Why the GOP Shouldn’t Take Advice From Liberal Children

While there are many variations of post-election hand-wringing, one of the most common is tailoring a hairshirt to be worn by the Those Other People Who Are to Blame For Our Failure. Such lamentations are always tedious, but sometimes they reach a level of clichéd cluelessness that it makes them noteworthy.

A prime example is an op-ed yesterday by Sarah Westwood in the Wall Street Journal. Ms. Westwood is still a few months away from being a sophomore at George Washington University but she’s already getting ahead of the curve by writing one of the most sophomoric op-eds ever to be published outside a college newspaper.

The definition of sophomore—for freshmen who have not been apprised of the term’s meaning—is “conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and immature” and “characteristic of a sophomore.” There is a reason we adults do not take political advice from sophomores.

Indeed, there are two groups that serious adults never take advice from: children and College Republicans. It’s not that these groups are stupid (and least not completely), it’s that they lack wisdom. As humans have learned from eons of civilization building, you don’t listen to the most immature and inexperienced members of society when deciding how to structure the polis. However well intentioned they may be, they are likely to advocate idiotically destructive positions, such as providing unlimited access to candy and abortions. Adults realize that we shouldn’t adopt policies that rot our teeth and souls.

Had Ms. Westwood merley advocated that Republicans promise a lollipop in every pot, her op-ed might have been worth serious consideration. But instead she trots out the time-worn old mantra of college libertarians about how to fix the GOP: Become the Democratic Party with tax cuts.

Let’s snarkily examine the op-ed, section by section:

If the election results told us anything, it’s that the GOP has some serious soul searching to do. On paper, Mitt Romney’s history of accomplishment towered over President Obama’s train wreck of a record, so his loss seemed nearly inexplicable. But Mr. Obama carried his key groups so easily that Republicans should give him props for such a feat— and start taking notes.

Does everyone have a pen to take notes with? Because Ms. Westwood is going to school us old geezers about what we’re doing wrong. This should be instructive.

In politics, as in life, perception is key. The Chicago machine and the Democratic National Committee as a whole have perfected the art of marketing, even when they’ve got nothing to sell. They’re like a used-car salesman who pushes lemons on unsuspecting drivers and never gets caught. Democrats can home in on Latinos, blacks, single women, young voters—and have them chanting “Four more years!” before they know what hit them.

Did you get that? In life, as in politics, what matters is perception. You may have thought that it was important, for example, to have integrity. But what really matters is the that you be perceived as having integrity. Why work on character when a simulacra will do just fine?

I happen to be one of the latter, a college student at a time when youth is a hot political commodity. Most kids my age bristle at the word “conservative,” and I don’t blame them. The right has done nothing to welcome young people.

Since the Twenty-sixth Amendment was adopted, youth have been a “hot political commodity” for three reasons: because they can vote, because they have a lot of free time for useless political activity, and because they are extremely gullible.

For instance, Ms. Westwood says kids “bristle at the word conservative.” That’s not necessarily true everywhere, though I have no doubt it is the case at a liberal school like George Washington University. Since Ms. Westwood is surrounded by liberal, she wants to be different than them—but not too different. When you’re in high school and college the most important thing in life is to fit in and not be perceived as being someone who thinks differently than their peer group. This is the reason that some of the most liberal people you’ll ever meet are “college Republicans.”

If Republicans hope to win in 2016 and beyond, they need to change everything about the way they sell themselves. They’re viewed by the 18-24 set as the “party of the rich” and as social bigots. That harsh, flawed opinion could be rectified if Republicans started presenting their positions in a different way. The GOP is like a supermodel who has been doing photo shoots under fluorescent bulbs without any makeup. But fix the lighting, dab on some foundation and highlight her good side, and she can take the most attractive picture.

Notice that Ms. Westwood’s primary solution is for the GOP to change its marketing position. When you’re young changing how people see you—whether dying your hair blue and getting a tattoo—is considered a bold act of self-redefinition. What it really is, of course, is the conformity of rebellion. The greatest conformists are always “rebels.” They may dress differently but they tend to think exactly alike.

Consider, for instance, the idea that problem with Republicans is that they are “party of the rich” and “social bigots.” Ms. Westwood is young so she can be excused for not realizing that the “party of the rich” mantra was a tired and inaccurate cliché even before she was born. Perhaps she is unaware that in this last election Obama won 8 of 10 wealthiest counties in U.S. Despite their populist rhetoric, the Democrats have been the “party of the rich” for decades.

As for the term “social bigots” the only people that use that phrase are morons. It’s a term used by dumb people who are not able to make arguments based on their merits but think they are “tolerant.” Generally speaking, it’s not worth engaging such people because they either have not learned how to think for themselves or have shut their brains off so that they can feel superior to those who don’t share their prejudices.

Still, since we are engaging Ms. Westwood’s op-ed we have to ask: Does she truly believe that the vast majority of humans throughout history have been “social bigots?” Does she honestly believe that she is more enlightened about social structures and morality than the wisest men and women in our civilization’s history?

Sadly, I suspect she does. The fact that she could parrot such an ignorant phrase as “social bigots” shows that she is not nearly as bright as the editors of the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page are leading her to believe.

My age group is one pocket of voters who Republicans should be carrying with ease. Youth is all about rebellion and freedom and independence—things the Democratic Party preaches but doesn’t deliver. Behind their clever one-liners lurks a government shackle waiting to be slapped onto the wrists of every young voter they ensnare.

