Monday, March 11, 2024

The new right-wing leftists

 A lot of my writing inspiration comes from my journeys around that Al Gore-created miracle of modern technology, the interwebs. That was the case again over the weekend when I ran into a post by a former Daily Wire reporter and current Lead Editor at the Republic Sentinel, Ben Zeisloft.

Zeisloft reminded me how much the political landscape has changed in a few short years. I’ve said more than once that we are undergoing a political realignment. As it turns out, Donald Trump, Jr. agrees with me.

brown brick wall with no smoking sign
Photo by Alison Pang on Unsplash

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Speaking on Newsmax, Don Jr. said, “That Republican Party no longer exists outside of the DC beltway…. People have to understand that MAGA is the new Republican Party. That is conservatism today.”

We see that truth on many issues ranging from foreign policy and national defense where Republicans are increasingly isolationist and protectionist. The MAGA indifference and even outright hostility to allies such as Ukraine, NATO, and even Taiwan and Israel is well-established but less known is Trump’s plan to reignite the trade wars with a 10-percent tariff on all imported goods if he is returned to office. Trump’s first round of tariffs represented one of the largest tax increases in decades and led directly to a manufacturing recession that cost thousands of jobs and required massive bailouts for farmers.

There was a disconnect in Republican circles between income taxes, which they hate, and tariffs, which many of them love. But tariffs are just another form of tax and despite claims that China and other countries were paying the tariffs, the reality is that tariffs, like any other tax, are paid by the end user. In the case of tariffs, that would be American consumers who buy imported products and American businesses who need imported components or raw materials for their goods.

The common ground between noninterventionism/isolationism and protectionism is that these philosophies were leftist points of view in my formative political years. It was always the Democrats who were trying to get America to abandon people fighting for freedom or to look the other way at Russian aggression. To a great extent, the parties have reversed on these issues. I wrote about this in a bit more detail a few weeks ago when I discussed how the MAGA right sounds a lot like the old peacenik left that Rush Limbaugh used to call the “Blame America First Crowd.”

There are other similarities between the MAGA right and the left as well. That brings me to Ben Zeisloft. Over the weekend, I noticed a long-form post by Zeisloft on the platform formerly known as Twitter. I’ll repeat the entire post here:

I have no problem forcing my beliefs on others.

Because I am a Christian:

I believe preborn babies should be protected from murder and born children should be protected from mutilation, and I am willing to support laws banning both accordingly.

I believe sodomy is an abomination, and I am willing to support laws banning same-sex mirage.

I believe IVF and abortifacient birth control disregard the image of God in man, and I am willing to support laws banning both.

I believe our flippant divorce system is a culturally destructive travesty, and I am willing to support laws banning no-fault divorce, except for adultery, abuse, and abandonment.

I believe pornography is a scourge, and I am willing to support laws banning pornography.

I will only force my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ on you in the sense that I will plead with you to repent, flee from the wrath to come, and believe in his name for forgiveness, life, and peace.

But the state is an institution which God has ordained to be his servants, to be a terror to the evildoer and a rewarder of the one who does good. There should certainly be a separation of church and state in that both have distinct mandates in serving God, but there should never be a separation of God and state.

Because I am a Christian, if you continue in your rebellion, I will love my neighbors and honor my God by calling on the state to protect their lives and our civilization from your madness.

This is Christian Nationalism. At its core, it is both un-American and unchristian. It is also Big Government in priestly robes.

You might like a lot of what Zeisloft proposes. I’m a Christian and on a moral and ethical level, I agree with quite a few of his goals. However, if you think about what he’s proposing, there are a lot of problems.

First, many of Zeisloft’s points are not based on accepted Christian doctrine. For example, when it comes to in vitro fertilization, there are Christians on both sides of the issue.

What gives Zeisloft the right to impose his version of Christianity on Christians who believe differently? Which Christian denomination gets the final say? I’m guessing not one of the liberal ones. Was Ben Zeisloft elected as the American pope and I missed it? Why should nonchristians - or Christians of different denominations - stand by while Zeisloft and his cohorts attempt to impose their version of a theological utopia on the country?

The answer, of course, is that they wouldn’t. Americans are not going to let a minority religious faction crack down on personal freedoms like a modern-day Oliver Cromwell. But Zeisloft and his cronies have an answer for that as well.

meme shared by Zeisloft gives a clue as to their strategy. The meme is a biblical allusion to the story in the book of Daniel in which Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship a golden idol of King Nebuchadnezzar and were thrown into a fiery furnace as punishment. If you’ve ever been to Sunday School, you’ve heard the story. If you haven’t, stop now and flip to Daniel Chapter Three. I won’t spoil it for you and I’ll wait.

