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EricMartin
03-17-2009, 06:35 PM
Jesus Christ or John Galt? The Republican Party's Identity Crisis (http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=5466)

In the aftermath of the substantial Democratic victory in last November’s election, Republicans nationwide are reported to be doing a great deal of “soul searching.” Indeed they should. After all, times are not looking good for the Republican Party. Former President Bush left office with record-low support, and both houses of Congress, along with the White House, are now solidly Democratic. Michael Steele, a former lieutenant governor and recently elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, attributed the Republican loss in the last election to a lack of understanding of what the party stood for. In his words, “We didn’t have anything to say to the American people other than, ‘We’re not Democrats.’” Saxby Chambliss, the newly re-elected Republican senator from Georgia, has echoed Steele, calling on the party to return to its principles.

But what principles are those? Historically, the political philosophy of the Republican Party has been an amalgam of advocacy for small government and capitalism, combined with support for religion and traditional values. The more capitalist element of the party tends to concern itself primarily with economic policy, traditionally supporting less government spending, lower taxes and deregulation. By contrast, the religionist element of the party tends to focus on social policy. It is the driving force behind Republican support for increasing the role of religion in public life, the repeal of Roe v. Wade, and various attempts to ban gay marriage.

But the line between economic and social policies has become increasingly blurred. Though the capitalist and religionist elements have each tried to grant the other autonomy within its own area of interest, the differences in their fundamental principles have resulted in conflicting policy approaches. Most religionists, for example, don’t seem to have a problem with the growth of the welfare state, as long as faith-based initiatives get a piece of the pie (as they did in the case of the Bush Administration’s “social service grants” for religious organizations, which handed out $2.2 billion in one year alone). The capitalist Republicans, on the other hand, tend to advocate for reducing government programs and handouts. A reduction in welfare recipients, for example, was a key ingredient of the Republican Party platform in the mid-90s.

The conflict between the two camps is not limited to entitlements. While the religionists support greater policing of the airwaves for objectionable content, the capitalists are inclined towards less government control over media outlets. The religionists want to maintain and improve public schools but ensure religion has an influence on the curriculum (such as how evolution is taught), while the capitalists have tended to support things like school vouchers, which some see as a step towards privatizing education.

This clash in policy positions is the result of two distinct sets of political principles. In the past, both sides coexisted in an uneasy alliance, but over time the disagreements between them have become too great to reconcile. This is unsurprising: the two sets of political principles are grounded in two opposing ethical systems.

Capitalism upholds each individual’s right to exist for his own sake, independent from any group. Its moral foundation is rational self-interest. According to this morality, the good is the pursuit of one’s own happiness. Religion, on the other hand, implies a system where each individual exists to serve the group or greater good. Christian tradition is rife with admonishments against selfishness: “we are our brother’s keepers” is an obvious example. This sentiment represents the moral code of altruism, which holds fulfilling the needs of others as a moral imperative. The welfare state is a natural extension of this tenet. People need money, education, sanitation, transportation, etc. Under a religious (i.e. altruistic) morality, we are obligated to satisfy these needs for those unwilling or unable to do so themselves.

How can one reconcile these opposing beliefs? How can one unite the religious demand to selflessly help the needy through welfare state agencies (such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) with the capitalist insistence that an individual’s primary responsibility is achieving his own well-being? Where is the compromise between the religionist’s call to force children to pray in school and the capitalist’s call to maintain a barrier between church and state? How can one bring together the principle that a woman’s life is her own (the morality of rational self-interest), with the edict that a woman has a duty to protect the growth of an embryo (the morality of religion)?

The answer is that one can’t. There is no way to reconcile an individualistic, self-interested morality and an altruistic morality of religious duties. Politically, this means there is no way to support both capitalist and religious policies. “The party of principle,” as the GOP often calls itself, is currently governed by two sets of principles that fundamentally contradict one another.

The first years of President Obama’s administration provide the Republican Party with an opportunity to redefine itself. To do so, Republicans first need to decide what they stand for. They can become the party that promotes individual rights, small government, and capitalism, or they can become an ever more theocratic, intrusive, and socialist party.

Thus far, the signs are not good for those Republicans who support capitalism. The Bush administration solidified the prominence of religionists within the party. As evidence of the party’s current direction, Sarah Palin, McCain’s devoutly religious running mate, is already being considered as a candidate for 2012. But the opportunity for a new direction remains.