Ms. Westwood is correct that the Democratic Party preaches “rebellion and freedom and independence.” But that is because they do not see the inherent contradictions between “rebellion” and “independence.” There are no people on earth so enslaved as those who rebel against moral norms in the name of freedom. The young tend not to realize that, which is why they enslave themselves to their passions. For youth whose parents can pay to repair the damage—sending them to rehab, paying for an abortion, financing their starter marriage and divorce—the consequences can often be avoided. But not everyone is fortunate enough to avoid reaping what they have sown.

Another leg up that the left has is its claim to the moral high ground. The party of pro-choice, pro-gay has such a hold on young people because those are issues they can care about easily. Not many 20-year-olds can hold a coherent conversation about Social Security reform or double taxation, but all of them can argue passionately for gay rights.

First of all, the reason most youth are “pro-gay” is because they are profoundly ignorant of the harms of homosexual behavior. While it was once considered compassionate to care about those who engage in harmful behavior, today you are labeled a “social bigot” for thinking that maybe we shouldn’t be so eager to encourage behavior that is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, and domestic violence. (Since Ms. Westwood and other “pro-gay” youths are likely to be unaware of the data supporting these claims, I’ve included it at the end of this post.)

Today “tolerance” and “compassion” requires encouraging people to engage in sexual behavior that destroys the body and sullies the soul. This is why it’s not much use arguing with the young about sexuality. Although many 20-year-olds may be able to “argue passionately for gay rights,” until they understand they arguments on the other side they’ll remain clueless interlocutors.

As a member of this all-important demographic, I know that neither I nor (almost) anybody else coming of age today supports the Republican social agenda. That’s the way the country is moving—so just deal with it. Modernize and prioritize.

“So just deal with it.” Here we go. To her childish arguments, Ms. Westwood now adds childish foot-stomping. We old fogies need to just accept the fact that the world is changing! The children have spoken! They will get their way or they will send us off to the old folks home!

While it may be true that the country is moving in a direction where morally ignorant libertines decide our countries fate, that is something to be avoided, not embraced. Personally, I’m more hopeful. As happens with every generation, maturity and life-experience tends to make people more conservative and less accepting of the “lifestyle choices” they thought were hip and cool when they were young.

Though it may be painful, though it may be costly at the polls in the short run, Republicans don’t have a future unless they break up with the religious right and the gay-bashing, Bible-thumping fringe that gives the party such a bad rap with every young voter. By fighting to legally ban abortion, the party undercuts the potential to paint itself as a rebel against the governmental-control machine.

As a member of this all-important demographic, I know that neither I nor (almost) anybody else coming of age today supports the Republican social agenda. That’s the way the country is moving—so just deal with it. Modernize and prioritize.

Though it may be painful, though it may be costly at the polls in the short run, Republicans don’t have a future unless they break up with the religious right and the gay-bashing, Bible-thumping fringe that gives the party such a bad rap with every young voter.

I realize that this is probably Ms. Westwood’s first op-ed, but for most of us, this isn’t our first time reading one. Those of use who aren’t sophomores have likely read hundreds of this type of article. The clichéd trope always follows the same pattern:

1. The problem with Political Party X is that it is harmed by its association with Faction Y.
2. By turning their back on Faction Y, Political Party X would become more attractive to Faction Z.
3. Political Party X must—if it wants to remain viable—dumb Faction Y post-haste.

Every election there are dozens of op-eds that argue that if only the GOP would distance themselves from the gargantuan faction of social conservatives the party could then appeal to some a minuscule faction of left-libertarians. Eventually, some other op-ed writer points out that since the 1960s the GOP has never won an election in which conservative Christians did not come out in force to support the Republican candidate. Then such idiocy is set aside for four more years.

If Ms. Westwood stays in school and takes a political science class (or just reads a newspaper), she may eventfully become aware of this concept known as “political reality.”

By fighting to legally ban abortion, the party undercuts the potential to paint itself as a rebel against the governmental-control machine.

Supporting the slaughter of the unborn is rebelling against the “governmental-control machine”? Good grief. I realize that Ms. Westwood is blinded by her allegiance to garden-variety social liberal libertarianism, but this is embarrassingly ill-informed.

Is she not aware that polls consistently show people between the ages of 18 to 29 are the most likely to be against abortion? The pro-life movement is skewing younger than ever before. The younger generations are becoming more pro-life while it’s the crusty old Baby Boomers who are stolidly, vehemently pro-abortion.

I realize you don’t have to, you know, know stuff to write an op-ed. But why did the WSJ feel obligated to give space to such a completely uninformed college student? How important must Ms. Westwood’s parents be that she was allowed to publish such college newspaper drivel in the esteemed paper?

Embracing a more liberal social agenda doesn’t require anyone to abandon her own personal values; it’s possible to keep faith and the party too. But the evangelical set essentially hijacked the Republican Party in the 1970s; now we need to take it back. Thawing the icy attitude of our most vocal, radical voices—including the raucous right (a la Limbaugh)—could let a fatally fractured party put the pieces together again.

Is Ms. Westwood tipping her hand and revealing herself as a Democrat? Since the claim that evangelicals “hijacked” the Republican Party in the 1970s is such a common talking point among liberal Democrats it’s hard not to wonder if she’s not just a concern troll. Perhaps it’s simple the case that she’s an uninformed, childish liberal that prefers to vote for Republicans. But it does make you wonder where her true allegiance lies.

The GOP won’t survive if it doesn’t start courting young voters. Simple math dictates that the Republican Party can wrest power away from the left only if it builds an army of fresh young members into its base. Democrats are the ones doing that now.

