American Political Philosopher, Author, and Musician
Check the pages for updates... interesting developments coming!

The Separation of Church and State:

Conservatism’s Last Chance

December '08:

Here we are.

We’ve just had a most interesting presidential election. On the one hand, we had a candidate who was very confidently a socialist. The other wasn’t sure whether he was a socialist or a capitalist, and there’s no reason to believe he had a strong understanding of the distinction.

The socialist won.

So the question becomes: With all of the so-called “right-wing” media being so effective at getting the message out about Barack Obama’s dubious associations, his disrespect for The Constitution, and the disastrous effect of the likely impact of his presidency (If he does what he says he’s going to do), how is it that there wasn’t a landslide victory for conservatism- or at least for some faint probability of not plunging toward socialism, i.e John McCain?

Consider yourself privileged to have happened upon my unprecedented analysis:

First consider two apparently opposing concepts: Liberalism and Conservatism.

While these concepts are generally thought to represent philosophies, in current practice neither has the structure to rise to that lofty standard. These two terms are experienced as a bundle of attributes which are generally understood to belong to either one or the other party.

Liberals are generally understood to lean toward the following attributes, for example:

· They’re more likely to be “anti-war”.

· They’re more likely to want to spend tax dollars on progressive programs

· They’re more likely to be for the legalization of drugs

· They’re more likely to be for abortion rights

Conservatives are thought to have the following attributes among others:

· They’re more likely to want smaller government.

· They’re more likely to promote family values.

· They’re more likely to wage a drug war.

· They’re more likely to value faith and be religious.

But conservatism has a strange alter-ego. All of the major conservative talk radio hosts would agree with the following (or at least they’ve said as much): Conservatism is based in reason.

They literally spend all day quite reasonably showing their liberal targets lying, obfuscating, contradicting themselves, and generally not caring whether any statement or policy objective has any relation to sanity whatever. They cleverly provide irrefutable evidence that liberal positions won’t work, have failed repeatedly in the past, and will lead to disaster. And yet somehow the millions of people exposed to those educations were not able to persuade the rest of us that voting for a socialist might not be the best idea right now.

The problem is that conservatism has split-pea-brained-soup disease.

There is the stereotype through which conservatism is known by the masses. Then, there is the bastion of reason and logic as extolled by the equal-time boys and girls on talk radio.

So which is it, and why does it matter?

OK, I’m an optimist today. I’m going to take my conservative talk-show host friends at their word- I choose to believe today that conservatism is based in reason. Under that definition, I’ll call myself an honorary conservative.

This will allow me to use my powers of deduction for the conservative cause, to help define what conservatism is, therefore, not.

Many conservatives will say that conservatism is based in reason, but from another breath say that faith is a cornerstone of conservatism.

It can only be one or the other. Since we’ve agreed conservatism is based in reason, we must agree that faith is not intrinsic to conservatism.

In fact, that is obvious. There’s an enormous variety of individuals who believe in liberty and capitalism and in the power of reason in the hands of a group of such individuals. Some are Christians, some are Atheists, some are Jews, some are Deists- like Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson; Heck, they come in all colors and ancestries, and degrees of religious affiliation. They just want to be free.

But how can a person who has faith- which is anti-reason by definition- also be a conservative, since that’s reason-based? The answer is: Every conservative who is also a person of faith must know and respect the difference between reason and faith.

When conservatism is truly understood, one of its most obvious attributes is a dedication to the separation of the concepts of reason and faith, for the preservation of each. This separation is the key that allows a common area of human interaction to exist. This area of common respect for reason is the capitalist arena.

If our conservative talk show hosts want to advance the true conservative agenda, they might want to think about chastising conservatives who constantly emphasize religion and faith as attributes of conservatism, rather than as attributes of the beliefs they enjoy as free human beings. How can it help to put a stick in the eye of a hundred million Atheists, Deists, and agnostics who otherwise share your vision of a society of free individuals when your goal is to acquire more votes than your opponent?

Conservatism doesn’t depend on faith, it allows it.

