Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

3/15/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

One challenge faced by cultural conservatives will be the ability to articulate a worldview about human life, community, the state, the nation, and our place among other nations without eliciting someone's gag reflex or sounding a BS alarm. An authentic and true vision is what we lack in our politics, and politicians themselves have nearly ruined the word.

I wonder how many people share my gagging sensation when I hear politicians talk about their "vision." There have been politicians, notable ones, who could talk about vision convincingly, without it sounding like the last of their talking points. Vision is the opposite of a talking point. The vision of cultural conservatism must begin to address the first principles of our nation gone astray - not simply in an exercise in going back to the Founding, but in an effort to recapture the common sense of government, of what it can and cannot do.  A human right should elicit in us an aspiration of attainment, not the expectation of a hand-out.

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/15/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: culture, cultural.culture of life, civilization of love, politics, faithful citizenship, Catholics, moral coherence, rights language, declaration, Deal W. Hudson


WASHINGTON,DC  (Catholic Online) - I wonder how many people share my gagging sensation when I hear politicians talk about their "vision." There have been politicians, notable ones, who could talk about vision convincingly, without it sounding like the last of their talking points. Vision is the opposite of a talking point.

One challenge faced by cultural conservatives will be the ability to articulate a worldview about human life, community, the state, the nation, and our place among other nations without eliciting someone's gag reflex or sounding a BS alarm. An authentic and true vision is what we lack in our politics, and politicians themselves have nearly ruined the word.

The favorite vision quote of politicians in the past two decades has been Proverbs 29:18; "Where there is no vision, the people perish." In actual usage, this isolated section of the verse allows politicians to view any vision he or she wishes to espouse, without boundaries.  Proverbs 29:18, in fact, provides boundaries; the end of the verse reads, "but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."

So the vision must conform to something other than the politician's often utopian rhetoric.  True vision exists within "the law," and that is precisely where cultural conservatism will differ with liberals and post-modernists on the "vision thing."

The law in the Old Testament stands for more than the Ten Command-ments or the lost lists of rules that fill the Pentateuch. The law stands for the objective order of life, the natural law created by God in creation. The law contains that order for human life and society - the logos, or Word, stands for the order embedded throughout creation and history.

Thus, talk about vision must be governed; it cannot be disingenuous promise making, inflating expectations of entitlement, and of human happiness without in-dividual effort. Rather, the vision should focus on strengthening families, vital social institutions, and a government that understands rights as privileges to be protected by our duties. 

It's "rights" language that is mostly responsible for muddling political discussions of vision and worldview. Since the Declaration of Independence, human rights have evolved from privileges which all men and women have by nature, to entitlements which either the government or society must somehow provide. 

When you look at the broad spectrum of the rights that have become the common parlance of policy, it's hard not to notice the slippage between their traditional understanding as privileges and the con-temporary view as entitlement.  The Declaration spoke of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, all of which place obligations on each of us not to destroy or obstruct any person's exercise of those fundamental rights.

Not getting in the way of a person's exercise of a right is far removed from the obligation to provide that person, even guarantee that person, the good corresponding to the right.  In other words, we cannot guarantee a person's life, which is subject to all manner of natural dangers - or their liberty.

Persons commonly give up their liberty to embrace license, to exercise their free will wantonly.  Jefferson, thankfully, made this distinction clear when it came to happiness - the right is to the pursuit of happiness, not the capture!

Yet, most of the vision statements we hear in contemporary politics are not about these rights as privileges, as opportunities, as unfettered pursuit, but as a promise to provide the goods once obtained only by human effort and the exercise of personal responsibility. 

Since those who talk most about rights have refused to address this distinction, indeed, have papered over this distinction, the very concept of a right has become bloated beyond recognition to signifying the vague promise of a government that will satisfy all human needs and longing. 

Government cannot do that.  As President George W. Bush often said, "Government cannot love," and he was wise in reminding us of that.  Government exists in the realm of justice, not love - what we see in our bloat-ed conception of rights is a precise term made amorphous by those who treat government as in loco parentis.

The passage of Obamacare, and the promise of a single payer system just around the corner, is an ominous example of how the government more and more sees itself as the parental figure in relation to its children, the citizens. 

