Well that didn’t take long

Well that didn’t take long November 7, 2012

Somebody wrote to emotionally defecate on me:

“so how do you feel now, Mark, knowing that you helped reelect the Butcher of Kenya? you are the traitor here, and no one else. I sincerely hope you repent before you die. The supreme court will be the biggest death panel in the history of the world, thanks to those who helped usher in the true Dark Ages, which begin this very night.”

My reply: Thank you for that hysterical rant. Here’s some reality: I did not help elect Obama since I did not vote for him. I didn’t owe Romney my vote since I do not work for him nor for the GOP. He was applying for a job from me and his qualifications, like Obama’s were unacceptable so I refused to hire them. Dems believe we belong to the State. Movement “Conservatives” believe we belong to the Party. These are lies. They work for us, not we for them. The Right needs to stop living in utter delusion and begin to treat with reality again if it hopes to succeed. First hint: when you nominate a candidate as crappy as Mitt Romney, consider the possibility that when you get your butt handed you, it’s not because some obscure blogger would not eat the crap sandwich, but because you stupidly nominated an incredibly crappy candidate and then insisted everybody eat a crap sandwich. That’s stupid politics, and people who practice stupid politics lose and deserve to lose. Here is what, right now, the Thing that Used to be Conservatism should be focused on: “What did we do wrong? How can we do better next time?” First step: stop believing idiots who tell you that Obama is a Kenyan, as well as every other stupid paranoid conspiracy theory pedaled by FOX and World Nut Daily. That’s living in illusion. You need to face reality.

So, for instance when I post a link to a story like this, detailing just how crazy the Right can be and linking all the source materials documenting that fact, the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism has not, for 10 years, typically said “Yikes! That’s pretty bad! What can we do to learn from our mistakes and not foster belief in idiotic conspiracy theories, but rather treat with reality?”

Instead, the typical response is “Eek! A ritually impure source of information! Anybody who gets information from that source is bad and all the information that source relays is worthless because it was relayed by that source and not by ritually pure sources who tell me what I already think, always condemn my enemies, always tell me how good and smart I am, and never ask me to think anything that discomforts me or challenges my tribe’s penchant for loony conspiracy theories.” What that results in, over time, is things like last night, where a shocked “conservative” movement was stunned to discover that all the predictions of a Romney win–a Romney *landslide* if you please–were bunk promulgated by people who were not treating with reality. Now there is a great temptation to continue the pattern the Right has pursued for 10 years: looking for heretics, seeking fifth columnists to blame, searching for conspiracies, and kicking people like me as baby-killing “traitors” because we could not muscle down the load of bull that Mitt Romney was selling as he advocated for grave instrinsic evil (including, yes, abortion “for the health of the mother”). This is a stupid course to pursue, unless you want to keep losing.

Happily, there remain, on the Right, conservatives who are actually able to conserve things and learn from the past. If the Right wants to actually win in the future they need to honor and promote such people, and stop honoring and promoting people who encourage them to live in illusion.

Here is more reality. The Thing that Used to be Conservatism did not lose because of a conspiracy, or because some guy on a blog was so prolife that he refused to vote for a GOP pro-abort as well as a Dem one. It did not lose because Dark Forces were in league against us. It did not lose because the American electorate has been taken over by fiends and fools. The proportion of fiends and fools is relatively stable in our history. It did not lose because the governor of a state slammed by Sandy took his responsibility to the people of NJ as a priority over politics or said “Thank you” to Obama for helping hurting people, thereby revealing himself as a monstrous turncoat. The Thing That Used to be Conservatism lost because “conservatives”, of their own free will, chose to nominate Willard Mitt Romney.

There’s your problem right there.

And your secondary problem–as with the choice to pretend Romney was “prolife”, and to nominate John McCain, and pretend Sarah Palin was a brilliant choice, and support the Iraq War, and support Bush and a brutal draft-dodger Veep who said “deficits don’t matter” and lie that torture is an American value compatible with the faith and do the many other stupid things the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism has done–is that instead of learning from our sins and mistakes and repenting them, we have instead chosen to surround ourselves with a leadership and a pundit class that tells us our failures are somebody else’s fault. It’s the media’s fault. It’s Obama’s fault. It’s Hollywood’s fault. It’s the fault of third party voters and bloggers with some miniscule readership. (Fun Fact: So far each state reporting an Obama victory won it with at least 50% of the vote. Which means all those people who voted 3rd party instead of Romney had nothing to do with Obama winning re-election.)

