by Andrew Oleksiw
Do you ever wonder why Democratic politicians frequently resort to name calling when challenging Republicans? Why do the so-called mainstream media always seem to have the same anti-Republican talking points? Why are Republican judges consistently portrayed as evil? Why do progressive commentators and democratic policy makers always seem to “talk down” to their conservative opponents?
Alternatively, does it seem odd that most Republican politicians and conservative speakers often try to portray their arguments as policy disagreements and their opponents as “good people” with “differing views”? Republicans and most mainstream conservative pundits generally answer policy questions directly. They try to show respect and yield to opposing points when they make sense. Republicans in general just want to argue for practical solutions to problems.
The reason for this is simple: the Democratic Party over time has embraced an all-encompassing ideology that governs the way their politics and quest for power are shaped. All Democratic politicians and their pundits embrace at least some key aspects of this ideology. This fact is not readily apparent to everyone because Americans are not inclined to over-intellectualize politics. Most Americans view government and politics as a means of enacting the best common-sense policies to govern their daily lives. Each issue is viewed on its merits and Americans often split policy allegiance between Republican and Democratic ideas. Republican politicians subscribe to this concept as well, frequently supporting individual Democratic policies or at least trying for a compromise if the Democratic policies appear to have some stand-alone merit. Unfortunately, this is increasingly a losing proposition because they are fighting against a unified ideology bent on reshaping our constitution and imposing a totalitarian worldview. Democrats and the Left believe that the future is the collective and the collective is guided by an intellectual ruling class.
Some Republicans actually believe that having a fully formed ideology is counter-productive and can lead to evil. Jordan Peterson—a Canadian philosopher whose ideas have found favor among American Republicans—actually states in his new book Beyond Order that “Ideology is Dead.” He further states that “the bloody excesses of the 20th century killed it.”
Unfortunately while the “bloody excesses” killed various right-wing ideologies, leftist progressive ideologies simply morphed into a “superbug” that learned from what brought down the old communist regimes and created new mechanisms to insure its future growth. Leftist ideas and power continue to grow and adapt in the western democracies by the insidious take over of the media, educational system, and popular culture. Without having an ideological base to fall back on, Republican and conservatives will eventually be overwhelmed and destroyed. What the Right needs is a formally stated framework of ideas and principles that allows for the growth and adoption of new ideas but still retains the ability to preserve core values and traditions that are grounded in the past.
The Neo-Marxist Left
Over the last several decades the American progressive Left has developed a comprehensive Neo-Marxist ideology which has been successfully propagated across elite groups and the intelligentsia” in the United States. As argued by Mark Levin in his book American Marxism, proponents of this ideology have indoctrinated the higher education system, the media, and the leadership elements of the Democratic Party. They have also co-opted the intellectuals of other groups, primarily marginalized groups such as low-income racial minorities and LGBT groups who feel constrained by the existing norms and values of American society.
The ideology has appeal and staying power, particularly among the young, because it has an all-encompassing worldview that provides “feel good” talking points and a path to man-made salvation. By clearly but simplistically articulating what is “good” and “evil,” the ideology makes it easier for different factions to coalesce around key points providing a unified opposition to contrary ideas. It also provides a path to power, “safety,” and peer approval because it easily permits “virtue signaling” to gain status within the group even if individuals do not really act on the ideological values. That is why hypocrisy appears so evident to conservatives when examining the policy views of prominent leftist politicians.
Republican politicians and conservative thought leaders do not really have a unified worldview. This creates a weak policy stance against their leftist opponents and makes it difficult to appeal to broader sectors of the American public, especially younger generations. In fact, many Republicans pride themselves on not being ideological, acting on policy disagreements only from a pragmatic standpoint.
While most Republicans and conservatives adhere to some basic tenets, such as free enterprise and an originalist view of the Constitution, there is wide divergence in the underlying beliefs of libertarians, evangelical Christians, secular global capitalists, practical small business owners, and other groups. There is often more opposition and hatred among these groups than against the Democrats.
The erosion of the Judeo-Christian value system among substantial portions of secular Republican leaders has destroyed the glue that once subconsciously held the party together and has now left the party without a truly comprehensive value and belief system. This lack of an underlying system of belief allows Republican views and policies to be picked off, piecemeal. Without a strong moral-political framework of ideas and principles, Republicans ultimately will be overwhelmed and the new progressive Left ideology will become the new norm governing American culture and policies.
Many intellectuals of the Right will challenge this by saying, “We do have an ideology; it is called conservatism.” The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of conservatism is: “a commitment to traditional values and ideas with opposition to change or innovation.” Republicans, however, do not clearly articulate which traditional values are sacred and should not be changed, and which can be modified by rational innovation. More importantly, simply intoning “traditional values” has limited appeal to college-educated youth and others who want a hopeful vision for the future that goes beyond mindlessly preserving the past.
