Christianists vs Giuliani


His defense of individual freedom is anathema to them. It's important to understand that the current Republican definition of conservatism is about religion, not politics. Terry Jeffrey puts it very candidly:

Giuliani's positions on abortion and marriage disqualify him as a conservative because they annihilate the link between the natural law and man-made laws. Indeed, they use man-made law to promote and protect acts that violate the natural law.

If you want to know what he means by "natural law," check out Chapter Three in "The Conservative Soul," "The Theoconservative Project." For the theocons, natural law certainly trumps individual liberty:

The late Russell Kirk argued in The Conservative Mind that the first canon of conservatism is "[b]elief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems ... True politics is the art of apprehending and applying the Justice which ought to prevail in a community of souls."

Other Christianists are much blunter about Giuliani's heretically secular instincts. Here's Tony Perkins, a major figure in the Republican base:

"He's the front runner but it's kind of like here in DC, you drive over the Potomac at night and it looks beautiful but if you get down near it you certainly wouldn't want to take anything out of it and eat it. It's polluted it's got problems."

I couldn't disagree more. And that is the core divide in contemporary conservatism: between fundamentalism and freedom, between a politics based on divine revelation and Thomist law-making and a politics based on man-made law and individual liberty. Giuliani is running as a secular, modern conservative to run what has become a religious, theological party. His fate is going to be a fascinating insight into what American conservatism can now mean. And the Christianists are not going to put up with secular, inclusive, reality-based conservatism.

(Photo: Jeff Fusco/Getty.)