In the meme, the golden statue is labeled “Democracy” and has three flags and a syringe on it. The flags are the gay rainbow flag, one that I didn’t recognize but that turned out to be a trans flag, and the Ukrainian flag. The syringe is obviously meant to symbolize vaccines. This isn’t a biblical list of abominations, but is more of a list of “Things Christian Nationalists Don’t Like.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are labeled as “Christian Nationalists,” and the caption to the tweet reads, “Democracy is a sacred idol that must be torn down.”

Screenshot from @smashbaals on Twitter, retweeted by @benzeisloft

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Folks, as I‘ve said before, when they tell you what they want to do, believe them.

This is a blatant call to overturn America’s democratic institutions and replace them with a Zeisloft-approved theocratic regime. It rarely ends well when a minority attempts to force its will on the majority.

That’s the unamerican part.

[For what it’s worth, I did look at both Zeisloft’s account and the @smashbaals Christian Nationalist account that originally posted the meme to make sure that they weren’t satire pages. My rule of thumb is that if it sounds too stupid to be true, it probably is, but that rule is increasingly obsolescent these days. In this case, both pages seem to be what they say they are.]

The unchristian part is that this is not what the Bible tells us to do. I can’t find anywhere in my Bible that says to go forth and make laws to make the unbelievers adhere to Christian principles.

Biblical teaching on the issue seems to run counter to what Zeisloft preaches. Jesus was offered political power but refused it. Spoiler alert: The offer of power was actually a temptation directly from Satan.

Where Jesus did provide instruction on how Christians should interact with unbelievers, he said to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” which he called the second-greatest commandment, and to “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Jesus put these lessons into practice by sitting down and socializing with the dregs of his society: Tax collectors, prostitutes, and Samaritans. While Jesus might have lectured them in at least some cases, he didn’t try to force them to do his will. He always showed up with love.

Christian Nationalists are fond of pointing out that Jesus got violently angry. But what they fail to see is that Jesus’s righteous anger wasn’t focused on unsaved sinners. In Matthew 21, Jesus aimed his anger at the grifters who were profiting off those who came to worship at the temple. In other passages, Jesus condemned the hypocritical religious leaders who concentrated on publicly keeping the letter of religious law without exhibiting God’s love.

One of the things that the Pharisees, the religious leaders of Jesus’s day, did wrong was to keep adding their own amendments to God’s law. If this sounds familiar, it reminds me a lot of Christian Nationalists unilaterally deciding that things like vaccines and support for Ukraine are sinful.

Christians are fond of saying that Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship. That’s true, and Zeisloft misses that point completely. He and the other Christian Nationalists are reducing Christianity to a set of rules, many of their own making. But following the rules doesn’t bring salvation and following Christ has to be a personal choice rather than a response to a government mandate.

What Zeisloft and the Christian Nationalists are proposing is a theological version of the leftist vision of the nanny state, another something that conservatives used to be against. It may be with the best of intentions that people try to force good choices on their fellow countrymen, but what happens when the country does not want to comply? Government power is always based on the use of force and the ultimate answer is that dissidents will be persecuted for their own good.

As Christian author C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of Earth.”

What the proponents of nanny states on both sides of the political spectrum fail to grasp is that freedom must include the freedom to fail on one’s own terms. If you aren’t free to make bad decisions then you aren’t truly free. Often, failure is how we learn and grow.

The omnipotent moral busybodies may have the nation’s best interests at heart, but Americans are proud and individualistic people. We don’t like to be told what to do and will often do the opposite or fight back out of spite when we are given orders. That’s true even if the orders are in our best interests.

So yes, there is a political realignment going on. In some areas in which Republicans are abandoning traditional conservatism, Democrats are adopting conservative positions. These include maintaining strong alliances and helping allies to defend themselves against Russia, China, and Islamic terrorists.

In other areas, however, neither party is going to represent traditional conservative principles as the new right-wing leftists complete their takeover of the Republican Party. Both parties are now unashamed advocates of Big Government and are quite happy to restrict the rights of the other side when the mood strikes. Increasingly, the New Right is indistinguishable from the Old Left in many respects.

One of the worst aspects of the ongoing political shift is the growth of Christian Nationalism. Further politicizing Christianity is not going to be good for the country, conservatives, or the church.

From the Racket News

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