And so concludes one of the stupidest op-eds I’ve ever read.

I won’t go into all the reasons why this strategy—which has been advocated since the 1960s—is politically ignorant. Many of us who survived our twenties realize that our priorities and politics changed considerably once we left the epistemic cocoon of college and our parent’s homes. With maturity comes the realization that certain institutions—like marriage—are worthy of protection and certain freedoms—like the right to life—are essential in a civilized society. Like the Apostle Paul, many of us can say, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

And one of the childish ways we give up on becoming adults is taking advice from children like Ms. Westwood.



Sexual Promiscuity

According to a survey taken in 1997 and published in the Journal of Sex Research, 21 percent of gay men older than 30 had between 101-500 sexual partners over their lifetime. During the preceding six months, 44.9 percent had between 2-10 partners while 26.6 percent had more than 10. Only 28.5 percent had been with only one partner.

Additionally, “monogamy” is often defined differently in the gay community—a fact that is rarely mentioned, but never disputed. The term monogamy is redefined so that a person can be “faithful” to one partner and, thus, “monogamous,” while continuing to have sexual experiences with others. San Francisco State University released a study in 2010 that found that about 50 percent of those surveyed had sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

There is no question that homosexual conduct is associated with higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases. As the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases noted last year, “Men who have sex with men (MSM) have increased rates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) compared with demographically matched controls.” Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that STDs ” have been increasing among gay and bisexual men.” In 2008, men who have sex with men accounted for 63 percent of primary and secondary syphilis cases in the United States and are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than heterosexual men.

Mental illness

Numerous studies (see, for example, herehere, and here) have found that homosexuals have a higher incidence of mental illness than the general population. Even the SPLC doesn’t deny this point, though they claim that the reason is because of the “stress of being a member of a minority group in an often-hostile society.” However, studies have also shown that the same level of mental health problems occurs in areas that are accepting of homosexuality, such as San Francisco, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

Substance Abuse

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), studies have shown that, when compared with the general population, gay and bisexual men, lesbian, and transgender individuals are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, abuse substances, and continue heavy drinking into later life. They are less likely to abstain from alcohol and drug use.

Domestic Violence

survey by the Department of Justice found that same-sex cohabitants reported significantly more intimate partner violence than did opposite-sex cohabitants. Among women, 39.2 percent of the same-sex cohabitants and 21.7 percent of the opposite-sex cohabitants reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked by a marital/cohabiting partner at some time in their lifetime. The survey also found that 15.4 percent of same-sex cohabiting men reported being raped, physically assaulted and/or stalked by a male partner.

Additionally, 82 percent of the victims of domestic violence reported to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs identified themselves as gay.


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  • Truth

    Joe Carter: Since the Twenty-sixth Amendment was adopted, youth have been a “hot political commodity” for three reasons: because they can vote, because they have a lot of free time for useless political activity, and because they are extremely gullible.

    And before the Twenty-sixth amendment, children between 5-10 were ripe prey for religious indoctrination, because they are orders of magnitude more gullible than college students. Seeing as you still accept the religious indoctrination you underwent when you were a child, Joe, I don’t think you have the right to call anyone else gullible.

    Joe Carter: Still, since we are engaging Ms. Westwood’s op-ed we have to ask: Does she truly believe that the vast majority of humans throughout history have been “social bigots?” Does she honestly believe that she is more enlightened about social structures and morality than the wisest men and women in our civilization’s history?

    Very good argument. Let’s re-legalize slavery and deny women their rights. In fact, let’s go a step further. The vast majority of humans throughout history haven’t been monotheists, in fact, they would have persecuted anyone who did deny their multiple gods. Shall we return to that, too?

    Joe Carter: First of all, the reason most youth are “pro-gay” is because they are profoundly ignorant of the harms of homosexual behavior.

    You’re obsessed with homosexuality, like most evangelical “Christians”.

    Joe Carter: the gargantuan faction of social conservatives

    You have nowhere else to go. Hence, the election of many pro-choicers in deeply conservative states: Nancy Kassebaum, Bill Frist and Fred Thompson (who ran as pro-choicers). Same for George Allen and Jim Gilmore. Same for George H.W. Bush.

    Joe Carter: Supporting the slaughter of the unborn is rebelling against the “governmental-control machine”?

    I love how the only way you can make a pseudo-argument is by begging the question. Maybe this sort of thing is accepted in evangelical circles, but the outside world regards this as a fallacy. I’m very sorry.

    Joe Carter: And so concludes one of the stupidest op-eds I’ve ever read.

    This op-ed is ‘stupid’, but the Bible is so brilliant that it could only have written by an omniscient being. Frankly, I doubt the judgment of a person who believes such a thing. If you can’t distinguish between the writings of ignorant shepherds and an omniscient being, how could you possibly be able to distinguish intelligent op-eds from stupid op-eds?

    • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

      Do you have anything to say that did not come off of a bumper sticker in the student lot at a high school?

      • Truth

        You may not be used to arguments that are not in the form of a statement that ends in “believe this or you’re going to hell”.

        • Jill

          So you admit that you get your arguments from bumper stickers.

  • Craig

    Joe, I think you’ve here perfected the voice of sullen, belittling, arrogance. But as for substance, young Sarah might still have the upper hand. I’m guessing she would cut you down a few notches in a public debate.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/joecarter Joe Carter

    I’m guessing she would cut you down a few notches in a public debate.

    Um, yeah. I kinda doubt that. There is no substance to her article. It’s the same type of idiocy that you hear from a lot of liberal young people have lived in a protected bubble their whole life.

