WHEN DID THE conversation become all about money? It didn’t start out that way. Sure, we wanted to evoke the Founding Fathers and the American Revolutionary spirit, so we thought of the Boston Tea Party, and the Taxed Enough, Already, movement got started.
But it wasn’t really about money. It was about Good and Evil.
When the discussion was about Good and Evil, we knew who we were. We were the good guys. Our rallies were famous for lawn chairs, portable barbecues, funny hats and relaxed attitudes.
When the speakers were finished, they would more than likely pull up a chair under somebody’s sun shade and share a hamburger. In the midst of almost total governmental darkness, we laughed and joked and shook hands all the way to a House majority and a filibusterable Senate.
Then it got grim.
Somehow, it always gets grim. Conservatives are distinguished for being decent people, and far too often this leads us into talking about what the other guy wants to talk about. The result is that the other guy gets to dominate the conversation.
The other guy, this time around (and pretty much always), is mammon.
“Mammon,” too-often translated simply, “money,” is more than money: it is the secular world system of money-driven power. It is the system that regards, “it makes money,” as a moral statement, and thereby subordinates morality to the profit motive. It is the system that opposes God, because God tends to get in our way.
God tells us we cannot serve both Him and mammon (Matthew 6:24). The reason for that is that, if we serve God, everything—including the profit motive—is subordinated to morality. And not just any old morality, not a morality that we make up for ourselves, but Godly morality: the sort that holds the integrity of the family—every family—sacred, and sees human beings—all human beings—as living icons of Christ, however scarred those icons might be. Godly morality proclaims the dignity and the intended Divine destiny of man, and hence the inestimable value of every life.
If we reduce all of that to “fiscal responsibility,” we find ourselves, albeit inadvertently, playing the opposition’s game, on the opposition’s field, with the opposition’s borrowed equipment.
So, how’s that working for us?
Where is that easy-going good nature the TEA Party movement started with? Where is that ebullient confidence we all had, that came from being part of something not just logical and sensible, but Right—not as in Right and Left, but as in Right and Wrong. When did our determined optimism turn to angry defensiveness?
When did we start losing?
I think it was when we began to redefine “patriotism,” away from preserving our Godly and moral culture and toward preserving our bankroll.
The result is that we’re beginning to look just like the Left. “Our” media are all full of “scare-selling,” to try to get our attention (and sell us protection against The Inevitable Disaster), supermarket-tabloid scandal-mongering, (as if that were the only way to hold our interest) and nasty, even profane blather on our discussion groups.
This isn’t how we started. This isn’t how we won. This is how we started losing.
We need to get back to saying what we want to say, our way, in our words, without embarrassment and without letting the Left set the rules for the conversation.
Recently, a conservative conference was announced. Some didn’t want to have anything to do with the moral conversation, so it split into two “conservative” conferences. I frankly hope no-one attends the “fiscal-only” conference, because we just don’t need any more selling-out to mammon.
America has never been an immoral nation. It has never been an amoral nation. It has never been an atheistic nation. It has been a Christian nation for its entire life, until the Left sucker-pinched us in the 60’s and began to dominate the cultural conversation. If we are truly conservative Americans, we will work to rebuild the country that became the greatest nation on earth, and we will stop caving in to the demands of the Left that we join them in tearing down the moral foundation upon which our every strength—including our fiscal strength—was built.