“He’s committed to his vision of what the conservative movement, and American politics, can look like. ‘I have faith in the power of clear, coherent, deep thinking to produce good citizens and good people’, George said.” Yep. That’s indeed what I said–and what I believe. https://t.co/X51OarrjWL— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) January 1, 2020
I’m not impressed with Robert P. George and the brood of conservative liberals he has sheltered and nurtured at Princeton.
“Same-sex marriage advocates told the public that they sought only the “freedom to marry.” Same-sex couples were already free to live as they chose, but legal recognition was about the definition of marriage for all of society. It was about affirmation — by the government and everyone else.
It’s unsurprising that once a campaign that used to cry “live and let live” prevailed, it began working to shut down Catholic adoption agencies and harass evangelical bakers and florists. This shows it was never really about “live and let live” — that was a merely tactical stance. …
It also undercuts any reasonable justification for marital norms. After all, if marriage is about romantic connection, why require monogamy? There’s nothing magical about the number two, as defenders of “polyamory” point out. If marriage isn’t a conjugal union uniting a man and a woman as one flesh, why should it involve or imply sexual exclusivity? If it isn’t a comprehensive union inherently ordered to childbearing and rearing, why should it be pledged to permanence?
Marriage redefiners could not answer these questions when challenged to show that the elimination of sexual complementarity did not undermine other marital norms. Today, they increasingly admit that they have no stake in upholding norms of monogamy, exclusivity and permanence. …”
I agree that White Christian America collapsed in the 2010s. I agree that marriage, the family and gender norms were all radically subverted and redefined and that this is a terrible development. I agree that worse is to come.
Who is responsible for this disaster though? Someone was at the helm of the ship and it wasn’t people like us. I would argue it is due to people like Robert P. George and their negative influence on the Right. The first step toward recovery is getting rid of these people.
“Of America’s elite universities, Princeton has a plausible claim to being one of the most powerful incubators of young conservatives who want to work in politics. The campus is largely apolitical or vaguely liberal, students told me, but George has carved out a mini-kingdom for right-leaning academics and students, who have gone on to hold all sorts of influential positions. Many leading conservative luminaries, including Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and Senator Ted Cruz, have degrees from the institution. Like graduates of other prestigious colleges, Princeton alumni serve as Hill staffers, diplomats, think-tank wonks, and even Fox News personalities.
While Princeton’s conservative life may be flourishing, its intellectual environment is distinctly at odds with conservatism on the national stage. …
The students and professors who move in Princeton’s conservative worlds have a diverse range of political views: They are pro-Trump and anti-Trump, stalwart supporters of the Republican Party and politically homeless wanderers with conservative leanings. I talked with students who like some of what Trump is doing, but for the most part, they were hesitant to go full MAGA. Regardless of their political persuasions, they seem to share a vision of how politics should be done, prizing respectful debate, principled arguments, and guidance from thinkers such as John Locke and Alexis de Tocqueville. It’s an ethos focused, above all, on civility and erudition. …”
This is how Rod Dreher describes Robert P. George. He fought harder than almost anyone on the mainstream conservative side against gay marriage. Unfortunately, they all failed because the war was unwinnable. It was like the Polish cavalry charging into the Wehrmacht. No one could have turned back the tide of homosexuality and transgenderism.
“George and Anderson, and all of us who consider ourselves their allies, failed to stop this thing. But this failure ought to be judged as a loss in a war that was unwinnable. George and Anderson fought harder than almost anybody, and with real moral and intellectual excellence. But they, and their allies (I include myself in this number, though my contributions have been very modest compared to theirs), were the equivalent of the mythical Polish cavalry charging into the face of the Wehrmacht. (This didn’t actually happen, but it’s a powerful symbol nonetheless.) …”
George writes back:
“I don’t agree that the war was unwinnable. (In fact, I don’t believe it is permanently lost, though obviously those of us who believe in marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife and who uphold basic understandings of sexuality and norms of sexual morality have been knocked back on our heels–hard.) What has been missing on the “conservative” or “traditional” side is not something that was unavailable to us. Rather, it was something too many conservatives or traditionalists (or whatever you want to call us) failed to muster. People could have mustered it, but too many didn’t. What am I referring to? Courage. What has been in short supply is courage.
Our opponents sensed that many of our people lacked it and they did what savvy–and ruthless–people would do in that circumstance: they ran a campaign of intimidation, smearing anyone who opposed their agenda as a bigot and a hater.
So when push came to shove, many, many supporters of marriage and traditional understandings of sexuality and sexual morality yielded to the bullying or at least abandoned the field. …”
Why is that?