    • Craig

      Maybe we can arrange something then. Would you be willing to debate her at her university? (Btw, your vitriol towards this young woman is remarkable. Did your own opinion piece get rejected by the WSJ?)

      • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie


        If Joe is such easy pickins’, why don’t you take him on instead of hiding behind the skirts of an almost-sophomore co-ed?

        • Truth

          I’ve already done that. It isn’t terribly difficult when arguments are made to popularity and the overwhelming focus of a piece is a simple personal attack. Remember how you thought you could discredit Sandra Fluke by attacking her personally?

  • Sam James

    Obviously hers was not a new landmark in journalistic erudition. However, I think the op-ed pretty much sums up how the GOP is going to react to this election. There IS going to be a “modernization” of the platform, and I would be willing to wager quite a bit that in 8 years (maybe 4?), you will have a choice between two pro gay marriage candidates. Just a cursory glance at the state amendment results reveals this to be extremely likely.

    So yes, her effort is sophomoric, but it’s probably prophetic.

    • J.M. LaRue

      A Pro-Gay, Pro-Abortion Republican will NEVER win the office of president.

      You realize the cursory glance at the state amendments reveal that the only states who voted for these changes were predominantly liberal. Its foolish to take that data and think it will carry over to places like Texas and the rest of the South.

      • Truth

        Mississippi and South Dakota rejected a ban on abortion. Even the reddest states have a pro-choice majority. If you think that Mississippi will vote for the Democrat, if the Republicans nominated a pro-choicer, I have a bridge to sell you.

  • http://southerngospelyankee.wordpress.com yankeegospelgirl

    “As for the term ‘social bigots’ the only people that use that phrase are morons. It’s a term used by dumb people who are not able to make arguments based on their merits but think they are “tolerant.” Generally speaking, it’s not worth engaging such people because they either have not learned how to think for themselves or have shut their brains off so that they can feel superior to those who don’t share their prejudices.”

    This is just so hateful. I thought everyone was worthy of our respect and tolerance. UR JUST CALLING PEOPLE STUPID CUZ THEY THINK DIFFERENTLY THAN U!


    • http://southerngospelyankee.wordpress.com yankeegospelgirl

      In other words… another classic Joe zinger wins my YGG stamp of approval.

    • Joe Carter

      I should clarify for those people who don’t have YGS’s excellent taste in snark that I’m not opposed to all dumb people.

      I myself come from a long line of dumb people—mostly on my father’s side of the family—and still have a lot of dumb friends and family. (In fact, they still claim me as one of their own.) But I am opposed to people being willfully dumb. And classifying 99% of all people who ever lived as “social bigots” because they disagree about same-sex marriage is a prime example of being willfully dumb.

      • Truth

        Where did she state ‘social bigots’ referred only to your agenda on same-sex marriage, rather than the whole plethora of theocratic agenda items of the religious right? From forcing Bibles, school prayer, creationism and religious-based abstinence nonsense on schoolchildren to outlawing abortion (even in cases of rape and incest), permitting hospitals to refuse to give rape victims emergency contraception, to ensuring that gays and lesbians can be evicted from their homes and fired from their jobs for that sole reason, to demanding taxpayer subsidy for their religious schools and ‘faith-based initiatives’, to the attacks on Planned Parenthood’s cancer screenings. The list is as long as it is terrifying.

        And you keep making the 99% argument. How about answering this question: is slavery a good thing, because it was unquestioned by the vast, vast majority of people who have ever lived? Is your monotheism a bad thing, because it has been rejected by the vast majority of people who have ever lived?

        • yankeegospelgirl

          Wow. Please keep talking, “Truth,” whoever you are. You’re doing a beautiful job of proving Joe’s point for him. This comment alone is such a gem of stupidity and out-of-touch-with-reality-ness that it speaks for itself. No further comment required.

          • Truth

            You’re welcome, and you keep talking, too. Please keep identifying the “gospel” with hatred and hypocrisy – the sooner that the last pages of the chapter of human history entitled “Christianity” are written.

      • http://www.bravelass.blogspot.com Kamilla


        I think YGG should write a WSJ Op-Ed. I’m a fan of hers.

        • yankeegospelgirl

          Well thanks for the compliment, but even if they offered me a spot (which they never will) I wouldn’t think twice about turning my nose up at a journal that stoops to publish crap like the op-ed Carter disemboweled in this post.

  • yankeegospelgirl

    BTW, you have a few typos in this article. I’ll point out the ones I caught so far:

    “Had Ms. Westwood merley [should be "merely"] advocated…”

    After the “Though it may be painful…” block quote, you accidentally pasted two earlier paragraphs of the op-ed into your main body.

    “3. Political Party X must—if it wants to remain viable—dumb [should be dump] Faction Y post-haste.”

    “could then appeal to some a minuscule faction of left-libertarians…” [Get rid of "some" or "a."]

  • yankeegospelgirl

    Oh yeah, and in this phrase “she may eventfully become aware…” did you really mean “eventfully” or “eventually”?

  • yankeegospelgirl

    Oops, one last one… “Perhaps it’s simple [simply] the case…”

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  • Barry Arrington

    I remember very well the first time I was told by a political expert that the Republican Party was doomed to permanent rump status. It was September 1980 and I was sitting in my freshman political science class. We all know what happened in November of 1980 and 84 and 88 and 94 and 2000 and 2004.

    The Republican Party was the dominant political party in this country from 1860 to 1930. The Democrat Party dominated from 1932 to 1994. Since then the parties have traded back and forth. You have a 2008 followed by a 2010 followed by a 2012.

