What a glorious primary night! This is getting to sound like a Same Old Story, but Christine O'Donnell is different. I have had my eye on the fine woman for some time, and in more ways than one. Forget Sarah Palin: Miss O'Donnell, 41 and still available, is quite the looker. Anyway, unlike some of the other candidates who've coasted to victory with the support of the Tea Party, Miss O'Donnell, unlike her heterodox brother in faith Michael Castle, has long been a model socially conservative Catholic politician. Unsuccessful, yes, but I shall always have a place in my heart for perennial candidates. A rare triumphs, and a triumph over a liberal Republican who's been a fixture in Delaware politics for decades, sends a sweet rush of vital blood through my arteries. Can Miss O'Donnell actually win the general election? The odds are against her, but in 2010, this singular year, she's got a fighting chance against the little-known Democrat, Chris Coons. And even if win she cannot, last evening's victory is the latest sign that Americans have firmly resolved, with the assistance of their lackluster President to be sure, to have at least one good political party. (Chris Young, the Democratic long shot I was rooting for for mayor of the beautiful metropolis of Providence, Rhode Island, easily lost, but for candidates as good as Mr. Young I expected nothing more from our country's social liberal party).
There is even good news from my own heathen-choked congressional district. Tom Wesley, a veteran whom MassResistance and this amusingly unprofessional-looking conservative voter's resource assure us is pro-life and pro-family, has one over the more lukewarm Jay Fleitman (who still deserves some credit; he's a Northamptoner. My fair city has a paucity of men with even a degree of common sense, so I would prefer not to send this one away). Scott Brown won district 2, and I have good hopes that Mr. Wesley can do the same.
In general, my studies divert my attention from practical politics, and lead me vainly cursing our liberal democratic order in the presence of my close friends. But it was in fact one of my latest philosophical readings that drove me to check up on this election cycle's socially conservative candidates once more. Tradition-minded conservative philosophers primarily rememberJean-Jacques Rousseau (it's getting cold, so I'd better give him warm attire) for his staunch belief that men are naturally equal (though not in the same way Hobbes, Locke, and their ilk aver), his advocacy of direct democracy, and his disbelief in human nature that foreshadowed Marxism. Under the tutelage of Assumption's atypical department of Political Science, however, this Citizen of Northampton has increasingly come to appreciate that Citizen of Geneva's heavily unpopular rejection of the Enlightenment as harmful morals and conducive to every sort of pride and pettiness. Few are the philosophers who praise virtue and provincial simplicity with like elegance; we Christians certainly have much to learn from his wise writings, and may delight in his unparalleled candor.
When I read Rousseau's Discourse on the Virtue Most Necessary for a Hero, an obscure reading we didn't have time for in a course I took on the philosopher, a stunning passage on the necessity of heroism in politics reminded me of the usual, nagging objection modern heathens and their collaborators (acting as much from spiritual sloth as liberal conviction) advance against encouragement of moral behavior and discouragement of the opposite by a regime: They just want to tell other people what to do/think. This one sentence rejoinder serves to delegitimate the only reasonable goal any government can pursue- general happiness in accordance with virtue. (To the immediate objections of government's role in establishing law and order, pursuing even that goal only makes sense as a condition for allowing virtue to flourish securely; a human being who has effaced his dignity with vice and debauchery suffers, I dare say, no real loss if he is deprived of his misused goods, or even his life). After saying the wise man's primary concern is "the care of his own felicity" (I myself have higher hopes for the philosopher than Rousseau and his forbearer Socrates), he attests:
The views of the true Hero extend further. The happiness of men is his object, and it is to this sublime labor that he devotes the great soul he received from Heaven... The Philosopher can give the Universe some salutary instructions, but his lessons will never correct either the Great who scorn them or the Populace which does not hear them at all. Men are not governed in that way by abstract views; one makes them happy only by constraining them to be so, and one must make them experience happiness in order to make them love it. Those are the occupations and talents of the Hero. It is often with a strong hand that he puts himself in a position to receive the Benedictions of men, whom he first constrains to bear the yoke of laws in order to subject them to the authority of reason in the end.
Never have I heard such lusciously illiberal sentiments in words so beautiful, words so eternal. Aye, but for this sad Republic, mired in deplorable relativism, too inert to oppose evil, infatuated with lugubrious, monotonous progress, and to this day convinced of the righteousness of the founding ideals which have inspired our moral perdition, there are no Heroes, and we oughtn't hope for any. Honestly! Lately I've been reading through St. Augustine's The City of God, on which I have a class (and it is, at last, turning me into an Augustinian; I just couldn't appreciate the teenage whininess of his Confessions). I've only read to book 4 of 22, and he already devoted so many pages to demonstrating that Rome's decline and the depravity that caused it not only was not the fault of the Christians, but began long before the birth of Christ. Were I a Muslim today, penning a contemporary argument on Augustine's model, and perhaps entitled The Umma of God would not be difficult. Though, to be sure, I believe Islamic moral teachings far less just than those our Catholic doctrines, the principal conservative loudmouths of our day inconceivably treat Islamic extremism, even when nonviolent, as a graver moral threat to America than the lax Christians and (numerically smaller contingent of) nonbelievers who either pollute our society with filth and immoral behavior or, in the name of freedom, reason, and tolerance, refuse to act against those who do. Indeed: as much as I disapprove of the Muslim understanding of modesty, predestination, the relationship between religion and reason, etcetera, it is hard to believe America would be less virtuous as a theocratic Islamic state than under the present set of Christian liberals and their various friends.
(In this condemnatory context, so to divert some due amount of the blame from generic foes-in-argument to myself, I note that over the weekend I at last purchased and thoroughly enjoyed the first volume of Ei Itou's Tetragrammaton Labyrinth, a fine manga exemplifying both the yuri genre and nuns with gun subgenre of the girls with guns genre; while I appreciate the series for its artfulness, touching relationships, and quasi-Catholic eye candy, there are some who would insist my fanship a peccadillo. In any case, the theology isn't very accurate... see lovely illustrations of such here and here).
While Catholics not infected by Enlightenment liberalism must continue to speak boldly against our diversity of errors and evils granted immunity, we must also recognize our country has always had a broadly Christian populace, and a self-governing one at that, and, as of now, we blew it. To return to Rousseau, I would indeed go so far as to say, to render our state of affairs into the children's program duality, far from electing a Hero, but two short years ago we Americans elected over ourselves no less than a Villain: a villain much more terrifying, I nostalgically add, than Hanna-Barbera's The Hooded Claw!