The Imploding Conservative Movement

From 1980s until the 2000s, conservative Christians hitched their wagons to the Republican party and the broader conservative movement, which was about cultural preservation and personal freedom – free markets being an essential part of that freedom. It seems that the free market part has eaten up the other two, and all we are stuck with is libertarianism.

American conservatism is facing a crisis similar to what liberalism faced in the 70s: raucous internal divisions and radicals favoring passion over intelligence. Just as liberalism never recovered from the 70s – liberalism is a morally and intellectually exhausted project which has been replaced by the exhumed corpse of 1920s progressivism mixed with some fossil remains of Marx – American conservatism looks dead as a living movement, though it might stumble along for a few more decades as libertarianism.

Which is a shame because Conservative ideas – those of thinkers like Edmund Burke and Russel Kirk – are as alive and important as ever. The problem is that the culture that people like Kirk were trying to explain and preserve is fast fading away.

Conservative Christians are in a similar position today as Liberal Christians must have found themselves forty years ago. Back then the problem was this: if the whole point of Christianity is to be a good liberal, then why be a Christian? That is, once you have reduced the Gospel to social welfare, the Gospel is superfluous. You don’t need to believe in God to believe in Universal Healthcare.

Now Conservative Christians who got too caught up in the label are looking around and asking themselves, if being Christian means being Conservative, why should I want to be Christian?

This development was probably inevitable, and part of the nature of politics. Right now the proper questions is: how can I, a Christian, separate myself from the poisonous strains of American politics? What are the ideologies I believe in that, if I really think about it, are incompatible with my faith? What steps do I take to follow the criteria of Christ, and not those of the world?


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