    While the Democrats narrowly won this year, it was essentially a status quo election. Everyone focuses on the fact that Obama squeaked by (change 350,000 votes in three states out of the 120,000,000 cast – that’s 0.29% — and Romney wins the electoral college). And this with a weak candidate. Keep in mind that the Republicans spent the entire primary season trying to find a “not-Romney” and only nominated him when they could not. Romney was not the first choice of even most of the people of his own party and still he lost only narrowly. Let’s face it. He might be a nice guy and have great personal integrity, but Romney does not inspire. Obama inspires his supporters.

    How can we gage the temperament of the nation while controlling for this “personality” issue. Easy. Spread the vote out over 435 house races and the personality issue will be canceled out. What happens when you do this? You get a house with a comfortable Republican majority. Note that this is not only because the Republicans gerrymanders successfully in 2011. They not only won the most seats, they won the majority of the overall congressional vote in spite of the fact that every Democrat attempted to paint every Republican as a right wing extremist.

    Does this mean the country is overwhelmingly conservative? No. It means the country is the same as it has always been, slightly right of center. Still, I could have predicted the MSM would begin howling for Republicans to give up and become Democrats if they did not win the presidency. But that says more about the MSM (overwhelmingly Democrat) than it does about the temperament of the country.

    • Barry Arrington

      Correction: It now appears the Democrats will achieve a very slight plurality in the popular vote.

  • Crooked way

    Good to know it’s so healthy to be lesbian: lower rates of std transmission of any sexually active group, including heterosexuals. That’s how people make decisions about how to think of friends, family, neighbors, co-workers who are gay, right? Tendentious selections of statistical research?

  • Eric M. Brown

    Mitt Romney is a liberal Republican. He rejected the pro-life Republican platform. He supports the homosexualization of the military and of the boy scouts. He dictated by executive fiat homosexual “marriage” as Gov. of Mass. He ran a boring, uninspiring, unideological campaign based on jobs and the economy alone and instead of Sarah Westwood blaming him, the leading Republican on the Republican ticket, for the Republican losses she blames the socially conservative Republican base! There is no Republican social agenda. The Republican party has no unified agenda. It is a house divided with more different kinds of conservatives and Republicans then letters in the alphabet. The Democrat Party on the other hand is united behind one political ideology in all facets-modern liberalism. To me the Republican party is too socially liberal. It has moved continually toward compromise with social liberalism ever since Bush 43′s presidency. A house divided against itself will not stand and neither will the Republican party. Romney had 3 million less Republican voters than McCain in 2008. Many of these voters refused to vote for Romney because they saw him as a Rockefeller liberal Republican and not even a Reagan conservative. If I have a choice between a libertarian and a liberal Democrat, I would vote for neither and neither did I vote for liberal Republican Mitt Romney. If the Republican party takes Sarah Westwood’s advice there will be even less millions of voters for the Republican party and it will become a permanent minority party for sure.

    • Truth

      For every person who is in the tiny minority of people who think that the military should ban people on the basis of his religion, the GOP will gain ten socially liberal/moderate fiscal conservatives. Social conservatism is extremely unpopular, and it makes a mockery of the GOP’s pledges to get government off our backs. Most people believe in fiscal responsibility. They do not believe that a religious group should dictate what their laws should be.

      No GOP social agenda? What about the contraceptive mandate? What about Romney bragging about shoving ‘abstinence-only education’ down the throats of public school children? What about Romney saying he’d be “delighted” to sign a ban on all abortions? What about Romney supporting Richard Mourdock? What about Romney wanting to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood?

      • Ian

        “Truth”, your name is hilariously ironic on account of the nihilism that exudes from your posts. I feel as if your of the opinion that morality is up to debate, and that morality is whatever popular consensus deems it should be(You nagg Joe over using this faulty argumentation, but seem to base your morals on the same thing albeit more current social norms) , which would certainly do away with any objective truth/morality worth arguing about. Is it all left to the realm of opinion, and is it the fact that someone is making an objective truth claim that “A” is bad that has your feathers ruffled? or is it just Christian values with which you take offense?

        Where do you derive your morality from? Self informed? societal consensus? These change with the times, they are super subjective, so they are no foundation. It’s like bringing a bag of mice to a gun fight.
        You would tear down the certain, God-given moral structure, and replace it with some opinion- based pseudo-truth, for what reason?
        If morality is just whatever fits with the ethos of the day, why with all the arguing? surely its not that important, society will just change its mind later on, and your opinions will then be seen as archaic. Why care? and if I’ve got you all wrong let me know, ill apologize, just trying to understand where your coming from.

        • Truth

          Yeah… your “morality” is not God-given, any more than Sharia law is. Another classic case of begging the question. The objective fact is that you are taking the morality of Bronze Age shepherds and claiming that it is somehow divine – which requires an unnecessary assumption. This is strikingly obvious to anyone who has not been indoctrinated into the religion – the Bible’s commandments are very similar to Sharia law. It also shows your god commanding massacres of entire cities, including babies. So the idea that morality comes from the Bible is therefore an absurdity, unless you want to defend genocide, stoning and slavery.

          I never said that I think that morality is determined by popular consensus. That’s an absurdity. In fact, I disputed that when Joe said it. Remember, something can’t be immoral if 99% of people who have ever lived have held that opinion, according to Joe.

          • Ian

            You didnt answer my questions, if you dont want to,fine, I will repeat them anyways:
            What informs your morality? Where does it come from, and why should it be respected/what is its basis of authority?
            And IF its just something that we hash out among ourselves, why does it matter that I think differently than you, and why argue about it?

