Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

3/15/2014 (2 years 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 (2 years 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.

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for DECEMBER 2016
Universal:
End to Child-Soldiers: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Evangelization: Europe: That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

'I will kill you all' -- Trump chooses Mad Dog Mattis as Sec. of Defense Watch

Image of General Mattis will be the next Secretary of Defense.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

President-elect Donald Trump has selected General James "Mad Dog" Mattis as the next Secretary of Defense. The Marine Corps general will be formerly announced on Monday. General Mattis has a reputation as a scholar and a fighter and is very popular with the troops. LOS ... continue reading


Why Catholics support Trump's pick for the next Secretary of Health and Human Services Watch

Image of Tom Price med with pro-life applause.

By Matt Hadro (CNA/EWTN News)

Pro-life groups praised President-elect Donald Trump's announcement that he would name Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - "In particular, Rep. Price's strong pro-life values and record to ... continue reading


The next House minority leader will be a pro-abortion Catholic, HERE'S WHY Watch

Image of

By Catholic News Agency

When the Democratic Party makes its decisions about leadership at the end of the month, the House Minority Leader will be a self-proclaimed "pro-choice Catholic." Washington D.C. (CNA) - Both current House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, and her challenger, Rep. Tim ... continue reading


Planned Parenthood smugly reports surge in donations - so they don't need your tax dollars anymore, right? Watch

Image of Shown: The 'I lie for a living' starter pack.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Trolls have sent over 200,000 donations to Planned Parenthood in Vice President-elect Mike Pence's name. The movement is an attempt to protest the possible defunding of the organization under a Trump-Pence administration. Mike Pence has taken a hard line against the ... continue reading


Now the hard work begins! Watch

Image of

By Tony Magliano

For those of us using the Gospel and Catholic social teaching as our voting guide, choosing between the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates was an absolute dilemma.    Hillary Clinton's hawkish military attitude, like her vote to authorize ... continue reading


How will Trump deal with the UN? Don't look to his campaign promises -- look to how he views himself Watch

Image of Get rid of the ugly green marble slab. That'd be an improvement.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

What will Donald Trump do to the UN? So far, there is considerable speculation and few details. Reporters are trying to dig up his old remarks to get some sense of how Trump will deal with the U.N. and the many international crises the country faces. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Already great! Trump bans lobbyists, to meet with Japan PM, GOP warned to expect 'sweeping legislation' Watch

Image of Goodbye lobbyists!

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Donald Trump continues to work harder than most presidents in history, and he hasn't even taken office yet. Today, his team continues to work on their transition while meeting with foreign officials, taking phone calls from dignitaries, and Trump announcing a lobbying ... continue reading


Catholic Coalition of Advisors finds Trump listens well to Catholic concerns Watch

Image of Secretary Jim Nicholson said he thinks Trump is a good listener and will do well.

By Marshall Connolly, (California Network)

According to the Catholic Coalition of Advisors and others, Donald Trump has been a "very good listener" when it comes to Catholic concerns. Deacon Keith Fournier, Editor-in-Chief of Catholic Online, is a member of this advisory board. LOS ANGELES, CA (California ... continue reading


GET OUT! Donald Trump to deport 2-3 million criminal aliens Watch

Image of President -elect Donald Trump pledged to deport two million illegal criminal aliens as soon as he takes office.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Donald Trump said he plans to deport millions of illegal immigrants as soon as he is president. He made the remarks on 60 Minutes which aired on Sunday. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - President-elect Donald Trump is ready to deport between two and three million ... continue reading


Disintegration! Desperate Democrats may appoint Liberal Muslim as party chair Watch

Image of Democrats may appoint liberal Muslim Keith Ellison as their next party chair.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Democrats may be preparing to elect a Muslim from the Midwest as their next party chairperson. Rep. Keith Ellison, who is a Muslim, is gaining support from the liberal left of the Democratic Party. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The Democrats are in a tailspin. ... 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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 11:1-10
1 A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse, a new shoot will grow from ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
1 [Of Solomon] God, endow the king with your own fair judgement, the son ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 3:1-12
1 In due course John the Baptist appeared; he proclaimed this message in ... Read More

Reading 2, Romans 15:4-9
4 And all these things which were written so long ago were written so ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 4th, 2016 Image

St. John of Damascus
December 4: Saint John Damascene has the double honor of ... Read More