Republicans who support capitalism need to understand that those who combine religion with politics are their enemies, and must be ostracized from the party. In order to be successful, they need to defend capitalism on ethical grounds, which means recognizing that their best pitchman is not Jesus Christ, but John Galt.

Gingersnap
03-17-2009, 08:06 PM
The author is sadly unaware of Calvinism and Reformed theology.


This is what you get when your knowledge of Christianity is formed by the MSM version of Evangelicalism and Social Justice Catholicism. :rolleyes:

EricMartin
03-17-2009, 08:27 PM
The author is sadly unaware of Calvinism and Reformed theology.


This is what you get when your knowledge of Christianity is formed by the MSM version of Evangelicalism and Social Justice Catholicism. :rolleyes:

I decided to read up on it on Wikipedia (not a reliable source, I know). It said that Calvinism is based on "The Five points of Calvinism" -- the first of these being "Total Depravity":


The doctrine of total depravity (also called "total inability") asserts that, as a consequence of the fall of humanity into sin, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin. People are not by nature inclined to love God with their whole heart, mind, or strength, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests over those of their neighbor and to reject the rule of God. Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to follow God and be saved because they are unwilling to do so out of the necessity of their own natures. (The term "total" in this context refers to sin affecting every part of a person, not that every person is as evil as possible.)

According to that, every person is enslaved to the service of sin -- sin, of course, being to "seek one's own interest" (namely the pursuit of one's own happiness), while the good is altruistic self-sacrifice to the collective.

Based on that first "point of Calvinism" alone, I don't really see how it's any different from what's described in the article in the opening post. I know it's wrong to judge a whole school of religion based on part of a Wikipedia article though, so please enlighten me if it's been misinterpreted.

FlaGator
03-17-2009, 08:51 PM
I decided to read up on it on Wikipedia (not a reliable source, I know). It said that Calvinism is based on "The Five points of Calvinism" -- the first of these being "Total Depravity":



According to that, every person is enslaved to the service of sin -- sin, of course, being to "seek one's own interest" (namely the pursuit of one's own happiness), while the good is altruistic self-sacrifice to the collective.

Based on that first "point of Calvinism" alone, I don't really see how it's any different from what's described in the article in the opening post. I know it's wrong to judge a whole school of religion based on part of a Wikipedia article though, so please enlighten me if it's been misinterpreted.

Allow me to clarify the concept of total deprivaty. Total depravity is that all people are born to act contrary to the desires of God. People have a natural inclination to reject God. This is not the same as seeking one's interest. When one is in harmony with God, His interests and the believer's interests are in a state of transition to become one in the same. One is said to sin when one acts in a manner that is defies God's will. As humans we are allowed to make this choice. We are allowed to reject God.

Everyone is a slave to something. Some people are slaves to tobacco, some to drugs, some to money, some to sex, some to ambition, some to politics... the list goes on and on. Someone of faith has decided to reject enslavement to the material and instead serve the will of the Lord.

Defining sin as the pursuit of one's happiness is completey incorrect and implies that believers aren't happy and nothing is further from the truth. Sin is simply defying the will of God.

When I see things like you just wrote,

sin, of course, being to "seek one's own interest" (namely the pursuit of one's own happiness), while the good is altruistic self-sacrifice to the collective.


Is loaded with prejudice that did not escape my attention. If you are generally interested in a discussion on Christianity, I will be happy to oblige. However, I suspect that you really have no interest in such a discussion other than to express your apparent disdain of religion in which case feel free to in which case I won't be participating...

Gingersnap
03-17-2009, 09:33 PM
FlaGator is correct but he assumes you know more than you do.

The Wiki overview of TULIP is necessarily brief and more importantly, it doesn't got into the various theological concepts that formed the Reformation. But that's not important for this discussion.

Whatever TULIP looks like to the contemporary observer, it is undeniable that the theology of Calvin as it became integrated into Western society is utterly different than the "woe is me" concept of current progressive or liberal Christianity.

Under Roman Catholicism (and I have respect for this branch), a person's state in life was whatever it was. People were encouraged to make the best of that but your state of life was your state of life. After the Reformation and due to Reformation ideas about the state of man and the function of Grace, people were encouraged or even exhorted to do much better than merely make peace with their lot.

Thrift, hard work, personal responsibility, amends, charity, self sacrifice, and the rewards that came of all that were emphasized in a practical way. Calvin didn't set out to make people admire self-sufficiency (he wouldn't have acknowledged that such a thing existed for Christians) but the end result was the same.