            Sure sure, its easy enough to say that the Bible is not divinely inspired, but follow this for a moment. Lets say there is a god, and that he created everything, and he wanted to communicate something to his creatures, what would that look like? Also, what if the humans disagreed with his statutes because their minds were darkened, couldnt that be a possibility? Because it is a fallacy to assume that there is no deity simply because it cant be scientifically proven.Science cant prove either way. But anyways, this business about the slaughters and pillaging.

            That was back when Israel was a theocracy. God used his people to enact his Divine justice on the sinners who transgressed his law(look up some material on primary and secondary causation, and theodicy while you are at it),he also uses other nations to do the same to Israel at times! Of course its ugly to read about, but this is the result and penalty for sin:death. Now, however, in the New Testament we are told to endure persecution, dont fight back, gladfully accept the plundering of our property etc. etc. The New testament is replete with this theme.Very un-militant.
            Also slavery back then was not like that of slavery we have seen in the USA,this is very important to note, it played a vital role in supporting people who were destitute before such things as welfare or food stamps for example. Sure a slave was the lowest man in society, and slave masters were often harsh, but the NT forbids masters to act that way towards their slaves, and tells slaves that if they have the opportunity to be freed that they should. But that was not the point of the NT, it wasnt to enact social justice,but certainly that was an inevitable effect, it was to proclaim the message that Christ came to save the wicked(you and ME) and that in Him we can be reconciled to God. Your conscience bears witness that you are a sinner, and that God’s anger is over you in your sin. repent and be reconciled to Him.
            I cant change your mind, or persuade you with silk tongue, its up to God who changes hearts.
            have a good night

            • Truth

              There was no need to answer your question. First, the questions of whether your Christian Sharia is ‘God-given’ and ‘moral’ need to be resolved, or there’s no point to discussing any other matter. You “feel” that I base my morality on X, even though I didn’t say that? You have extrasensory perception? Can you ‘feel’ from a distance what people’s positions on moral matters are? Actually, I told you that it’s an absurdity – a statement that was ignored by you. Back to the topic of your “God-given morality”:

              I asked you about stoning and slavery in ancient Israel, and you defended it as moral. And you defend as moral the slaughter of the Amalekites, including the children and the babies. It is very interesting that you think that the murder of children and babies, slavery and stoning are “sometimes right”. It makes me wonder about what else you would think is moral, if you were convinced that it was the will of your god. Perhaps if his will were to fly airplanes into skyscrapers, “to enact his Divine justice on the sinners who transgressed his law”, you would consider that moral, too? You certainly have no qualms about the killing of innocents when done by your god, even children. Or slavery – as Lincoln said, if slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. So let me not hear you speak of your “God-given morality”, because it’s neither God-given nor moral.

              • Ian

                You don’t seem to understand the difference between the theocracy of the OT and how things stand presently. You also seemed to miss my comment about the Bible forbiding slave owners not to be harsh, and to treat their slaves as brothers, or the fact that it served as a means of helping those who were destitute, because there was a thing called poverty, and famine (also Christains were on the cutting edge of ending slavery fyi). You also seemed to miss the fact that people aren’t good, and no one is innocent before God. All have sinned, you don’t seem to get that. Adam’s fall doomed us all.God can take anyones life, he has the right to as God, he often uses ordinary means to accomplish that. Does that mean I should go slaughter a whole town? of course not. Your trying to peg me as some kind of extremist, its nonsense.

                Ok, you want to talk twin towers I guess:
                What those people did was evil, they killed thousands of people, So they are paying for that now in hell, but on the other hand everything that happens is ordained by God, he had a good purpose in the events that happened.

                Take for example the story of Joseph and his Bros. They beat him, sold him into slavery, and lied to his father saying he died. They did this out of the evil of their hearts, God however allowed this in order that Joseph should become Pharaoh’s #2, and save the nations from the famine that was coming. What God meant for good, they meant for evil. and they were responsible for what they did because they did it willingly.

                Your very squeamish when it comes to these things, and indeed they are weighty and take some wrestling with, but they need to be pondered. I highly encourage you to look more into this. This site should get you started, it has some good stuff:


                and about how its not important to talk about what informs your morals. I think its very important. If your going to try to do away with my morals and my God, I’d like to know what you are offering as an alternative, if you even have one. Just curious.

                Repent and believe in Christ “truth”,
                theres no hope for you anywhere else

                • Truth

                  Yeah, you tried to justify Old Testament slavery by citing the… New Testament. And now Wilberforce proves that Christianity is anti-slavery. Some Christians did have a problem with slavery, but your god certainly didn’t.

                  Why should I care that Israel was a theocracy, any more than I care that Iran is a theocracy? It doesn’t justify anything.

                  The fact of the matter is, the ‘god’ you worship is fond of slaughtering innocents. So no, I will not ‘repent’ from my current position that murdering innocents is wrong, that genocide is wrong, to become an apologist for impaling the babies and children of the Amalekites with spears – like you. I will not become an apologist for stoning in ancient Israel, like you. I will not become an apologist for slavery in ancient Israel, like you.

                  “God can take anyones life, he has the right to as God, he often uses ordinary means to accomplish that.” How very revealing. God has a ‘right’ to command the murder of small children, or to command a 9/11. I wouldn’t be proud of this admission, you’re saying that you’re capable of murdering a child in cold blood, if you believed that’s what your god wanted. Or a 9/11.

