This week was the culmination of the Republican primary war between Sen. Mitch McConnell and former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, which former Trump advisor Steve Bannon publicly jumped into during the last several days. I hope you’ll find my short letters to them insightful regarding the real war that was being fought.
Dear Senator McConnell:
I saw an article after the election that said you and those in the Republican Party who think like you will “likely fall back on their old pitch to voters that their . . . candidates are more ‘pragmatic’ and are able to get things done.”
When someone is said to be a pragmatist, I know either they don’t know what that term means and are using it incorrectly, or they truly are using the term correctly. In your case, I do believe they are using the term correctly. I believe pragmatism is your governing philosophy, and that, Senator, is my problem.
My problem with pragmatism is that it is actually the product of a worldview that says there are no transcendent truths by which our decisions and actions can be guided, so we just go with “what works.” Essentially, pragmatism says whatever seems to work is what is “true,” even though our experience should teach us that what we often think will work doesn’t, particularly over the long haul.
Pragmatism puts the focus on immediate effects and results, which is only natural because, as human beings, we just can’t see too far into the future. But that leads to “kicking the can down the road” when it comes to solving problems, which is what you and your colleagues do on most things, assuming you even do anything.
So, Sen. McConnell, I really don’t mind that you are “established” in office so much as the fact that I believe you to be a moral relativist who embraces pragmatism.
So, I’m glad when candidates who align with your way of thinking lose to someone like Judge Moore. May the “success” you had last Tuesday continue.
Dear Mr. Bannon:
First, let me say that I appreciated your support for Judge Moore, and I do hope you and the good folks of Alabama can carry him to victory in the General Election.
But, alas, sir, from the comments you made about Pope Francis’ views on immigration, I’ve come to believe that you, too, are a pragmatist, just one with a different set of answers than those of Sen. McConnell.
It’s not that I necessarily agree with the pope’s views on immigration; to be honest, I don’t know what they are. What troubled me was your statement that you respect “the bishops on doctrine” but “this is not about doctrine,” and that on this issue, “they’re just another guy with an opinion.”
Your relegation of Scripture to matters of religious doctrine only and its utter irrelevance to issues like immigration is a form of pragmatism that allows people to have religious beliefs so long as they keep those views in their “spiritual” place and don’t let them get in the way of what works relative to the “real” world.
The pope may not have applied scriptural truths to this issue accurately, but at least he’s not denying their relevance to the problems we face.
I may like your solutions to any number of issues better than those of Sen. McConnell, but in the final analysis, I believe you both come from the same worldview. Anyway, I again thank you for helping Justice Moore through the primary.
Dear Justice Moore:
I am so delighted you got through the primary. I don’t know that I will agree with all the positions you take, but I do agree with the foundational worldview out of which your positions will come.
I thank you for being bold enough to actually contend for the proposition that there is a Creator God and that the Scriptures give us real truth about the nature of the cosmos, why things are the way they are, and what we need to do for things to improve.
I know many people today may choose not to believe that, and I know other well-meaning people try to find a way to get around the fact that the Bible’s authors seemed to think that that’s what they were doing. But you don’t back down from your beliefs, and that makes those pragmatists who actually understand the difference between their worldview and yours really come after you. Thankfully, however, those pragmatists who don’t like Sen. McConnell’s pragmatic conclusions will still support you.
Hang in there and Godspeed. I would love to see Sen. McConnell and pragmatists everywhere have to deal with someone like you.
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.
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