The atheist Christopher Hitchens used to argue that religion was useful for getting good and conscientious people to do wicked things. Politics can be used in the same way. Those two candidates could only have advanced so far because American politics is so tightly wired to our fears and hatreds. Why would anyone decent support either of them — unless on some level you feared and hated the other side?
.. Asked if he could unequivocally state that he never dated a teenager when he was in his thirties, Moore replied: “It would be out of my customary behavior.”
.. I’d like to advance the political case against letting fear and hatred lead us to consistently lower our standards and lend our support to the ambitions of less and less worthy people.
.. First, there is is the argument from credibility. Every social conservative who supports Moore is increasing the cynicism of American society and justifying widespread skepticism about the sincerity of Christian belief among conservatives. People are reminded frequently that Christian conservatives once demanded that Bill Clinton resign in shame for carrying on an affair with a White House intern. Now some of those supposedly godly men, or their sons, defend Moore’s predation of teenaged girls on the grounds that even a child predator is better than a Democrat. This instrumentalism will eventually make it impossible for social conservatives to defend any of their preferred policies.
.. The country won’t give consent to pro-life laws if they have good reason to suspect their advocates are insincere. And the public will shrug at the abrogation of religious liberties if it thinks these amount to privileges for hypocrites.
.. You cannot be a good citizen of your country if your immediate political interests outrank every other good in the commonweal. And You cannot be a good citizen of your country if your immediate political interests outrank every other good in the commonweal. And citizenship requires some self-abnegnation, even some risk. Advancing a man of Roy Moore’s character to the Senate worsens public life in obvious ways.
- He’s unethical.
- He flouts the law.
- And he is peculiarly holier than thou.
Telling yourself that “this is war, and in war you have to make less than ideal choices” is a great way to excuse the destruction of your charity and the lifting of restraint, with collateral damage to your integrity.
.. Choosing the lesser of two evils is a fantastic way to prepare yourself to do worse and worse evils. And following it to the end is a bitter fate indeed. The worst tragedies of recent history were driven by masses of people giving in to existential fear and hatred. There are many alive today in Central and Eastern Europe who made themselves into Fascists or Communists in order to resist or avenge the Communists and the Fascists. But the names we remember and revere are often those who carefully and bravely stood apart.