No. It’s the fault of the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism. Romney was a terrible candidate. His campaign consisted, in large measure, of telling the rank and file to shut up and get in line. It consisted of ordering people to not believe their own two eyes when this cynical duplicitous liar claimed to be prolife and then made very clear that he supported abortion for “the health of the mother”. It consisted of telling the workihg class and troops living below the poverty line that this bought-and-paid-for plutocrat who dismissed them as part of the 47% cared about them. It consisted of telling people who knew perfectly well that this liar–who forced Catholic hospitals to dispense the morning after pill and assured women that no employer could stand in the way of their contraceptive candy–was serious about the HHS mandate. It consisted of believing that this man who surrounded himself with exactly the circle of maniacs who unleashed the Iraq War would be for peace; and this man who railed at Obama’s weakness in foreign policy could be trusted when he agreed with almost every syllable of it in the debate. It consisted, in short, of completely selling its soul to support a man who was a moral void–and then shouting at those who could *see* he was a moral void that *they* were the problem.

The Thing That Used to be Conservatism is very seriously sick and will die if it does not recover its bearings. I want a healthy conservatism because I want somebody who can credibly oppose the evils of the Left. The way to get that is for the Thing that Used to be Conservatism to become conservative again: to do what the 12 step groups call a “fearless moral inventory” and to stop lying to itself. I don’t say that in order to “save America”. America is terminally mortal, like all earthly things. I hope it prospers for a good long while. But that’s because I hope for a stable civil society in which the Real Story–the progress of the gospel–can continue unmolested. That hope is dimming because the GOP could not produce a candidate capable of beating “the worst President in history” as they perpetually tell the faithful. If Obama really is that terrible, what does it say about how wretched a candidate Romney was that he could not beat him? My concern is and always has been the way in which our politics is increasingly corrupting of our Faith, and in no small measure the way in which it has taught Christians to look first for somebody else to blame when the GOP loses. The Thing that Used to Be Conservatism should have undertaken a massive reassessment when it launched a war in defiance of the Church’s guidance and found no weapons of mass destruction. Instead it lied that the war was really about Iraqi freedom. It should have done it when it plumped for torture. Instead it lied that it was “enhanced interrogation” and was keeping us safe. It should have done it when it said “Deficits don’t matter”. Instead, it helped drive the economy into the ground. It should have done it when it lionized Glenn Beck and drank in every nutty conspiracy theory it could. Instead, it clings to the nuts. It should have done it when it took a pounding in 2008. Instead, it simply flushed the Bush years down the memory hole and learned nothing from McCain’s defeat. And it should have done it when it nominated Mitt Romney. Instead, it shushed every warning about the guy and tried to run a campaign of shouting at people to shut up and trust him. Perhaps now, at last, it will take a good hard look at the world of illusion it has woven around itself.

The way out of illusion is simple and hard: repent and believe the good news. Jesus remains the way, the truth, and the life. I can’t guarantee he will help the GOP win any power. It’s not really his thing. And if we go to him seeking earthly power first we will get nothing. But I can guarantee he will help people live in reality and not illusion. And if we seek first his kingdom, we have it on good authority that other good things will be given. But first we have to really seek first his kingdom.

I’m hopeful that now, at long last, maybe that painful process will begin.

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  • jplsr

    Romney was not nominated by the conservatives. He was nominated by the Republicans, that is to say, the establishment political class that hates conservatives. After a particularly vicious primary campaign in which he knocked down every other contender by using massive TV ad campaigns financed by the Gods of Capitalism, he became the default candidate leaving conservatives no choice. Although a lot of mindless, trunk-waving pachyderms became his enthusiastic supporters, he ended up getting 7 million fewer votes than McCain, who was in himself another disaster.

  • Dan Grimm

    It’s hard to see how Ron Paul could win the general election if he couldn’t win the primary. It may be more emotionally satisfying to support and vote for a candidate who is right about more things, but how can we indulge the idea that such a person would get elected? Democracy means we pretty much get the government the electorate wants. We don’t have a failure of the selection process, but of the evangelization process.

    • Mark Shea

      I never indulged the fantasy that Ron Paul would be elected.

    • Jarrad Faulk

      When the republican primary was down to Paul and Romney, Ron Paul consistently polled higher in a head to head than Romney. He may not have won, but he was the only game changer of the bunch.

      • Humphrey

        Ron Paul was the only real candidate He is very decent ALWAYS PRO-LIFE, which many use as a political tool. Dr.Paul delivered over 4000 babies YES he out polled Romney every single time Rasmussen Poll showed Paul the ONLY candidate that could beat Obummer, But that being said Obama is the worst President in the history of this country. and as far as wars go Bush was Bush lite compared to the Mass Murderer Obama. Paul’s supporters were treated terribly by GOP they sent a clear message Romney would have won with their support, America had a Chance with Ron Paul they blew it so enjoy your endless wars and economic collapse

    • Rick

      Ron Paul would have won if the GOP Establishment didn’t back stab every Ron Paul supporter including what happened at the RNC. http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/item/12645-rnc-disenfranchises-delegates-rigs-rules-to-nominate-romney/12645-rnc-disenfranchises-delegates-rigs-rules-to-nominate-romney?start=3

  • Jarrad Faulk

    Pardon me. Head to head with Obama.