                  • Ian

                    Your dealing with Islam and Christianity as one in the same is very obtuse. You think they are both equally invalid, that their merit is identical, very ignorant.

                    You have a problem with God being able to take peoples lives, but hes God, hes allowed to, because the fact that you seem to shy away from is that we are all sinners. children and all. Its not that God is unjustly being wrathful on some uber-righteous group, innocent of everything. People are sinners, you dont seem to have a category for that, so you wont be able to understand. “The fact of the matter is, the ‘god’ you worship is fond of slaughtering INNOCENTS”(emphasis added) that right there is very revealing.
                    Check out that link I sent you, because I cant satisfactorily go into God’s sovereignty and justice adequately in a thread. That material you really should engage.

                    The NT can speak to the OT, the God of the OT is the same God of the NT, so when slavery is dealt with in the NT in the ways that ive said about 2 times now, with the masters not being harsh, allowing slaves to be freed if they can. etc etc. it is the same God, and the same opinion. And the Christians that did have a problem with slavery had a problem with it because of what they read in the Bible, the conviction that slaves are our fellow brothers, and that there is neither jew nor greek, slave nor free, but all are one in Christ.

                    Now “Truth”, ive put up and spent the time responding to your complaints with Christianity, and answered your questions as best time and space permits, but why wont you answer any of my questions? like the ones at the bottom of my last comment.
                    What informs your morals?
                    Why do your morals matter?
                    Ive gotten nothing from you on these, and if im not going to please just let me know.
                    and again I encourage you to seek the truth, stop leaning on your own faulty understanding, and repent of your wickedness.

                    • Truth

                      They are equally invalid, yes, but not equally evil. Most Christians are not fundamentalists, like you, but most Muslims are. You are as evil as an Islamist. The Old Testament laws that you say were moral at the time are exactly like Sharia law. You are the moral relativist, because you say that stoning, genocide and slavery were right when your god commands then, and not right when some other person has a delusion that his god commanded it.

                      Nice excuse, everyone is guilty, and deserves to be butchered. Sounds like anyone who wants to murder people, regardless of whether or not they have done something wrong – Charles Manson or Muhammad Atta. Your “God-given morality” prevents you from even considering children innocent, and therefore exempt them from your defense of savage butchery. After all, you think that butchering the children and babies of the Amalekites was a very moral action.

                      I haven’t answered your question, because this questions needs to be resolved first: whether or not your Christian Sharia is ‘God-given morality’.

                      “You have a problem with God being able to take peoples lives, but hes God, hes allowed to”. Then your ‘god’ is not bound by any moral standard, and he is not ‘good’ in any way. Your little book could as well have commanded marriage to 5-year-old girls, and you would be telling me how “moral” that is, because your god says it, and “hes allowed to”. Leaving aside completely the fact that there is no god, and that this is simply a license for ignorant men to kill and butcher people they don’t like.

                      I will not be “repenting from my wickedness”. I will continue to disapprove of slavery. I will continue to point out that genocide is evil. I will continue to point out that killing children is wrong. Much to the dismay of you and your fellow Christian Sharia advocates.

                    • Ian

                      Im replying here “Truth” because it wouldn’t let me reply to your latest post.

                      I think its about time that what informs your morals takes center stage if we are going to keep discussing.

                      You have so many problems with my view, but you wont bring forth yours to the light of scrutiny. How can we discuss if you wont be forthright with me?

                      Why are these things evil? What makes you say so? You have certainly emotionally supercharged this exchange, you are upset with me and my view, but why? What foundation do you have for that?

                      “fellow sharia advocates” oh that’s rich. I’m not out there murdering people, I don’t own slaves, and I’m not out there encouraging others to do any of that. Im not killing children, and Im vehemently against abortion, something I suspect you are for. Seriously, I’m sure now that you haven’t looked at the material I sent you, so surely your just here to grind your axe, honestly, the links that i sent on that web page get to the heart of your complaints, check them out.

                      “You are as evil as an Islamist”- Yowzers! Evil by what standard? this secret standard you wont divulge to me? To this I say yes. I am as evil as an islamist(think you meant Muslim), and so are you,
                      “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands;no one seeks for God.All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;no one does good,not even one.Their throat is pan open grave;they use their tongues to deceive.The venom of asps is under their lips.Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.There is no fear of God before their eyes.”Romans 3:10-18 THIS is why God can do whatever he pleases with his creatures, and this is why we need the Gospel!

                      “Leaving aside completely the fact that there is no god, and that this is simply a license for ignorant men to kill and butcher people they don’t like.”- uhhh that’s an axiom, not an argument

                      “Your little book could as well have commanded marriage to 5-year-old girls, and you would be telling me how “moral” that is”-Wow, what a sweet looking straw man you’ve go there.

                      “I haven’t answered your question, because this questions needs to be resolved first: whether or not your Christian Sharia is ‘God-given morality’.” -Nice dodge, but we are both resolved on this issue. Me, yes. You, no, and I don’t think either one of us is going to make any inroads. So out with it, what would you hold up in the bible’s stead? If my morality is just a man made concoction, and so is yours, why argue? Whose would be valid? Who could know?

                      Im not here to grind axes, I get no pleasure out of these exchanges, i was just trying to inform you and discuss, but you’re not here to learn even what I think, when I point you to resources you clearly don’t look at them, and you wont even show me what world view you offer instead. So unless I get to see what you would offer me I’m done with this. Show me where you get your morals, and why they should be respected or don’t expect a reply from me.I will not be a pillow for your tantrums anymore.