Conservatism, as reason, has an agenda- the promotion of the success of human civilization. Conservatism is the philosophy that capitalism is the process through which that is best achieved. Capitalism is the idea that the natural state of humankind is individual freedom, and that economic success is based upon the freedom of the interactions of those individuals, with common protections for the rights of each.

Liberals imply the same root agenda- they imply they will make things better. Liberals can’t drill down further into the foundation of their method, however, because there’s nothing under there. Liberalism (global warming, for example) is sometimes commented on by our conservative hosts as “religion” (I believe I’ve heard Ann Coulter use that line before)

That’s probably more insightful than she or they realize, because it illustrates the weakness of having faith associated fundamentally with conservatism:

This gives the impression that conservatism and liberalism are equally unreasonable.

You may be left with the following choice-

Do you want to vote for someone who believes that the earth is a few thousand years old but says he wants to lower your property taxes, or someone who believes that the way to encourage business development is to punish people who develop business? They’re both insane.

Obviously, the less tax money in the hands of liberals is the better scenario if one has the goal of the promotion of human civilization. But the problem is that the choice has become less obvious. If both sides seem unreasonable, it’s easier to be swayed by the propaganda, since that’s all there is left. And liberals are usually better at propaganda, because deception is what comes naturally to them. This hurts the conservative cause in the voting booth.

Liberalism depends on conservatism having the appearance of absurdity, as that distraction is the only hope of obscuring its own. Barack Obama ran on the “I am not George Bush” platform. The irony is that he ran on everything that earned George Bush his abysmal approval rating. Who spent more like a liberal than George Bush?

It’s clear that Jimmy Carter, Clinton2, Maxine Waters, Barney Frank, and a long list of liberals were directly responsible, through The Community Reinvestment Act and the government sponsored entities, for the collapse of the financial system. Socialism does it every time.

But George Bush was not successful in communicating this to the American people, much less in preventing it– and I’m not sure he understood it. And so he owned the problem as another confused faithful conservative, while Barack Obama- with Fannie Mae’s lipstick on his collar- pointed the finger right at the conservatives during the debates. They must have gotten a good laugh on that one.

But it doesn’t matter because as long as conservatism looks dumb, then people have a choice between two dumb things, and that works in favor of liberalism.

Allow me to further break down the stereotypes, and further strengthen the real meaning of conservatism.

The confusion over faith as fundamental to conservatism has allowed additional erosion of the essence of conservatism. This manifests itself in strange role-reversals between liberalism and conservatism.

The most obvious of these is the stereotype regarding the prohibition of drugs. “Everybody knows” conservatives want to eradicate the illicit drug trade while liberals are seen to be much more likely to be tolerant or drug users themselves. The problem with this is the following: Based upon every true conservative principle, it is conservatism which supports the free trade and use of drugs between adult individuals. Some fundamental traits of conservatism are “individual responsibility” and “getting the government out of our lives”. How can an individual be held responsible for his actions if he’s forced through law to accept that there are substances which render him incapable of making rational decisions?

It’s completely liberal in every snake-like twist of logic to try to protect individuals from themselves at the barrel of a gun. Jefferson said “Sometimes it’s said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, but trusted with the government of others?” A true conservative must distinguish between persons who harm other people from those who don’t, regardless of their choice to use drugs. A true conservative would realize that making marijuana against the law, for example, is the same as teaching young people that marijuana use is an excuse for a lack of motivation or achievement, or for abhorrent behavior. The law therefore increases the likelihood of that behavior. It becomes a causal factor in human misery. The fact is that some people are able to recreationally use drugs or alcohol and successfully function in society without harming others. The fact is- in fact- that MOST people who choose to use drugs or alcohol are able to function successfully in society, and are productive Americans. It’s a very religious- a very liberal slant that has forced society to say that not only are the people who violate the rights of others and happen to be drug users responsible for their actions, but so are the millions of others who happen to share the trait of drug use with those criminals. This lie places the truly evil individuals behind a thick smokescreen of decent people, until it becomes more and more costly in every sense to identify and neutralize their effect on society. Jumping to obviously fallacious conclusions and demanding control over the lives of others as a result is what liberalism is all about. The drug war has liberalism stamped all over it. But confused conservatives accept the role that the liberals have provided for them, and drape that liberal wreath around their necks with pride as their agenda takes a dive among voters with brains (on drugs).