  • sal magundi

    a powerful article. some of the sentences belong in Sentence Valhalla. many encouraging comments too. i’ll bookmark this site.
    i voted for johnson, because he’s right on militarism and right on surveillance. i understand that he’s morally libertarian, but militarism is immoral too and one of the encouraging things in the comments is the number of posters who realize that.

  • maggie

    The Republicans articulated their positions so poorly, one wonders if they really stood for anything at all. That to me was the problem, embodied in the singular personality of their candidate, Romney.

  • D Bro

    Thanks for sticking to your guns. Romney was elected by the GOP, not the people of the party. If Romney and the GOP had played fair with the Ron Paul freedom loving crowd, we may not have liked it, but we would have voted for Romney. Because of that, no Ron Paul people voted for him and he lost Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Ron Paul had over 100,000 votes in the primary in Florida. Romney lost Florida by 47,000 votes. Do the math. Ron Paul would have beaten Obama. As a conservative are we pro-life, pro-constitution, for fiscal responsibility, want civil liberties restored? How about declared wars? Ron Paul was all of these, Romney was not and that is why he got so little support and votes. He thought he was Rockefeller, buying the election. I would rather have 4 more years of Obama than 8 years of Romney. If you are a conservative, you better be pushing true conservatives and true conservative ideas as choosing the less of two evils has lead us down this road to ruin. Do not give up the fight!

  • RLM

    Reading this rant, two things come to mind. I will mention the one that is hardest to say first and then move onto the second point, which I actually make so as to bolster your argument.
    The first is that, while I do not disagree in the main with your assessment of the conservative movement, I don’t know why when I read it in your words, it makes me want to disagree with you. This is despite the fact that I could not bring myself to vote for Bush in ’04, who by some counts was a better candidate than Romney. I don’t believe in being “nice” for the sake of niceness, but I also don’t get the impression from this that you are speaking out of charity for those whom you believe to be mistaken. It comes across more as a “I told you so” kind of rant. Take that for what it’s worth, but please know that it comes from someone who used to be a diehard liberal/Democrat and who, over time and with the help of some intelligent and sincere right-leaning Catholic friends, came to see that big government does not make for a compassionate society. In other words, this is not coming from someone who believes that Catholic = Republican.
    My second thought comes from reading the comments on articles and opinion pieces at NRO and WSJ about how Republicans need to drop the social issues and just focus on promoting a libertarian agenda. In other words, drop their base of social conservatives and focus on “the economy, stupid!” So, in fact, there may come a time when both parties will be very similar with respect to abortion, gay marriage, etc. Given how things may go, I pray that my fellow Catholics on both the right and the left stop looking to politics and government as the solution to the problem, when the problem itself is cultural. In the past, the temptation to see government as the saviour of culture has been strongest on the left, but I think conservatives have also been guilty of this of late. One of the many problems with the approach of using government to change culture is that we “win” not by winning hearts and minds, but by forcing our will using the coercive power of the state. (The drawbacks of this approach, by the way, is one reason I prefer a limited government, especially when we are talking about societies that lack cohesion or common values, as is our present case). So, all that is to say that, despite disagreeing with how you’ve chosen to make some of your points, I agree that this is a call for all Catholics to more faithfully live the Gospel.

  • Joe Hein

    Comment on: “Well, That didn’t take long…” – Mark Shea, November 7, 2012

    Mark, I’m not sure I disagree a whole lot with the many points you make. I, too, was disappointed with a Romney selection but the election was cast between two bad choices and responsible people have to deal with the reality that you must choose between the two. Of course, you don’t have to like either one! We all know that, but the points you raise, while more or less valid, do not absolve you from the duty to choose the lesser of the two evils.

    The Catholic Church teaches that there are five non-negotiables that Catholics simply cannot ignore. When both candidates are failing in, say, the matter of Abortion, we are advised to choose the one whose election will result in the least degree of evil. President Obama is clearly in favor of supporting abortion to the fullest extent. Romney favors abortion only in the case of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. Clearly, both men are advocating great evil here. There are somewhere between 1.2 and 1.4 million abortions performed in the United States each year. Estimates vary on the number for rape, incest, and the mother’s safety but I would put it somewhere around 2% or less. Even at 5%, that number would be around 65,000 babies.

    So, Obama plans to foster conditions allowing for 1,300,000 babies to be aborted and Romney plans to foster conditions allowing for 65,000 babies to be aborted. So, Mark, there are 1,235,000 babies out there (every year for the next four years) who most surely will be informing you on judgement day that you failed miserably in what your Faith calls you to do. That, sir, is scandalous and worthy of your reconsideration.

    • Mark Shea


      This and many other tired canards addressing the “vote Romney or you are going to HELL!” school of thought are addressed here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2012/10/its-the-big-election-super-fun-pak.html I voted as I did out of conscience. You don’t go to hell for doing your conscience.

      • Joe Hein

        Thank you for this link. While it was very helpful to clarify a few things for me, I feel like you put me in the wrong category (vote for Romney or you are going to Hell). I did not say anything of the sort. I did say that your action was scandalous and you should reconsider it.
        That said, one of the things I learned in this reading was that I had a false basis of understanding just how you had voted. I was under the impression (not sure how) that you did not vote for any candidate. I understand now that you voted for a fully pro-life candidate and I understand that to be well within the Church’s guideline. I retract my statement about being scandalous.
        However, let’s review a key section of the Voters Guide for Serious Catholics (emphasis added):
        “Catholics must strive to put in place candidates, laws, and political programs that are in full accord with non-negotiable moral values.
        1. Where a perfect candidate, law, or program is not on the table, we are to choose the best option, the one that promotes the greatest good and entails the least evil.
        2. Not voting may sometimes be the only moral course of action, but we must consider whether not voting actually promotes good and limits evil in a specific instance.
        3. The role of citizens and elected officials is to promote intrinsic moral values as much as possible today while continuing to work toward better candidates, laws, and programs in the future.”
        By voting for a fully pro-life candidate, you took the high moral road and that is worthy. I wish I and everyone else had done the same thing because then the greatest good would have been served. But that would have been about the most unlikely thing to happen and, therefore, I don’t think a reasonable person would view that as choosing “the best option”. A candidate is not “perfect” if he/she cannot win. To vote for him/her anyway serves a noble goal of saying where our society should be but it serves no purpose in promoting “the greatest good and … the least evil”; that is, the elimination and/or substantial reduction of the ongoing slaughter of the innocents. A candidate who can’t win can’t promote the greatest good. You might be making a great “statement” in voting for the (non-viable) prolife candidate but In terms of actually making headway in reducing the death of babies, it is about the same as not voting at all.
        So I think there is a “practical” value in my having voted for Romney. Had he won, we would be seeing some real, constructive outlooks for dramatically reducing abortions, appointments to the Supreme Court such that the outlook for overturning Roe v. Wade would be substantially improved, elimination of the conscience threat from HHS, etc.

        Think about it. The present calculations show Obama winning by 2.7% of the vote with 1.6% of the vote going for other than Romney or Obama. Had the “other” votes gone for Romney, he would be short only 1.1%. Had all the military ballots been processed, Romney might very well have won. That’s where point #3, above, would kick in and we go to work to get rid of all abortions.
        There are consequences for everything and with the Obama re-election, we are going to see very severe consequences. We are headed into a period of justice where we will get what we deserve as a country. Let’s agree on one thing; we need to pray for America as never before.

  • Will

    I suggest you look at this offering from one of your favorite cartoonists at http://books.google.com/books?id=Z2zgi0iOWlQC&pg=RA1-PT57&lpg=RA1-PT57&dq=punditbots+attack+nader&source=bl&ots=csAq0mOZQK&sig=Bd6K4FBIwTCHWvkCOt-84P1izno&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Cl-kUO7YDMK-0AGUzIHIBw&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAA
    Substitute “Shea” for “Nader” and “Rombot” for “Gorebot”.

    “Punditbots attack!”
    “Hope you’re happy now! Hope you’re happy now!”
    “Aarggh! Their whining is driving me crazy!”
    “That’s how it’s going to be for the NEXT FOUR YEARS,”

  • Kristin

    Mark, as a fellow Catholic and conservative, I appreciate your insight, but what about all the voters who stayed home? I agree, Romney was not perfect, but Romney/Ryan is a million times better than Obama/Biden. I also agree that it’s not earthly power that God desires, nor should we. The GOP loss has helped to put my priorities in order; God & salvation first; politics way down the list. This, to me, seems like Divine Providence. And, despite your loathing of Mitt Romney & Glenn Beck, I still think there is hope for their salvation as there is for mine, yours and all our brothers & sisters. God Bless.

    • Mark Shea

      Of course there is hope for their salvation. Saying that their political position and ideas are wrong is not saying anything about their standing before God. And you are right, by the way, in your re-ordered priorities. Well done!