Some Republicans even argue they are the heirs of “true” liberalism. Both parties argue that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights encompass the basic tenets of a democratic liberal ideology. What made “democratic liberalism” an effective ideology in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, however, was the underpinning of Judeo-Christian morality and the belief in natural law and natural rights. As more and more secularization crept into American and Western culture, the concept of natural rights bestowed by a Creator, along with other religious underpinnings, have eroded.
The superior principles of the Judeo-Christianity value system rest on the concept of a Creator, an afterlife, and a providential order that shapes desirable human activities on earth. Purely secular ideologies do not share these concepts. Their concept of rational order is entirely based on human intelligence and actions. Whether it is fascism, communism, Jacobinism, or pure libertarianism, proponents of these “isms” believe that human actions should only be shaped by humans themselves. A society created only by human will has the right to bestow or take away rights and privileges enjoyed by other humans living within that society. There are no natural rights of man and the individual can only be viewed as a part of the greater society. In essence these “isms” transform the ruling political and intellectual class into living gods who can impose any rule of human conduct they argue is beneficial.
It is the “enlightened” elite in these societies who set the rules, not the population as a whole. While the concepts of equity and justice for all are professed, these ideologies revert to a “dictatorship of the masses” (“the proletariat” under pure Marxism) until the society is transformed into an ideal perfect state—which means de facto rule by “the party.” Unfortunately, history has shown us that whether it was the French Directorate after the revolution, Mussolini’s fascist republic, or the various forms of post-World War II communist governments, states ruled by these ideologies, regardless of “good intentions,” eventually become bankrupt tyrannies that oppress and impoverish their people. The historical reality is that the ideal perfect state is never achieved and new oppressive laws are endlessly instituted to change societal behavior in the name of future equity.
A new credible Republican ideology must be forward looking and appeal to the idealism of America’s youth. Republicans can not simply say “our founders got it right—let’s not change.” Instead, they need to base their ideology on a clear agenda for building a more secure and prosperous future.
A New Republican Ideology
Republicans should explicitly ground this ideology in natural law and the inalienable rights of man. Natural law principles will reinvigorate the founding precepts of the American Constitution, explicitly differentiate Republicans from the Left, and inspire not only new generations of Americans but the rest of the world. For the sake of this article, let’s call this ideology “Natural Law Liberalism.”
Natural right, or grounding justice in human nature, first gained traction as a philosophical concept and political idea among the ancient Greek philosophers, especially Aristotle. While not specifically believing in an omnipotent Creator-God, Aristotle argued for a cosmic “intelligence” that governed how the universe functioned and established guidance for political life among civilized people. These concepts eventually came to include individual rights that governed how people should live and interact within society, and could not be infringed by political laws or regulations. Christian philosophers such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas further developed these concepts until they became accepted tenets within Western political thought.
The inalienable rights of man recognized in America’s Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights are the best modern example of a political system based on natural law. The rights to individual “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” come from the Judeo-Christian beliefs that under God all men are created equal, that we have free will to choose between good and evil, and that human beings have the freedom and responsibility to govern our own lives and society. The Constitution guaranteed the rights of free speech, free press, freedom of religion, and the right to personal property. These rights must constantly be reinforced and supported by the notion that government actions should not impinge on them, because they are sacred.
The belief in God helps limit man’s hubris and arrogance by underscoring man’s flaws and insignificance compared with God our Creator. The progressive Left over the centuries has chipped away at the belief in God’s presence and has created a political environment where the elites are viewed as smarter than everyone else and must be obeyed.
In the past, articulating and adhering to a unified Republican ideology was less important because Judeo-Christian values permeated American values and culture. This system silently and subconsciously provided a stable foundation that allowed day-to-day politics to focus on pragmatic solutions to social and economic problems. As late as the 1950s, even secular elites still maintained an adherence to many of these values, and they were reinforced within the educational system and in public life. Civics classes taught children about the benefits of our Constitutional system of government, its foundation in Judeo-Christian values and natural rights, and portrayed the Constitution and the founding fathers in a positive light. The existence of God was acknowledged in the public schools and popular culture. Therefore, arguing piecemeal for practical common sense solutions to policy matters was still a very effective approach.
The cultural revolution of the 1960s, however, caused a dramatic change in America’s shared beliefs. Belief in traditional hierarchies and social structures were systematically destroyed by an “anything goes” philosophy. More importantly, the Left started propagating the idea that the American system was actually founded to enforce “inequality” and support the “privileges” of “wealthy white men” at the expense of people of color and women. Judeo-Christian ethics and values were viewed as anachronistic and oppressive. These values would need to be destroyed to liberate previously oppressed groups.