A true conservative would be the one who would hear the rapist explain that he was high on drugs at the time, and would simply respond- “not everyone who gets high earns life in prison, but you just did. See ya- not “

Conservatism, further, has no interest in whether two men or women want to pretend they’re married. Conservatives would recognize that marriage is a religious institution which cannot be recognized by government, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Either variety would be recognizable as what they really are: business agreements, i.e. civil unions. The result of this would be that marriage as an institutional union between a man and a woman would survive and thrive because of its intrinsic value, not because it’s the law of the land. Additionally, non-religious people would likely stop attempting to share in your religious tradition. That is, gay people probably wouldn’t be thinking about getting married except that you’re trying to tell them through government that they can’t. True conservatives wouldn’t hasten the demise of their own institutions by forcing the disinterested to recognize and ridicule them. Freedom doesn’t mean you get to have a respectful audience for the expressions of your tradition, it just means you can stage the play.

Some might say what I envision is libertarian, but that’s not the case. It’s conservative. Libertarians apparently don’t know that sometimes fighting is required in the preservation of freedom. And if they do, then they are truly conservatives.

Conservatives need to take a long, hard look at John McCain, because that’s your mirror. Do you know if you’re a capitalist or a socialist? Do you believe that reasonable human beings freely interacting is the source of economic security, or that human beings should be assigned roles by a smarter subset of human beings, for the betterment of all? Do you think a man should be judged on the basis of his public actions, or should he suffer a witch-hunt for private behaviors? Do you think a law can be made that isn’t based on strict foundation of reason?

Conservatism is the conservation of the principles of capitalism. Conservatism is the principle that free people will gravitate toward peaceful interaction, and toward mutual benefit through reasonable behavior.

This is a strange time in American history, however. I would say that what we’re seeing today was predicted in my book “The Answers to All the World’s Problems” so vividly that it was prophetic, but actually it was just math. We have the collapse of the financial system of the United States of America as served to us on a silver platter (paid for by us) by Liberals. And now we have the only major movement opposing them not recognizing what really sets them apart. Liberals have control of them like marionettes, having them waste time on petty squabbles over whether a couple of gays can call themselves married. The liberals chose their presidential candidate for them. Conservatives allow liberals to paint their entire movement with the faith brush when the faithful are but a small subset of the people who want liberals to “fix” some other galaxy. There are millions of young voters out there who don’t know much in this world, but they do know that they don’t trust religion. And so the liberals frighten them by suggesting that conservatives don’t believe in a separation of church and state. And the conservatives take their end of the argument and wrap another liberal albatross around their collar.

Here’s something the conservative talk show hosts have never considered- In a true separation of church and state society, the liberals wouldn’t stand a chance. Reason would be the basis of law, and thus no liberal law could pass the test. And what would conservatives have to give up for this paradise? They would yield nothing other than that which was not intrinsic to conservatism to begin with. The faithful would remain faithful, the people who value marriage will be married, and people who deserve to be arrested will be arrested. This is not a battle between the secularists and the traditionalists, as one dumb person with gay body language opines, but between the sane and the insane. This is a time for the conservative movement to embrace those who don’t accept revealed religion, and people who cannot accept the liberal drug war. It’s time for the great variety of individuals who value freedom to set aside the immaterial difference of how one might spend one’s time if one is allowed the freedom to choose it, and settle on the common goal of securing that choice.

In short, Liberalism has always been the marriage of religion and politics. Conservatism has always been the separation of religion and politics. Conservatism is synonymous with the separation of church and state, even as the movement’s most vocal proponents seem to believe the separation of church and state is an enemy of conservatism. If the movement can change this stereotype, it will dominate and thrive.



The cover of the published version of my original manuscript

Copyright ©  2008    The American Tarot     all rights reserved