Christianity isn't all sweetness and light. Much of it is firmly grounded in discipline, responsibility, hard work, honesty, fair dealings, and the rejection of temptations. From a purely pragmatic point of view, this all leads to a pretty good life and one that is not dependent on the State but does still allow for charity toward the helpless.

MrsSmith
03-17-2009, 10:33 PM
How can one reconcile these opposing beliefs? How can one unite the religious demand to selflessly help the needy through welfare state agencies (such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) with the capitalist insistence that an individual’s primary responsibility is achieving his own well-being?

In the first place, there is no religious demand to help the needy through "welfare state agencies." The honorable and most efficient way to help the needy is through private charities. Private charities receive donations largely from those who have followed the capitilist responsibility to achieve some measure of security and wealth, and are therefore able to give generously to meet the needs of others...exactly as portrayed in the Bible.


Where is the compromise between the religionist’s call to force children to pray in school and the capitalist’s call to maintain a barrier between church and state?

Another false choice already? :rolleyes: "Religionists" do not call for children to be forced to pray in school...but rather that no more children will be punished for praying in school, bringing Bibles to school, mentioning Christ in a paper, or praying at games and ceremonies. We also call for that barrier to block the STATE from our CHURCHES...something it seems to do very poorly, if at all.


How can one bring together the principle that a woman’s life is her own (the morality of rational self-interest), with the edict that a woman has a duty to protect the growth of an embryo (the morality of religion)?

Well, what do you know...and third false choice. This author is just brilliant, huh? A woman's life is absolutely her own, her body is her own, her choices are her own...but the child she conceives is NOT her life, NOT her body, NOT her choice. He or she is her child, and her choices are to care for that child, or give that care to another.


*Edit to say, I hope this guy invents better than he thinks...otherwise medical equipment is going to get very scary.

Gingersnap
03-17-2009, 10:38 PM
Let's stay on point here. All the replies have been interesting but let's not get sidetracked into abortion or other matters until we have a cogent reason. ;)

noonwitch
03-18-2009, 09:17 AM
How about choosing neither as a personification of the GOP? One is a fictional character and the other is to many an aspect of God.

If the GOP can become the party of the pragmatic, it would solve it's identity crisis. They didn't win elections because of the social conservatism, they won elections in the past by being pragmatic about the economy at a time when the opposition was not doing so.

Gingersnap
03-18-2009, 09:23 AM
How about choosing neither as a personification of the GOP? One is a fictional character and the other is to many an aspect of God.

If the GOP can become the party of the pragmatic, it would solve it's identity crisis. They didn't win elections because of the social conservatism, they won elections in the past by being pragmatic about the economy at a time when the opposition was not doing so.

This is a sensible response.

PoliCon
03-18-2009, 09:40 AM
Most religionists, for example, don’t seem to have a problem with the growth of the welfare state, as long as faith-based initiatives get a piece of the pie (as they did in the case of the Bush Administration’s “social service grants” for religious organizations, which handed out $2.2 billion in one year alone).NOT TRUE.


The religionists want to maintain and improve public schools but ensure religion has an influence on the curriculum (such as how evolution is taught), while the capitalists have tended to support things like school vouchers, which some see as a step towards privatizing education.ASLO - not true.


Capitalism upholds each individual’s right to exist for his own sake, independent from any group. Its moral foundation is rational self-interest. According to this morality, the good is the pursuit of one’s own happiness. Religion, on the other hand, implies a system where each individual exists to serve the group or greater good. Christian tradition is rife with admonishments against selfishness: “we are our brother’s keepers” is an obvious example. This sentiment represents the moral code of altruism, which holds fulfilling the needs of others as a moral imperative. The welfare state is a natural extension of this tenet. People need money, education, sanitation, transportation, etc. Under a religious (i.e. altruistic) morality, we are obligated to satisfy these needs for those unwilling or unable to do so themselves. This guy obviously doesn't understand that capitalism and protestantism grew up together - hand in hand. Further - Christianity does admonish US to be our brothers keeper. Us. NOT THE GOVERNMENT. This guy has confused the social gospel with the REAL gospel. :rolleyes:



How can one reconcile these opposing beliefs? How can one unite the religious demand to selflessly help the needy through welfare state agencies (such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) with the capitalist insistence that an individual’s primary responsibility is achieving his own well-being?a completely false dichotomy. Helping people does not require that we force people against their will to give hnad outs to people who have no interest in their own betterment - but are only interest mooching.