                    • Truth

                      As expected, you’re completely incapable of defending your extreme views. You also won’t answer any question. For example, would 9/11 be justified if the hijackers were commanded to do what they did by your god? Would the Holocaust be justified, if Hitler was commanded by your god to kill the Jews? I’m afraid that you have no morals – you simply call blind obedience to whatever evil you are commanded to do “morality”. And you have the gall to condemn Islamist supporters of Sharia, who do the same as you do?

                      You protest that you not killing children. But I never said that you’re killing children. I said that you defend the killing of children. You also defend slavery and stoning. Predictably, you are a “pro-life” defender of killing children. Your main concern is obviously not children, or you would oppose the killing of children even when your god does or commands it, but taking away the rights of women – same as your Islamist friends.

                      How is my argument about marrying 5-year-olds a strawman? You are saying that what your god commands is necessarily good. So why would that not apply to marrying 5-year-olds, as some Muslims do? You probably realize that you would look bad if you admitted that you would obey such a disgusting commandment, and therefore label it a strawman, even though it is not.

                      I do not see how it is productive to discuss morality with a man who is fine with the killing of children, but whatever. So let’s assume that I did follow today’s accepted morals, as you claim. Would that make me as bad as you are? No. You follow the morality of savage men who slaughtered and stoned children, as opposed to much more civilized men of today. The latter is objectively superior. For one, it never leads people to justify the murder of actual children, which is what your God-given morals do.

                      That is actually not my view. But even your strawman version of my view is superior to yours. My views is that morality is acting with justice. Justice is giving each person what he deserves. This may shock you, but an innocent Amalekite child does not deserve to be slaughtered.

                      You’re not trying to “inform” me. You’ve told me to repent of my “wickedness” (which is opposing the murder of children, opposing slavery, stoning and genocide), or else.

    • http://southerngospelyankee.wordpress.com yankeegospelgirl

      I agree, Eric. I hate to say it, but I agree with every word.

    • Jill

      So you indirectly voted for Obama.

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  • Garey

    I believe strongly in the social and moral values that you are espousing, I am sure your comments factual base and historical accuracy are beyond reproach, if fact you have given Ms Westwood a great scolding, a classic lecture from an mature intellectual with a vast understanding of the subject matter to a sophomore who dares to view the issue (loss) from a different paradigm. I am a father and a grandfather and this was reminiscent of some of the lectures I have given my children. I always felt a little embarrassed when I stopped talking long enough to hear a point worth making …
    I think in this case you may have made Sarah’s point better than she could have without your help. You may have recited every word but I don’t think you were listening. I don’t think the GOP is listening.
    I am not sure from her comments if her moral views are flawed or if she mealy points out that in her opinion GOP social agenda is flawed, both may be true, but we seem to get so tangled in the defense of our own morality as it relates to politics that we can’t see (choose not to see) common ground.
    The moral crises in the country will not going to be solved by the politicians in Washington, the GOP can’t fix that for us, Jesus didn’t look to Cesar or to tax collectors to legislate or decree morality, and in fact He expected the contrary. Why then do we expect more from the GOP?
    I was glad to hear a sophomore step out of the box, acknowledge we lost and question why are we doing it this way, does it make sense, should we rethink it? These are questions of wisdom I find inspiring.
    The social and moral crises will be solved in our home, our heart, our community and our church so let’s take personal responsibility for that at home, and explore an approach that will elect officials who will defend our ability to do so.

    • Jill

      What the sophomore said is what’s been circulating among those who want GOP reform after the election. Her writings are nothing new. What Carter did was rip every sentence she wrote apart by giving his own analysis and opinion.

  • Paul

    Aside from the bitterness and vitriol that bristles from this post, what stood out most to me was the irony…namely, much of the GOP has chained itself to an idea hatched by then-12-year-old Grover Norquist (the “no tax” pledge). But I guess THAT 12 year old was a child worth listening to.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/joecarter Joe Carter

      But I guess THAT 12 year old was a child worth listening to.

      Personally, I don’t think so. I think Norquist pledge is one of the dumbest things that conservatives every signed on to. I’ve never understood why so many conservative politicians bind themselves to a libertarian like Norquist rather than to conservative principles.

      • Paul

        Joe, I’m happy to hear you say that, even though it undercuts my point. I guess I shouldn’t have jumped to the conclusion that just because you are conservative you would be on board with Norquist (to be fair, though, it’s been rare for me to run into conservatives who are not).

  • silverwing

    Both of you guys are wrong. The GOP doesn’t need to go far-left/libertarian on social issues, but it also can’t keep being the “stupid party” as Bobby Jindal recently pointed out. I am a Republican, (and a Protestant) and I find the far-right social cons to be toxic to the Republican brand and a saddening embarresment to my religion. Denying scientifically acclaimed evidence about the environment and human history, making retarded statements about rape-induced pregnancy, calling for more invasions of middle east countries; Republicans can’t stop stepping in this stuff because they’ve been influenced by biblical literalist nut-bags. Ronald Reagan was a hollywood actor and divorced, those 2 things alone would prevent him from passing the litmus test of today’s GOP. Social conservatism is good, but Republicans need to tone it down some and embrace science, intellectualism, and modernity. If they want to remain a big tent party and win at least 50% of the population in elections, the future of the GOP will have to look like John Huntsman with a little Ron Paul sprinkled in for conservative authenticity.

  • Jill

    I agree with what you said, Joe, for the most part. But the girl is just a kid … did you really have to humiliate her this way? It is very typical of her (a libertarian Repub.) to suggest what she suggested, not really wisdom as one poster claimed it was.