But human beings are hard-wired with a need for meaning and purpose. Thus, the liberated baby boomer elites began searching for a new philosophical ideology that could give direction to their lives. Progressives recognized this need and began more intensely to propagate their Neo-Marxist ideology which claims that by following their precepts, “salvation” will be achieved by creating a utopia on earth.
The fall of the Soviet Union quickened the progressive ascent because there was no longer an ideological enemy to the left. American and European elites were free to borrow and modernize what they admired from the Marxist-Leninist worldview. Often American leftists argue that Soviet-style communism failed because it was practiced by a “primitive” society. The American elites will get it right this time.
Defining the Hierarchy of the New Natural Law Republican Ideology
Occasionally you see bumper stickers that proclaim “God, Family, Country.” With the addition of the word “World” after “Country” this message can serve as the foundational hierarchy of the new natural law ideology.
While many secular Republican libertarians may balk at the inclusion of the concept of God at the top of the ideology’s hierarchy, the purpose is not to promote a state religion or even to force people to believe in a particular religious doctrine. Instead it is there to emphasize that humans are fallible, are prone to both good and evil, and should not assume that we have all the answers to the problems of the world.
The framers implicitly recognized the existence of God the Creator and made numerous references to this belief in various founding documents. Even the possible atheists among the founders believed that the rights of man were not devised by some political process but bestowed on all men by nature, and thus “self-evident.”
God or even the concept of God provides man with a sense of humility that tends to limit the excesses of man’s arrogance and selfishness. The mere concept of God presupposes that there are forces of nature that will remain mysterious no matter how far science advances. It is there to emphasize that there is a higher power that perhaps cannot be fully explained but plays a role in human destiny. God is not there to limit the advancement of science, political thought, or technology but to constrain the excess caused by humans’ arrogance and hubris.
Natural law has been shaped by thousands of years of human reason. Common sense is slow to change because it is an amalgamation of what norms and values have proven to keep the human race developing in a just and sustainable manner. The diktats of leaders or the trendy “discoveries” of elite groups are always impeded by the slow progress of human wisdom and this helps ensure that dignity and freedom of individuals are protected.
Some Republicans may ask “where is the individual in this hierarchy? Shouldn’t individuals have a place?” The individual actually looms large in each of the hierarchical levels. God bestows inalienable rights, free will, and the right and duty to act out of conscience. Family depends on individual members with rights and obligations to themselves and each other. Country recognizes the need to act on a broader basis where individuals acting together benefit the nation as a whole. Adding World implies that America can still be a beacon of light, “the shining city on top of the hill” to the rest of the world.
Putting World last, however, will discourage Republican foreign policy formulators from trying to solve global problems in ways that worsen problems for our own citizens. The various “nation building” wars and economic policies designed to “help China grow” pursued during the last several decades by both Republican and Democratic administrations caused tremendous damage to Americans because the hierarchy was inverted. Trump’s “America First” policies recognized this. They were not implemented to hurt other countries but to protect and develop American interests first.
Understanding and adhering to these core values will enable Republican politicians, academics, and media pundits to “compromise” with Democrats on certain peripheral policy issues without undermining the ideology. Explicit commitment to this framework of principles will allow for reasonable differences about policy priorities, but will help maintain focus and discipline in the face of the Democrats’ unified front.
The Democrats and the progressive Left are very good at taking this approach and understand which policies are critical to maintaining their ideology. They are willing to water down policy choices as long as the new policies do not challenge the advancement of their core principles.
A Call to Action: How to Fight Back
Even with a unified ideology, the Republicans will find it very difficult to stop the continuing advancement of the Left. As a starting point to winning back America, natural law Republicans should focus their energy on two broad political objectives 1) stop the Left’s war on religion and 2) take control of at least part of the mainstream media.
A recent poll of church attendance one year after the COVID pandemic indicated that church attendance in America has dropped to below 50 percent for the first time in the history of the nation. There are a number of reasons for this drop. The most important reason, however, is the elimination of prayer within the public schools since the 1960s. Throughout American history, elementary and even high school students started the day with either a non-denominational prayer or a moment of silence to give thanks to Almighty God. Protests and legal challenges by atheists and the Left during the 60s and 70s, eventually led to the elimination of this practice. As a result, several generations of students no longer had an introduction to a supreme spiritual Being—unless it was instilled by their parents. Even if children had believing parents, the lack of any reinforcement at a young age led to non-belief or agnosticism when they became adults.
