As a follow up to my recent post about a Catholic wonk struggling to comprehend the cultural and spiritual forces arrayed against the Church and the West, reader Xavier passes along an example of a Catholic blogger who’s starting to get it.
Wherein Fr. Z contemplates how the Left wins by keeping one rulebook for themselves and imposing another on everyone else:
One thing’s for sure: conservatives and traditionalists are lousy at organizing and fighting back in the public square. In fact, too many times they turn on each other, which makes the Enemy cheer us on.
The Left is good at setting aside small differences for the sake of a larger goal – which usually has to do with destroying something good, true and beautiful. They even can work with enemies, as in the case of the inexplicable alliance the Left seems to have with radical Islam (cf. Andrew McCarthy’s book US HERE – UK HERE).
One of the things one learns from a) coming from a state where a caucus system is in place, or b) working within an organization that follows rules of order, is that c) to govern you have to show up and that d) to take control you have to use – or change – the rules.
Conservatives’ major Achilles’ heel is an intractable tendency toward legal positivism. Or to put it in D&D terms, they’re lawful stupid.
This habitual handicap comes into sharp focus when Fr. Z quotes former DOJ election lawyer J. Christian Adams writing for PJ Media:
Others have used the term “post-constitutional” to describe the current era in which we live. Most of us remember a time not long ago when the Constitution and the Rule of Law weren’t under open attack by so many institutions.
What do I mean by post-constitutional? There are couple of characteristics.
Law is used by those in power – often bureaucrats – to advance their ideological views through their power. Law is no longer a fixed, largely agreed upon principle. Instead it is becoming something elastic, subjective, defined by the latest best argument cooked up at Harvard Law School or Yale.
It’s quite a spectacle to see a Constitutional Conservative finally starting to realize that positive law may not be the inviolable divine principle he thought it was. He still can’t bring himself to admit the whole truth, though.
The fact is–and any Catholic worth his salt should know this–that all Modern law, including the US Constitution, is fundamentally elastic, subjective, and defined by those in charge of administering it. The Constitution was never based on ironclad syllogisms constructed from unchanging first principles. It was always based on compromise. Classical Liberalism itself is ordered toward letting everyone maximally pursue their individual preferences; not truth.
In the good old days, law was the great leveler. We could all agree on the basics. Everybody essentially agreed that election law, my field, was designed to ensure the integrity of the process.
If we learned that large number of noncitizens, aliens, for example, were registering to vote – something I’ll discuss shortly – then all sides, Democrat, independent and Republican, would look for fixes. Nobody would cook up excuses to defend the practice, excuse the practice or preserve alien voting. It would be confronted and fixed.
I have to ask Adams when, exactly, were those “good old days” to which he refers when all parties would unite to combat voter fraud? They certainly must predate 1982, when the GOP signed a legal agreement with the DNC not to investigate Democrat voter fraud.
Adams’ blind spot becomes glaringly apparent when he retires to his fainting couch over Georgetown (Make the Jesuits Suppressed Again) law professor Louis Seidman’s summary disqualification of the Constitution based on its authorship by dead, white, slave-owning men.
Enemies of the Constitution are now hiding in plain sight.
They’re not enemies of the Constitution. The Constitution is legal document drawn up by the American people, who existed long before the Constitution did. Leftist hacks like Seidman are enemies of the people.
But dyed in the wool Constitutional Conservatives like Adams are too caught up in abstract idealism to see what Seidman’s real target is.
When I say they hide in plain sight, these are the things I mean. There are many more examples of outright hostility to the Constitution becoming mainstream.
These are threats to our Constitutional order against which, I will submit, our old means of defense are largely ineffective.
Your old means of defense are ineffective because you are falling for–and now willfully embracing–the enemy’s misdirection.
They’re not hostile to the Constitution. They’re not threatening our Constitutional order. They hate and are threatening Americans. The enemy’s attacks on the Constitution are a means to the end of dismantling the few feeble protections positive law still affords the people.
The law was made for man; not man for the law.
Americans made the Constitution to order their national affairs. The “good old days” Adams speaks of were the days before America’s traitorous leaders imported and gave amnesty to an invasion force of millions of non-Americans. Who could have foreseen that drastically altering the nation’s demographic balance would undermine civic order?
Oh wait. The Catechism of the Catholic Church did:
2241 The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.
Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.
It’s the great Both And. You can’t insist on the first paragraph in isolation from the second. There’s a precise theological term for picking and choosing which parts of Christian doctrine you want to believe, and that term is heresy.
Back to Fr. Z, who shows he understands the Left’s diabolical strategy:
Keep bashing away and wearing down your opponent through insistence on process. (“Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” … “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”) Endless court cases… endless accusations and filings and complaints and indictments…. Fight every law, decision, election, finding and drive it back into the courts. Keep asserting the same referenda over and over and over, until they drive through.
The Left has won the culture war by holding their enemies to the old book of rules while writing a new and ever-changing rulebook for themselves. The Conservative Establishment (aka the Washington Generals of politics) have aided and abetted the Left by diligently policing their own side according to the old rules.
NB: This is why accusing Leftists of hypocrisy doesn’t work. You’re calling them out according to the old rules that they know are just for suckers.
On a positive note: perhaps traditionalists could make use of this dedication in a parish by being always the ones to show up for parish events, being the first to volunteer for something to be handled, making themselves indispensable to the pastor, the choir director, the religious ed coordinator. Show up and transform.
Yeah… that‘s gonna happen. Too often, people show up for “their Mass” and then disappear, having even ignored or undernourished the collection basket.
I think that has to change.
It won’t do much good for non-heretics to show up and participate in the process if they backslide into the bad habits that lost them the culture in the first place. Specifically, traditionalists in church administrations operated on the same legal positivism as Conservatives. They never imagined that anyone would simply ignore the rules and use them as a club to bludgeon their enemies.
What has to change is that Christian traditionalists and the political Right must start playing by the new rules the Left has made. And much like Democrat voting practices, the new rules are Chicago rules.
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