Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Generational change among evangelicals and their leaders

This NYT article uses the occasion of Jerry Falwell’s death to take stock of the rising generation of evangelical leaders (and followers). We learn that they’re not as political and that they have a broader agenda, not restricted to the culture war issues of their predecessors. But the culture war issues are still there and still, in the words of the unreadable Rick Warren, "nonnegotiable" (at least for the most part: there seems to be some question about gay marriage among some younger evangelicals).

It seems to me that President Bush and Senator Brownback have, on the broader agenda, tried to show how Republicans and conservatives can respond. If Republicans and conservatives don’t pay attention, they may find themselves losing the allegiance of these folks, without comparable replacements from elsewhere in the electorate; libertarians aren’t going to do it. I’m far from suggesting that Republicans and conservatives uncritically adopt the proposals that evangelicals have themselves uncritically adopted. But they can reach out and educate, offering analyses and solutions that reflect conservative judgments about the way the world works. The, for example, a well-worked out version of Bush’s "Opportunity Society," which focuses on opportunity and personal responsibility, and on the role of civil society in addressing human needs, is a plausible, and indeed powerful, alternative to the nanny-statism offered by Democrats and liberals.

In a nutshell, Republicans and conservatives can’t assume that noises--and even some action--about the conservative evangelical social agenda will be sufficient to keep those folks happily touchng the screens in the right places. They should aggessively develop and articulate market-oriented responses to evangelical concerns about poverty, the environment, and so on.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Good post, Joe, and good NYT article.

What exactly does a market-oriented response to evangelical concerns about poverty, the environment, and so on look like?

Many of the younger-generation evangelical "leaders" seem either soft-headed or too concerned about being accepted by the establishment. There is definitely a need to educate them about non-social issues. There's also a need to stiffen their spines -- and to explain how leftism and the left operate, something they don't seem to grasp very well.

Said it before and I'll say it again. Senator Brownback has been and is irrelevant. He's a kook and a fairly poor politician both without conservative ideals and without political horse sense.

Bush and Huckabee is what we should be thinking about in the evangelical politics line.

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