Who better to take aim on Ayn Rand and her Congressional budget
followers (Paul Ryan, etc.) than George Bush’s speechwriter, a
conservative, an Evangelical and a Republican by the name of Michael
Gerson. Gerson clearly understands the implications of the Republican
budget proposal and rejects its core underpinnings.
libertarians trace their inspiration to Rand’s novels, while sometimes
distancing themselves from Objectivism. But both libertarians and
Objectivists are moved by the mania of a single idea — a freedom
indistinguishable from selfishness. This unbalanced emphasis on one
element of political theory — at the expense of other public goals such
as justice and equal opportunity — is the evidence of a rigid ideology.
Socialists take a similar path, embracing equality as an absolute value.
Both ideologies have led good people into supporting policies with
serious human costs.
Gerson is representative of the best of
American Evangelicalism, with its long history from the Great
Awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries. These waves of religious
revivalism may have played a role in the development of the concepts, or
at least the understanding of democracy. The nineteenth century
Awakening emphasized social responsibility and what many in the early
20th century called the social gospel. Although the awakening differs
somewhat from the 20th century Social Gospel, both have a rigorous
belief in the importance of community and the responsibility of the
“haves’ to care for the poor. Gerson’s beliefs differ significantly from
the rampant, irresponsible individualism of many in today’s
Curiously, perhaps only coincidentally,
David Brooks most recent column has an oblique reference to “rigorous
theology.” In a response to the hot Broadway play, “The Book of
Mormon,” he has written a masterful analysis of true religion with its
focus on service and community. Brooks, a well-educated Jew, often
refers to the insights about the social gospel, the goodness and evil of
the human in the writings of the Protestant Christian, Reinhold
Niebuhr. Always intriguing.
Since it is Easter, Passover season, I
was curious to find out whether the well-known Catholic columnist of the
Post, E.J. Dionne, would write reflective of his Catholic background
emphasis upon community.
Yep. In his latest column Dionne
indicts the ruling class for its utter failure of social responsibility.
(Thank you, Grover Norquist).
Charity and good deeds are always
important in the Islamic faith, so I’m waiting for an American Muslim
writer to surface in our leading news outlets. That, I’m certain, would
Still, with a Jew, Protestant and
Catholic represented among our top national columnists, I sleep a lot
better at night, and don’t worry too much about the current idiocies. A
bit of sanctified nonchalance goes a long way.