What’s the common denominator here? The inability of people running this show to make clear moral choices based on a coherent set of values. CPAC’s host, the American Conservative Union, is unable or unwilling to distinguish right from wrong or to acknowledge there is a definition of right from wrong other than the choice between socialism and market economics.
Ultimately, that is what American conservatism has always been about – holding on to the foundations of ultimate truth: that we live in a world created by God to whom we are all accountable. He is the rule-maker. We have the freedom to obey His will or not, but there are consequences when we disobey.
Yes, free enterprise is clearly preferable as an economic system to socialism.
But we know this not just through the vantage point of historical trial and error. We know this because the Bible tells us so.
It’s God who defines right from wrong for us. We can learn those lessons the hard way, by making costly errors and correcting ourselves. Or we can learn from the tragic experiences of others laid out in God’s Word.
Some conservatives have not yet learned those lessons either way, apparently believing, like their counterparts on the left, that we live in an exclusively material world where truth and morality are relative except, perhaps, for the fact that capitalism is better than socialism.
Let me try to frame what is happening inside the conservative movement in a way that might sharpen our focus.
Let’s pretend that some free-market-loving adulterers got together and formed an organization called “Swing Right.” This group says it supports a strong U.S. defense, but that the military should have no rules against promiscuous sex inside the ranks. The group says it supports free enterprise, but that tax policy should be revamped to create equity for those in the “swinging” lifestyle. The group says it supports limited government, but it approves of the intervention of federal judges in state referenda in which citizens approve of marriage as an institution between one man and one woman. The group also calls for special protections of the “swinging” community that will ensure adulterers will not be fired by their bosses because of their behavior and applauds hate-crimes laws to punish those who don’t approve of their lifestyle.
Would it be appropriate for conservatives, who are supposed to be about conserving the vital institutions of self-government, to validate such a group’s claims being part of the movement?
Immediately, some will suggest my analogy here is outrageous and ridiculous. Yet it is a near-perfect parallel to what CPAC and others in the conservative movement have done in their eagerness to build a bigger tent, to show how open-minded they are, to bring in more money and, perhaps, to make them more comfortable in their own spiritual void.
This moral blindness is like a cancer inside a movement that is, otherwise, fundamentally sound.
Conservatives need to ask themselves this key question: What is it that we are trying to conserve?
Is it just pure economics? Is that the only common denominator of the conservative movement? Is that really a strong enough platform upon which to rebuild our country and solve the problems of a crumbling culture? Is that what our founders believed? Is that what they did? Are our fundamental rights as human beings determined by the legislative process or by court order, or are we actually endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights?
These are the questions real conservatives should be grappling with next month at CPAC. But I don’t expect they will get the chance. Instead, I expect those who attend will be entertained by a lineup of speakers denouncing the moral bankruptcy and relativism of the left.