates between Buckley and liberal politician or academics. Their views were exchanged and thoughtfully countered, with Buckley winning on most occasions.[22]  The program was structured like a collegiate debate exercise, and had its roots in Medieval Christian tradition (of which Buckley was aware) of debating theological and philosophical issues. In the Christian Medieval University the two debaters began by summarizing their opponent’s position to the satisfaction of that opponent. Thus it was clear that each side understood the other’s viewpoint, and not just a caricature of the other’s position. Then the real debate began when each side tried to bring in superior reasoning or new facts to bear, with the intention of converting the opposition. Ridicule and caricature had no place in this tradition.

The stars of today’s conservative talk radio are a faint substitute of Buckley’s Firing Line. They never giving meaningful air-time to the opposition’s best thinkers. Rather, conservative talk radio centers on the opinions of the commentator. For instance, Rush Limbaugh, the key model of conservative talk radio, allows some opposition speakers in his program, but only for very short segments, and he never invites the opposition thinkers to share his microphone for a concentrated debate.  Limbaugh’s programs are well done, very entertaining and his commentary is often insightful, but the model for rational, sustained debate has been forgotten. The effect is that the present day Conservative Libertarian and Tea Party public has no idea of what a good debate is like, or what the real motive and reasoning of the opposition is. Significantly, even liberal commentators are now lamenting the absence of Mr. Buckley and his influence on the Republican Party.[23]
Is it time to form a Christian Center Party?
In this article I have concentrated on the sins and misdemeanors of the Republicans and have not much elaborated my view that the Democratic Party is now essentially radically secular and anti-Christian. That analysis must wait. I only need to say here that the Christian now can find no comfortable home in either political party. Both parties’ “baggage” of excesses and immoderate ideologies makes them untenable to carry out any righteous reforms that would be the interest of the Christian.
We Christians are at a point now where Abolitionists were in 1856. The Whig Party, which should have been their natural home, fudged on the slavery issue, and thus destroyed itself by cowardice. Similarly, I believe the Republican Party, in its Libertarian confusion, has rejected true righteousness for delusional virtues of no compromise on taxes, and in the case of Objectivism, the demonic “virtues” of selfishness and unbridled competition.
The Abolitionists formed a new party, the Republican Party. Note, this did not mean a sinless party. For new political groups, just like old ones, are made up of 100% sinners. The new Republican Party did unload some of the political baggage of the Whigs and was able to carry forward the cause of the restriction of, and eventual abolition of , slavery. The Republicans’ sin pattern manifested almost immediately during the conduct of the Civil War, where greed and carelessness soon became all too common among war contractors.  Thus the Republican Party came into American history with a mix of idealism, greed and focus on the business class that has limited or damaged its ability to govern gracefully.
A new Christian Center party (CCP) cannot expect to be sinless, and, without specific prayer, will certainly fall into the exaggerations and pseudo virtues that all political parties manifest. But it can also be the vehicle of sound, good, or at least non-destructive policies.
The CCP (like the Christian Democratic Union which ruled Germany after World War II, could take a central point between libertarianism and anti-Government (and anti-common good) ideology  of the now totally conservative Republican party, and the statist, extreme secularist and welfare focused ideology of the Democratic Party. It could serve to mediate and cast swing votes between the two in cases where one of the other parties has creative and good legislative proposals. For one, I am thinking of aligning with the Democrats for the reforms necessary in making universal health care a feasible reality. Further on, aligning with the Libertarian/Republican party on limiting and cutting back on ineffective government programs, and limiting the role of the courts on philosophical and moral judgments. The CCP central goal should be reversing the creeping Paganization and anti-Christian tone of the government. For instance, the laws which have made political correctness mandated in colleges and universities, and which act as a substitute for true morality. Or, for another example, in the feminist drive to make all Armed Forces slots gender neutral.

Additional Resources:

A review of new book on William Buckley and his defense of Conservatism agaisnt extremism, Ian Rand and conspiracy theories HERE

An excellent article on Ayn Rand and the Republican Party from Patheos HERE

An article by a psychologist detailing the gross immorality of Rand's inner circle which practiced mate swapping. HERE

A master article by David Brooks of the NYT: HERE

Another terrific article from First Things on the need for civic minded conservatism, HERE

On the political and moral virtures of the old Republican establishment, from First Things: HERE

An article on the hedonistic and destructive personal morality of Mrs. Rand and her close followers. HERE
Announcement:

The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my latest book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.




The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE You can purchase the print version at a discount from the publisher HERE

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.

Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]




[1]See William F. Buckley’s, Nearer My God: An Autobiography of Faith (New York: Doubleday: 1997). For many readers, the first years of the GW Bush presidency are a distant memory, but it was a time when the Evangelical/Catholic alliance was strong, and a prayer-amendment could have passed.  Madam Chairperson’s position made sense to me only when I read the article by R.R Reno on how the Republican establishment was using its Cristian base without really meeting its concerns. R. R. Reno, “Our Challenged,” First Things August 2012.   http://www.firstthings.com/article/2013/08/our-challenges     
[2] See the key article on this solipsism: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2000/12/a-new-way-to-be-mad/304671/  I have dealt with the  issue of solipsism in sexuality and its demonic base  in the blog: The Anglican Pentecostal, “The Demonic Origins and Confusion of the Transgender Issue,” http://anglicalpentecostal.blogspot.com/2015/11/the-demonic-origins-and-confusion-of.html?_sm_au_=iMV0nHPZWQRVN6F6
[3] Edwin Lyngor, “My Libertarian Vacation Nightmare,” Salon (March 2, 2015).  http://www.salon.com/2015/03/02/my_libertarian_vacation_nightmare_how_ayn_rand_ron_paul_their_groupies_were_all_debunked/   This article is particularly significant, as it was written by an American Libertarian (now ex-Libertarian) who traveled to Honduras to see just how well Libertarian polices could work.
[4] I find the disrespect and gossip against Obama expressed by many Christian most distressing. We have every right to disagree with his policies and voice our opinions, but much of the criticism of Obama by Christian conservatives would have been labeled “evil speaking” by the Fathers of the Early Church, and punishable by sever penances. I mentioned this to a Republican friend who replied, “But the Democrats did the same to Bush.” The point is that Christian behavior and speaking cannot be determined by secular standards.
[5] Christian fiction writers, here is a great idea for a novel, an alternative universe in which this is true! Have fun.
[6] For a theological discussion of the positive role of Government, see Roger Scruton’s, “The Good of Government: American Conservatives Need a Positive View of government,” First Things (June, 2014). http://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/06/the-good-of-government   First Things is perhaps the premier orthodox/conservative Christian journal in America today, and it has published a series of critical articles on libertarianism from a variety of fine authors (note the following footnotes).
[7] Gabriel Kahn, “Did California figure Out How to Fix Global Warming?”  Newsweek  (March 23, 2016).  http://www.newsweek.com/california-global-warming-climate-change-439972?google_editors_picks=true
[8] The online article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is objective, complete and accessible: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ayn-rand/
[9] See: Jennifer Burns. Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (New York; Oxford University Press, 2009).
[10] Note the article by Henry Blodget “The Selfish Ayn Rand Business Philosophy is Ruining the U.S Economy,” Business Insider, September 24, 2013. http://www.businessinsider.com/ayn-rand-is-ruining-the-american-economy-2013-9
[11] See, Joseph Knippenberg’s. “Libertarianism and Christianity,” First Things (December 20, 2011). http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2011/12/libertarianism-and-christianity  And Joe Carter’s, “Virtue Ethics and Broken Windows or Why I Am Not a Libertarian,” First Things, (July, 9, 2009). http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/07/virtue-ethics-and-broken-windows-or-why-i-am-not-a-libertarian
[12] David Bently Hart, “The Trouble with Ayn Rand,” First Things, May 1, 2011. And Matthew Schmitz, “Ayn Rand Really Really Hated C.S. lewis,” First Things, (Mar 27, 2013).  For direct quotes on Ayn Rand’s antipathy towards religion and Christianity see the official Ayn Rand website: and the heading “religion” : https://campus.aynrand.org/lexicon/religion
[13] Joe Carter, “The Fountainhead of Satanism” First Things (Jun 8, 2011). http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2011/06/the-fountainhead-of-satanism
[14] Mina Kines, Eddie Lambert’s Warring Divisions Model Made Things Worse,” Bloomberg Business (July 11, 2013).  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-07-11/at-sears-eddie-lamperts-warring-divisions-model-adds-to-the-troubles Of course other factors are involved in the decline of Sears/Kmart, especially in the juggernaut ascendency of Walmart.
[15]Jeff Haanen, “Light for Electricians: How Christians Bring Hope to Business,” Christianity Today (March 21, 2016).
[16] The Guardian, “The Tea Party and Ayn Rand,” April 22, 2011
[18] That many Republicans of the 1950s shared a deep suspicion for the Jews in America is partially understandable in that many of the Jewish migrants who came to American in the early 20th C were often secularized and alienated from religious Judaism, and placed their trust in radical politics. Buckley spiritually discerned that, in spite of that, anti-Semitism was evil. Here I must confess that s a young man and passionate Democrat I considered Buckley as some sort of political jerk rather than the prophet he was.
[19]The similarities between the Tea Party and the John Birch Society has been noted by various writes. In fact the Tea Party included many of the now gray-haired John Birchers. See Adam Gopnik, “The John Birchers’ Tea Party,” New Yorker, posted: October 11, 2013. http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-john-birchers-tea-party
[20] For a book length study of the Society see, D. T. Mulloy, The World of the John Birch Society: Conspiracy, Conservatism, and the Cold War (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2014).
[21] Al of this is described by Buckley himself, who calls it the “Palm Beach Conspiracy.” See his article, “Goldwater, the John Birch Society, and Me,” Commentary. Posted March 1, 2008. Details of Buckley’s campaign against the John Birch society are found in my article in Pneuma Rview, “Sinfulness and Destructiveness of Conspiracy Theories”  June 29, 2015 Pneuma Review http://pneumareview.com/the-sinfulness-and-destructiveness-of-conspiracy-theories/
[22] The exception was his long standing feud with George Vidal, which got “testy” but fortunately not homicidal.
[23] David Welch, “Where Have You Gone Bill Buckley,” New York Times,  December 3, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/opinion/where-have-you-gone-bill-buckley.html?_r=0