Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Where's the Love?

Salem Radio's Lee Habeeb has a challenge for conservatives.  He asks, in effect, Where's the Love in conservative politics?  All he sees is anger.
It is love, regrettably, that is so utterly absent from anything we talk about as conservatives. I would bet that if you Googled every speech by every conservative candidate in 2012, you wouldn’t find the word “love” once.
It's a good point.  Love is especially important in attracting women voters, because, despite a century of feminism, women are still all about love.

Men are different; they are fighters, so you can use the rhetoric of Les Miserables to get their vote.
Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!
This is a call to arms, which makes sense for men because men are fighters.  But what about the "looove" that women crave?

Obviously, we can admit, the Democrats do a bang up job of oozing the love to their single-women voters, even as they project the vilest hate towards the racists sexists and bigots of their imagination.  That's what all the rhetoric about caring is about, and proposing a program to meet every human need; it appeals to the woman in all of us.

Conservatives should play that game too.  That a government worker can't love a child like a parent, that every child is precious, that poverty is the result of a child without a father's presence and love, that bad schools and social promotion are loveless.  Only we don't say it.

The other side of love is betrayal.  If you are serving up fake love, Habeeb makes clear, then sooner or later your loved one gets to experience the betrayal of love withdrawn.

And that is clearly the line that conservatives must take.  Big government promises to care for you, but look what happens to schools, to kids, to Obamacare, to you.  What you get from government love is betrayal.

Government and politics are not about love.  Government is force, politics is division.  You will never get love and happiness from government and politics.

It is humans as social animals: that's where love comes in; humans that cooperate freely and honestly and lovingly in what Habermas called the Lebenswelt, the life world.  By lovingly we mean doing what the lover does, acting while thinking about the other person's needs.

That's why government deals in "entitlements" but love never does.

So if conservatives are honest, we cannot promise a government of love.  We don't believe in that.  We know that politics can only be a fight.  Perhaps, every now and again, it can deliver the hope of "Do you hear the people sing," in "a life about to start / When tomorrow comes."  But the life that's to come will be created not by the government but by the free and responsible selves determined to live and work and love truly in the lifeworld opened up by the retreat of government and its dominatory systems.

What we conservatives can promise is that we will restructure government and reduce its force and its divisive politics so that love can bloom in the free and honest expression of love and cooperative spirit between American and American.

And that, we can agree, contra Herbert Croly, is the real Promise of American Life.

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