About a week ago, I posted an article about guns. Now actually I didn't go into gun control at all, or what the legal ramifications should be; but I did talk about why I, as a Christian, have a different view of guns than I used to have.
And wow, was that post far more popular--or, I guess I should say, unpopular--than I expected. Within about 48 hours, it had become one of the most commented-upon posts in the past six months, and I got plenty of emails, texts, and tweets about it. Some were quite respectful and thoughtful...others were, shall we say, less so.
One interesting question that came up--and which I have been asked before on my blog--is, "Are you a conservative or not?"
Much to my surprise, that has turned into a tough question. As I wrote about the other day, sometimes emptying yourself into God takes you in a surprising new direction.
The 2004 election would have been about the time that I think I was at my most-political phase. Though my parents were/are moderate-to-liberal, I always identified closer with my staunchly Republican grandparents and uncle. They tend to be more neo-conservative than I was; I always identified closer with paleo-conservatives. Paleoconservatives want ALL federal government to be small, whereas neocons want defense and homeland security budgets to be extraordinarily high; paleocons also want to be minimally involved in foreign policy, whereas neocons are very aggressive in that department; and paleocons want some government regulation of markets, while neocons are fully libertarian with regard to free market capitalism.
So I was never really a full neocon, like the Republicans of the last decade, but certainly I was still staunchly Republican--I had far more in common with them than with liberals.
During this time, I loved debating politics. I read a lot about it. I studied the history of various philosophies to know where they came from. I studied the issues in depth. And I loved to try and convert others.
But a strange thing happened in the last decade. God has changed me a lot.
Has He made me liberal? Not hardly. Libertarian? No. Populist? No. Conservative?...No.
Something funny has happened on my way to the voting booth. Christ has taken my passion for politics and swallowed it up. I simply cannot make myself get fired up about it like I used to.
I no longer believe that politics is a force which will shape our world for good. I no longer believe there is a party out there who consistently will represent God's interests.
As I've grown closer to God, I've grown further from the politicians. I suppose if I was paying attention that shouldn't surprise me, but it did nonetheless.
And so now, I find myself a strange mismatch of all kinds of beliefs. Going to the voting booth is becoming far more confusing. (In fact, take a historical tour of my 'politics' tag and you will see the complexity of where my head is at nowadays.) I have become increasingly convinced that if you agree with 90% of what one party is saying, then you haven't honestly considered about 90% of what they are saying!
In some ways I am more extremist conservative than I ever was before. As I wrote four years ago, a consistent pursuit of God has resulted in me having a truly pro-life policy: I oppose abortion in any form (unless the mother's life is in imminent danger, in which case it is a wash), I oppose capital punishment for any crime except murder, I oppose all forms of cloning, I oppose all forms of active euthanasia, I oppose destruction of embryos for any kind of research, and I oppose any war that does not meet ALL requirements of the Christian Just War philosophy. And, as I found a week ago, I now oppose using lethal force against home invaders.
So is this a conservative position or not? It is a rather mixed bag, isn't it? Some parts would be seen as moderate, some as extremely liberal, most as extremist conservative.
I have found that to be true in most other areas of politics as well. I have become much more compassionate toward those struggling in poverty, toward those needing to be adopted, and to immigrants. As such I have become more liberal on those issues. I have also become increasingly sick of hearing conservative Christians pretend as though we are being persecuted because someone wishes us a Happy Holidays, while some of our brothers and sisters are being beheaded for owning Bibles in the Middle East. Geez, perspective people.
In many other areas, however, I have remained staunchly paleoconservative, probably even moreso than I ever was before. I believe in a strong national defense but not as strong as the neocons. I believe in pro-life to a level that I never did before. I believe we should have a balanced budget, not failing as a nation to pay our debts.
So to answer the question of those many readers...am I a conservative?
Politically, I'm a "nothing." Even saying idependent seems wrong--I simply do not fit any grouping, nor do I seem to care. (In the past I have called this the Treebeard approach to politics.) I know that I am a Christian. And I know that Christ is in the process of changing me into something. Whenever I get there, if there is a political term for it, I'll let you know. (I doubt there will be.)
Until then, I guess I'll just call myself a WIP--work in progress.