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'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Deal with the Devil or practical politics? Is there a pro-life case for Bernie Sanders? Watch

Image of Would a pro-life strategy that involves Bernie Sanders be a deal with the devil, or a practical strategy?

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A lot of Catholics like Bernie Sanders. Recently, we saw an outpouring of support of the candidate in the comments under an excellent article written by Deacon Keith Fournier. Many Catholics appreciate Sander's stance on social issues - after all, he is a democratic ... continue reading


CURTAIN CALLED: GOP debate starts hilariously as candidates fail to appear on cue Watch

Image of When candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush's names were announced, the two men were still blocking their way. Sneaking past, Jeb grinned and bumped Donald Trump. Photo courtesy of ABC News.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

It is a bit trivial to say about such an important event - but the GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire this weekend could have done with a bit more rehearsal. Candidate Ben Carson came out too early, Donald Trump stood with Carson, and candidates Marco ... continue reading


'Faith is the great cure for fear': Obama speaks at annual National Prayer Breakfast in WA Watch

Image of At the annual National Prayer Breakfast, Obama spoke against Muslim stereotypes and hatred (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

During the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, President Barack Obama spoke of God, fear and love. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - At the breakfast, both Democrats and republicans set aside their differences to build relationships based on their ... continue reading


After Iowa fail, Donald Trump vows to 'beat the ____ out of ISIS' Watch

Image of Many noted that Donald Trump seemed unusually subdued in New Hampshire. He claimed that he remained optimistic after his second place finish in the Iowa primary. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

While he faced defeat in the Iowa caucuses, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump was full of his usual bluster in New Hampshire. Never one to mince words, he vowed to "beat the ___ out of ISIS" if he was elected president. LOS ANGELS, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


'Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it': Trump furiously rants on Twitter about Cruz's win demanding a new Iowa 'election' Watch

Image of Donald Trump calls for a new election or to nullify Cruz's results (Reuters).

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

When news of the Cruz campaign "mistake" concerning Ben Carson at the Iowa caucus reached Donald Trump, he was furious. The business tycoon took to Twitter to call for a new election or to nullify Cruz's results. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Despite his initial ... continue reading


Republican Candidate Drops Out of Presidential Race: But who was it? Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Following a disappointing show in the Iowa caucus, with only 4.5 percent of the votes, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has officially dropped out of the 2016 presidential race. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "It's been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign ... continue reading


Political sabotage: Ted Cruz pleads GUILTY to wronging Ben Carson at Iowa caucus Watch

Image of Ted Cruz admitted his campaign started the lie that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race prior to the Iowa caucus (NY Times).

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In a shocking admission, Ted Cruz admits his staff spread rumors of Ben Carson dropping out of the runnings just before the Iowa caucus voting began. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As previously reported, the Iowa caucus was filled with surprises that included ... continue reading


A Night of Surprises: What went down during the Iowa caucuses? Watch

Image of Iowa caucus surprises with historical neck-and-neck race and Trump in second place.

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Iowa caucus results are in after a high-energy night fueled by rumors of foul-play, coin tosses and the waning smile of a smug Trump. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Before the Iowa caucus, polls showed presidential hopeful Donald Trump as the leading ... continue reading


Trump leading in polls as he thanks Iowa's evangelicals Watch

Image of Donald Trump has cut Sen. Ted Cruz's advantage with evangelicals, according to a CBS News poll. (Jim Young, Reuters)

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

As the Iowa caucuses heat up, executive Donald Trump has shown a strong lead over Ted Cruz in recent opinion polls. Trump took time to thank evangelical Christians for their support. In the meantime, Hillary Clinton maintains a thin lead over Bernie Sanders in ... continue reading


Whoa! Secret Microsoft algorithm predicts wins for Clinton, Trump in Iowa and beyond Watch

Image of Computerized predictions are big business, both at the sports book and in politics.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are predicted to win tonight's Iowa caucuses according to a sophisticated algorithm used by Microsoft's Bing search engine to predict outcomes. The search engine has an excellent record. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Microsoft ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • 10 important things to consider during Lent
  • Daily Reading for Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 HD Video
  • Can you answer these four challenging questions about Lent?
  • MAKE YOURSELF COUNT! Complete this quick Ash Wednesday survey
  • St. Apollonia: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, February 09, 2016
  • Stations of the Cross - Series HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 8:22-23, 27-30
22 Then, in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, Solomon stood ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5, 10, 11
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a nest to place its ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 7:1-13
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 9th, 2016 Image

St. Apollonia
February 9: St. Apollonia, who died in the year 249, was ... Read More