Tardy Reflections on the Election | James Kalb | Ecclesia et Civitas | Catholic World Report
The November 2012 elections revealed that the Republicans believe in nothing, while the Democrats believe in Nothing.
A great many things might have changed the results in November. Hurricane Sandy might have headed into the Atlantic instead of the Atlantic states. Or moods might have shifted, so that memes like “the war against women” might have flopped rather than flown.
Still, there’s no explaining away what happened, and the re-election of Barack Obama, a pure representative of the media-bureaucratic complex and the intolerant social leftism it stands for, must show something. He may have won because the Republicans failed to come up with an appealing candidate and message, and not because the majority was smitten with his social views, but that failure must show something as well.
Many people have the sense that the election revealed a basic change in American life. What it shows is the extent to which advanced liberalism has become our established faith. It’s the one our most influential authorities accept and rely on, and they feel called upon to import its principles into all aspects of life. That’s why abortion is the law of the land and voters aren’t allowed to say otherwise. The election returns showed that they have grown used to that situation, and no longer find it seriously objectionable.
If that’s what the election showed, then it had to do with fundamental tendencies. On that point, it revealed that the Republicans believe in nothing, while the Democrats believe in Nothing.
To believe in nothing is to have no beliefs except success. Individual Republicans may be decent public-spirited people, and they are likely to believe on some level in other things, the role of marriage as a distinct fundamental institution, for example. The point though is that for the national party such issues aren’t taken seriously. They function as campaign slogans for particular audiences. What’s taken seriously is American power abroad, economic success at home, and victory for Republicans. That’s what the party, as a party, believes in.
Power and success are not bad things. Power is the ability to achieve goals, and success is actually bringing them about. Both are good as a general rule, and politicians should favor them, but they’re not enough for a political outlook that makes sense. Something more is needed to tell us what to aim for and what to do with it when achieved. The Republicans have nothing that serves that purpose.
The Democrats do: they have Nothing.