What does Robert P. George believe? What is it about his version of conservatism that is so poorly matched against progressivism? Why is it like the Polish cavalry going up against the Wehrmacht? Why is it perceived as the weak sauce? George himself says the hallmark of his fellow conservatives is cowardice and that is why they lost the culture war.
“This was comparatively easy to do because they had managed early on to gain something approaching a monopoly on what David Brooks (who himself supported and supports the redefinition of marriage) rightly calls “cultural power.” They controlled the commanding heights of culture: the universities, the news and (very importantly) entertainment media, the arts and their institutions, the major professional associations, mainline religion, even (they discovered) most of the corporate board rooms. …”
Why is that?
Why were these people allowed to hijack all of these institutions in the first place and poison and subvert our culture? Could it be the result of a having a deregulated culture that allowed Jews to rise to the top of the social pyramid and rain down shit on everyone below them?
Conservative liberalism and cowardice brought about our present situation:
“That the United States of America is an exceptional nation seems to me to be a proposition whose truth is too obvious to debate. What other nation in the history of the world was, quite literally, “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”? There is no other nation. And our nation was not only, “so conceived, and so dedicated,” it has proven to the world that “a nation so conceived and so dedicated can [indeed] long endure.” The history of our nation is the story of “We the people”—the American people—struggling (sometimes struggling against each other) to protect, and honor, and live up to the exceptional principles around which we have integrated ourselves and constituted ourselves as a people. And while our record is far from unblemished, we have not been left unblessed with success.
No one needs me to remind him that part of what is unique about the United States is that our common bonds are not in blood or even soil, but are in a shared moral-political creed. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This is clearest in the fact that people really can, in the richest and fullest possible sense, become Americans. And millions upon millions of people have done so. Of course, one can become a citizen of Greece or France or China, but can one really become a Greek, or a Frenchman, or Chinese? An immigrant who becomes a citizen of the United States becomes, or at least can become, not merely an American citizen, but an American. He is as American as the fellow whose ancestors arrived on the Mayflower.
Now, how do immigrants become Americans? In practice, it goes beyond becoming an American citizen, and even formally signing on with the American creed. …”
“And yet Americans are uneasy, unhappy, worried. Many are disaffected. At the extremes, small radicalized factions embrace violence against political opponents. Some stop short of endorsing violence but deploy a rhetoric of demonization that if unchecked will surely corrode the civic friendship—what Lincoln in his first inaugural address called “the bonds of affection”—on which the success of republican democracy vitally depends. Incivility in politics is scarcely something new, but some today regard it as a virtue. That is new. Even some who claim the mantle of conservatism seem to have been lured into an attitude of tribalism and identity politics. How should true conservatives understand our problems, and what should we propose to do about them?
As a conservative, I believe that at the heart of our woes is what has so often been at the heart of our woes whenever we have had woes, going all the way back to the original sin of slavery: infidelity to our nation’s founding principles. Those principles include our formal constitutional commitments as well as the moral and cultural norms, practices, and understandings upon which those commitments depend. America is great. And the promise of America remains great. But in many crucial areas we have indeed gone astray. If America is to be true to herself, and if she is to fulfill her promise, things must be turned around.
Because our founding principles are true and good, they are demanding. It is not easy to live up to them, and we will never do so perfectly. Temptations to infidelity will always be with us. All the unsavory qualities of human nature that James Madison identified in the 10th Federalist Paper—and more—make it a challenge for us frail, fallen, fallible human beings to “hold fast to the right,” in the words of the old hymm …
If we are to overcome our woes, if we are to renew our great nation in the only way that our nation ever can be renewed—by returning to our first principles—then labor and sacrifice will be required of all of us. …”
Well, there is your answer.
Robert P. George is a conservative liberal whose worldview is indistinguishable from the version of conservatism propagated by the Heritage Foundation. He defines American national identity as liberalism. It is an abstract creed that anyone can come here and embrace. We’ve progressed as a society to the extent that reality over the course of the last two centuries has been gradually brought into ever closer alignment with liberal ideology. The job of conservatism is to conserve this “shared moral-political creed” and these “first principles.”
But who is the creed shared with? The creed is shared with the progressive liberals – the other side of the political mainstream – who argue in favor of extending the boundaries of freedom, equality, tolerance, individual rights and so forth to ever greater extremes. So the result is two groups of liberals arguing with each other about whether social change should be faster or slower. This is exactly like two groups of communists or anarchists arguing with each other – a moderate faction and an extreme faction – within the same shared ideological framework of communism or anarchism. Should we be surprised by the long term drift of such a system?
What about the people who reject this “shared moral-political creed” and the “first principles” with the Left because of what it inexorably leads to everywhere it has been implemented? Well, those people are “extremists.” They’re very bad people for not believing in liberalism!