Critical to the concept of individual natural rights is individual responsibility and the capacity for good or evil. Judeo-Christian values stress that good and evil are personal choices. Even within the most economically difficult or politically suppressive environments, people inherently know the difference between good and evil even if they do not always select good. The whole concept of meritocracy based on individual choices and performance is an outgrowth of this value system. The Left seeks to destroy these concepts by arguing that society or collective structures cause good or bad choices. Because of this, the Left advocates powerful governments to order society and control it as proscribed by elites.
The founders were for the most part religious people but wanted to prevent the type of political unrest that had occurred in Great Britain following the Reformation and continuing during the reign of Stuart Kings. Many of the original settlers came to America during that period to flee religious persecution. This experience weighed heavily on the minds of the framers, causing them to design a system of government that would not favor one religious denomination over another or create a state-supported theocracy. It is disingenuous for the Left to argue that the religious freedom clause was placed in the Constitution to promote atheism and eliminate the concept of God the Creator from civic political discourse. The founders did not refer to freedom from religion but rather freedom of religion.”
Many Republicans too easily “compromise” with demands by the Left to ban school prayer and religious symbols such as saying Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah. They feel that token displays of religious symbolism are not worth the fight since such displays don’t have a lasting impact on children or adults. Studies have shown, however, that small ideas and symbols planted early and often in a population’s conscious and subconscious make adult minds more receptive or opposed to ideas. Corporate advertising agencies and intelligence agencies know that symbols and slogans are very effective in persuading target audiences. Communist governments spend millions of dollars each year creating the right propaganda messages to control their populations. One only has to read Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals to grasp how important symbol construction and words are to the Left. Republican politicians should also be required to read George Orwell’s satirical Animal Farm to get a better understanding of how changing the meaning of words and introducing the right symbols can transform the direction of a society.
Without freedom of speech and the free expression of ideas, natural law liberalism will lack a viable mechanism to win against the Left’s ideology. Republicans must stop paying lip service to the concept of independent journalism. They must face the fact that independent journalism is no longer possible within the corporate media. America’s elite universities and journalism schools in particular have taught graduates to believe in advocacy media and have indoctrinated their students with progressive leftist ideas. Once they enter the workplace these ideas are reinforced through peer pressure and outright censure. Mainstream journalists such as Lester Holt and Chuck Todd no longer even pretend to offer “both sides” of the issue to the viewing public. What’s worse, they are so convinced of their righteousness in doing this that even when admitting to censoring opposing viewpoints they still believe they are “fair and balanced.” The only way Republican ideas can get a fair airing is by creating their own advocacy media platforms and news vehicles that have a wide public reach.
Most viewers get all their news from short segments on the Big Three nightly newscasts and morning shows. It is not enough for the Newsmax, OAN, and the Fox News opinion shows to provide an alternative view. While Tucker Carlson may have the highest rated show on cable, his viewership is still a fraction of the amount of viewers which collectively watch the evening news on CBS, NBC, and ABC. The average daily viewership of the combined Big Three news network surpasses 20 million people every night compared to Tucker’s fewer than 3 million. The border crisis and the national security implications of Hunter Biden’s multiple missing laptops are just two examples of critical stories affecting this nation that are simply not covered by the mainstream media and are therefore not understood by the majority of Americans.
Republican billionaires should pool their money together and acquire one of the mainstream media outlets like CBS, NBC, or ABC. Even after putting a network such as CBS in Republican ownership hands, it will take a long time to weed out the bias in reporting because journalists are no longer trained to be objective. The management of the newly acquired legacy news department should explicitly articulate that their goal is to make the network provide the public with a true representation of Republican policy views. The reformulated news department should screen reporters to ensure that they are not subconsciously skewing their reports to favor the Left.
Many in the Republican Party may argue that this will just polarize the country further, ultimately leading to a break up of the country. This is a false narrative. Natural law liberalism rests on commonsense values that are still embedded within most Americans. If promoted correctly and continuously, there is no reason to believe that they cannot overcome the progressive leftist ideas which are actually foreign to the American experience.
Time Is Running Out
The longer Republicans fail to act the more entrenched the Left’s progressive values and norms will become in society. It will become harder and harder to reverse the grasp of these ideas on the country as their political and cultural power will work to keep other ideas suppressed. The Democrats believe that leftist ideas represent the inevitable “progress of history” which to them represents an absolute incontrovertible truth. They have thus become evangelists for a globalist socialist future. Unless Republicans anchor their political value system in the absolute truth of inalienable individual rights granted by God the Creator they will simply fall into the trap of arguing about moral relativism and the Left will eventually win.
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Andrew Oleksiw is a retired financial services industry executive.
Photo “God Bless America” by Lorie Shaull CC BY 2.0.