The vision of cultural conservatism must begin to address the first principles of our nation gone astray - not simply in an exercise in going back to the Founding, but in an effort to recapture the common sense of government, of what it can and cannot do.  A human right should elicit in us an aspiration of attainment, not the expectation of a hand-out.

© Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

-----
Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor and Movie Critic at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, is heard on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2015
Universal:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Politics & Policy

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert indicted on bank charges Watch

Image of Dennis Hastert reportedly agreed to pay this individual, who authorities did not identify, a total of $3.5 million.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Many questions continue to swirl about the indictments faced by former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert. The 73-year-old Hastert is facing bank charges brought against by federal prosecutors. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Hastert is accused of illegally ... continue reading


Has Christianity become public enemy number one? Christianity faces 'real and present danger' Watch

Image of Christians continue to fight for the traditional values that built the country.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Republican Presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio has claimed that in the United States, Christianity is facing a "real and present danger" because of the constant shifting of American values. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The growing acceptance of gay ... continue reading


Thirteen cases that will dramatically change the American way of life stand before Supreme Court Watch

Image of Heading into the final month of its annual term, the Supreme Court will need to render decisions on 13 very important cases that will dramatically affect the American way of life.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Heading into the final month of its annual term, the Supreme Court will need to render decisions on 13 very important cases that will dramatically affect the American way of life. The high court will decide whether same-sex couples have a right to marry ... continue reading


Mysterious company without assets plays role in Clinton's fortunes Watch

Image of In the meantime, the identities of several U.S. and foreign-based companies that Bill Clinton worked for have been disclosed in Hillary Clinton's recent financial report.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A mysterious company called WJC, LLC without assets or employees has been discovered in the financial files of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton. The former president has legally used the company to provide consulting and other services. This fact demonstrates ... continue reading


Obama's use of social media points to cozy relationship between White House, Silicon Valley Watch

Image of Recognized as the first American president of the social media age, Obama has already established a standard for how politicians connect with a digitally savvy electorate.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama was swept to victory in an age of tweets, Facebook, texting and social media. While this has gotten the vote out to younger members of the electorate, there are concerns that the instant gratification of the electronic age is trivializing ... continue reading


President Obama's domestic policies under heavy legal scrutiny Watch

Image of Many of President Obama's social policies may not stand up to scrutiny in a court of law.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

United States President, Barack Obama will be leaving office in January of 2017. When we consider his legacy he leaves to the nation, we must take into account that many of his domestic policies - such as those on same-sex marriage, Obamacare and immigration ... continue reading


Obama radically reformed an important American system -- and you didn't even realize it! Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While President Obama's constantly "reforms" areas of our legislation and laws, the traditional patent law has taken a hit. Although most Americans know very little and don't care very much about patent laws, the effect these changes will have on innovative America can ... continue reading


Democrats break ranks with Obama over secret trade bill Watch

Image of Senator Elizabeth, the Senior Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, is leading a bill which would force President Obama to be transparent in regards to his secret trade bill which only Congressional members may review.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama's secretive trade bill is coming under fire from some unlikely sources, namely Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Elizabeth Warren (MA), who are both leading the charge for immediate consideration of a bill that would require the contents of ... continue reading


ISIS, IRAN, OBAMACARE: President Obama's legacy - very slim indeed! Watch

Image of A very nonplussed looking president, indeed.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

United States President Barack Obama will be out of office shortly. How will historians judge him? Not too well, according to New York Post columnist John Podhoretz. "After the failure of the Arab Spring, the collapse of Libya, the failure to act on his ... continue reading


CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE? Hillary Clinton had 'Leadership, Ownership, Stewardship' of Libyan policy 'from start to finish' Watch

Image of State Department Director of Policy and Planning Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama at the U.S.-ASEAN meeting in Cambodia on Nov. 20, 2012.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to one of her top aides, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had "leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country's Libya policy from start to finish." That claim came in an email written by one of Clinton's top aides. The message was forwarded ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 44:1, 9-13
1 Next let us praise illustrious men, our ancestors ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 9
1 Alleluia! Sing a new song to Yahweh: his praise in ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 11:11-26
11 He entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple; and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 29th, 2015 Image

St. Maximinus of Trier
May 29: Bishop of Trier, Germany, from 332, and a miracle worker. He was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter