Military power hinges on technology, not war like spirit or numerical advantage. Thus, military power comes and goes.
Economic power turns on an odd mixture of resources, conservation, consumer confidence and plain dumb luck. Economic power comes and goes.
Looking at the military-industrial complex two centuries ago, John Stuart Mill assumed political power was necessarily more important than the other two combined. In fact, Mill concluded, "…political power is the only security against all forms of repression…" as he wrote in his book The Subjection of Women.
Political power is the means by which the Southern Baptist Convention has been turned far right into a Fundamentalist powerhouse. In this case the use of political power does the work of repression rather than lift repression. Petty skirmishes within the national body, such as Richard Land decrying the recent stance of SBC leaders on global warming as "not an SBC led initiative" matters very little because the political apparatus is in place to hold power.
The neo-conservative reactionary forces within the national convention of baptist Christians is not the social conservatism I argue for earlier in this book length look at the future of American political and religious life. In fact, the reactionary forces within Fundamentalism make up the cynosure of the destruction of American conservatism.
Simply put, conservatism (not conservation) as a political force in American religion and politics is on the wane. Its proponents, like Limbaugh and Hannity, reduce conservative thought to schtick. To the fore rush old-style Moderate Republican figures, like John McCain, a solid patriot deserving of respect but hardly a Reagan Republican. With the recent death of William Buckley the American conservative movement is without an eloquent spokesperson, Ann Coulter’s shrill polemics notwithstanding.
The first twenty-five years of the 21st century may serve, then, as a bridge period between the death of conservatism as viable political force and a return to old-style Liberalism, with attendant pain for all those deeply entrenched in conservatism. That is, the neo-cons in the baptist Christian world may get whiplash adjusting their line of vision.
Old Style Liberalism is the liberalism of power prior to the disfigurement of socialism. In fact, socialism is anathema to an old-style liberal. Franklin Roosevelt came to the presidency insisting on a balanced budget, a strong defense and no entangling foreign alliances. Circumstances changed his political libretto from static to dynamic.
John Kennedy took office as the coldest of Cold Warriors, intent on the defeat of Communism through a strong economy and a powerful, resolute military. Romantic historians revise history to make Kennedy wise enough to avoid escalation in Viet Nam but there is no empirical evidence he would have been willing to enter history as the president who lost Indo-China.
Kennedy’s economic plan? He cut taxes across the board to stimulate the economy. He put an absolute ceiling on the national budget, back when presidents could undertake such measures on the strength of the office.
Pluralism, the head on collision of opposing moral forces in the world, might require multiple mediators. Old-Style Liberalism has something to offer quite because it is issue-oriented rather than interest-oriented. Unlike failed Socialism, Old Style Liberalism can be both generous and responsible. The coming return to Old Style Liberalism jumps back past the mad Socialism of Marx and Lenin and even beyond the Radical Nihilism set in certain elements of the French Revolution. Old Style Liberalism is the steady hand of the American Founding Parents. Yes, I know we call them the Founding Fathers but check out how much Abigail Adams influenced her husband. They were our parents, not just our fathers.
OSLs (Old Style Liberals) do not philosophically insist liberty is rights-based but do insist on legal rights as protection for all. The true OSL involves himself/herself in issues, while a neo-con fundamentalist sees only interests.
The OSL has his share of dilemmas. The OSL must set himself on moderation for he cannot resolve or even confront all issues. He must show courage because his stance on issues will insult even some of those who share his interests. He must inure himself to loss because every choice he makes shuts him off from a choice he might make.
The OSL American Liberal believes government is a rascal. He builds a big wall between his government and his family, his finances, his property and his church. He watches this big wall carefully, repairing any chinks before they open into gaps. The OSL pulls others over the wall as soon as he can, so slaves, women, children and immigants, the old, the poor and the weak, have protection from the culture.
The OSL looks at all the ancient, near ancient, modern and post-modern value systems. He compares Christian mercy to Roman virtue and decides for mercy, the more generous proposition. In so doing, he casts a wary eye at a standing military force because he rejects the Roman set of virtues making the state the highest authority and death for the state the highest good. The OSL accepts the worth of ancient value systems for their day but may find them, in whole or in part, unacceptable for other ages and locales.
The OSL American sees Socialism as a distortion of various ancient and modern value systems. The OSL American sees Pilgrims willing to sail across a violent ocean as he sees Southern immigrants willing to swim a dirty river. That is, the pilgrim and southern immigrant envy the liberal, American system of protection for the individual over against the interests of the economically or militarily empowered.
The coming return to OSL Americanism may not be the worst thing that could happen to us.