One glaring distinction between conservatism and liberalism is that conservatives believe there is usually a clear right and wrong on most social questions, or at the very least a more virtuous way to behave.
One glaring similarity between Republicans and Democrats, it seems, is that it all depends upon who’s in power.
Democrats who defended the credibly alleged infidelities of President Bill Clinton are now trashing President Donald Trump.
Republicans who are now defending the credibly alleged infidelities of Trump once said Clinton’s serial adultery deemed him unworthy of the Oval Office.
And each side twists themselves into rhetorical pretzels trying to justify their apparent hypocrisy.
It’s saddening to watch. That’s why during times like these conservatives should remember why we’re in this fight — to advocate for ideas, not for individuals.
As the psalmist wrote, “Put not your trust in princes … in whom there is no help.”And one of the ideas that helps us live healthily and joyfully in the world is our belief that there is a clear moral order to things.
In fact, conservative godfather Russell Kirk considered this understanding to be the conservative movement’s initial principle.
“First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order,” Kirk wrote in his famous summation of conservatism. “That order is made for man, and man made for it; human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent.”
Loyalty. Fidelity. Honesty. These are but a few virtues found within our enduring moral order.
While some may cast them aside as relics of a Puritan past, we are governed by them no less than our ancestors were.
For who wants to be betrayed, cheated upon, or lied to? Neither a conservative nor a liberal.
As Kirk said, this moral order is permanent, and we cannot change it no more than we can change human nature itself.
When we ignore it, or worse, accept its opposite as a fact of life, we take a chisel to the foundation of society and chip away a bit of something very important.
That’s why it’s extremely disheartening to see so many formerly consistent conservatives either defend or ignore the real implications of these credible stories we keep hearing about Trump’s personal behavior.
I get it. Most people think it doesn’t matter, especially because voters knew he was unfaithful to his wives when we evaluated and then elected him.
Fair enough. He was elected to fight for America and implement an agenda.
So, defend that — his agenda, not his alleged infidelities.
To do the opposite weakens not only the credibility of our political movement and the electability of our political representatives, it corrupts our own sense of morality and helps the left push our culture further towards relativism.
To borrow the title of Judge Robert Bork’s excellent book on the decline of Western morality, the partisan shift on the question of infidelity is no less than helping our nation slouch towards Gomorrah.
“A society in which men and women are governed by belief in an enduring moral order, by a strong sense of right and wrong, by personal convictions about justice and honor, will be a good society,” Kirk wrote. “While a society in which men and women are morally adrift, ignorant of norms, and intent chiefly upon gratification of appetites, will be a bad society – no matter how many people vote and no matter how liberal its formal constitution may be.”
Kirk explained that this order isn’t so much a method of restraint than a means to harmony, and that it exists both in the inner order of the soul and the outer order of government.
In short, there is no real difference between our private and public faces – unless one is a mask.
Liberals, libertarians, and I guess now a bunch of Republicans say this still shouldn’t matter. We have serious problems, and better to have an unapologetic adulterer in the White House advancing our agenda than someone there opposing it.
So be it. But we mustn’t abandon our belief in morality in the bargain, for, “what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”