DeMint: We need a “big God” to have a small government

posted at 8:50 pm on September 17, 2010 by Allahpundit

A memorable passage from today’s Values Voter Summit. Like O’Donnell’s rhetoric against the “ruling class,” it’s smart retail politics and important at a moment when social conservatives are getting very nervous about the GOP’s flirtation with moderation on cultural issues. DeMint’s task here: Convince “values voters” that the tea-party message about smaller government and fiscal responsibility is somehow inextricably bound up with religion. Not something that’ll win you points with a Chamberlain-esque RINO atheist candy ass, but there’s maybe three of me versus umpteen million Christian conservatives out there in the voting pool. If you’re looking to win one of us over, which group is it wiser to target?

DeMint then devoted the rest of his speech to refuting the idea that the conservative movement should focus on fiscal issues rather than social ones. “I hear regularly as I travel around this country, someone will tell me, ‘I’m a fiscal conservative conservative, but not a social conservative.’ I want to straighten him a little bit this morning, because the fact is, you cannot be a real fiscal conservative if you do not understand the value of a culture that’s based on values,” he said to loud applause.

To make his case, he said that without strong Judeo-Christian values, the American public becomes dependent on the government. “When you have a big government, you’re going to have a little God,” said DeMint. “You’re going to have fewer values and morals, and you’re going to have a culture that has to be controlled by the government. But when you have a big God, you’re going to have a responsible and capable people with character to control themselves and lead their own lives. And you can’t have a little God that promotes freedom and allows people to keep more of their own money, and a government that’s not bankrupt. A government that’s not bankrupt. We’re talking about fiscal issues.”

We don’t need to have a full-on believer/infidel food fight here about whether devoutly Christian countries necessarily have more effective governments (ahem, Mexico), but I’m curious to know what the Objectivists among us think of DeMint’s argument. Last I checked, Saint Ayn was both an atheist and a pretty darned ardent believer in small government. (In fact, I’d bet that hardcore self-described libertarians are less likely to be religious on average than self-described conservatives or Republicans.) To be fair to DeMint, he doesn’t actually say that those are incompatible: What he says is that “values” are a key check on government expansion but not that government will necessarily expand without that check. He’s implying it, though, based on the assumption that people need some sort of top-down authority — God or government — to be in control. I think Rand would disagree, but am open to correction. Any Objectivists care to weigh in?

By the way: There was one speaker at today’s Summit whose speech was notably short on “values” talk. Hmmmmm.


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But when you have a big God, you’re going to have a responsible and capable people with character to control themselves and lead their own lives.

Paraphrasing John Adams.

Akzed on September 18, 2010 at 12:49 PM

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other,” -John Adams.

What a wingnut, that John Adams.

Akzed on September 18, 2010 at 12:50 PM

rcl on September 18, 2010 at 11:30 AM

The Permanent Revolutionary Party made it illegal to wear Christian clerical garb in public in Mexico.

The Mexican revolution of 1910? was a dry run for the one in Russia.

Akzed on September 18, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Meanwhile, is the current national debt primarily indicative of socially liberal or socially conservative policies? How much did we spend on “the War on Poverty” in the last 40+ years?

GT on September 18, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Those are liberal fiscal issues. The Great Society is something conservatives and libertarians equally oppose.

Women in the workplace seems like it wasn’t a product of social conservative efforts. It probably required the biggest change in traditional family life that we’ve seen in the past 150 years.

dedalus on September 18, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wealth — The biggest thing missing in the discussion about big government.

Big government wouldn’t happen if a so called Christian dominated population actually believed in and practiced one of the primary precepts of their religion as defined in the Ten Commandments. No longer would the see it proper to take more out of their rich neighbors pockets then their own. Fact — People wouldn’t put up with paying for big government out of their own pocket — it’s only when they fall prey to the devil’s Class Warfare Mantra of the big government left and start to grow more faith in the devil of big government than anything else does big government happen.

drfredc on September 18, 2010 at 1:33 PM

Yes, that is right. The point is that fiscal conservatives can’t succeed without social conservatives. For solib/fiscons to dismiss social conservatives such as Cameo wishes to do will only bring disaster to the cause of fiscal conservatism.

As for women in the workplace requiring the biggest change in the traditional family life, that didn’t occur until WW2.

.

GT on September 18, 2010 at 1:33 PM

but there’s maybe three of me versus umpteen million Christian conservatives out there in the voting pool.

it’s good to have a small allahpundit in order to have a big HotAir….

ted c on September 18, 2010 at 4:40 PM

DeMint’s point is pretty straightforward, without God in control, you get excess goverment greed (China, Russia, any dictator..cough, Obowma, cough) conversely, with less goverment greed, you’ll see more reverance and trust in God, think “endowed by our Creator” resulting in less desire for state power.

He’s absolutely right.

dthorny on September 18, 2010 at 4:51 PM

It is kind of like economics, I’ll grant him that one.

Every time the government gets involved in “crafting the proper society” they screw it up and make it worse. I can’t think if a useful move the government has made in this area in my lifetime, but I can point to them screwing it up time and time again… Just like the economy. Perfect analogy really.

Here’s to hoping that he realizes what I just said… and doesn’t try to use the government to forcibly craft/encourage/persuade “a culture that’s based on values”.

Top-down control won’t work here either guys.

gekkobear on September 18, 2010 at 5:05 PM

As an Objectivist my answer is that DeMint is right, the Republic has to be based upon values. The trouble is that Christianity cannot justify a philosophy of inalienable individual rights. Christianity says you must serve your neighbors, a philosophy of individual rights does not. Free markets are based upon selfish pursuit of profits. Christianity says selfishness is wrong.

If you believe that you own yourself and have a right to pursue your own happiness, that government must be limited to the role of protecting these sacred rights which are ours by nature, then Objectivism provides a philosophical foundation.

AshleyTKing on September 18, 2010 at 5:52 PM

DeMint: We need a “big God” to have a small government

What utter nonsense.

lexhamfox on September 18, 2010 at 7:39 PM

The trouble is that Christianity cannot justify a philosophy of inalienable individual rights. Christianity says you must serve your neighbors, a philosophy of individual rights does not. Free markets are based upon selfish pursuit of profits. Christianity says selfishness is wrong.

AshleyTKing on September 18, 2010 at 5:52 PM

I disagree. Service to your neighbors and individual rights are not in conflict. First of all, I think your understanding of Christianity is flawed. Secondly, free markets are not about “selfish” pursuits.

GT on September 18, 2010 at 8:20 PM

GT on September 18, 2010 at 8:20 PM

Oh, Jesus didn’t say the wealthy man had about as much chance of getting to heaven as a camel getting through the eye of a needle?

AshleyTKing on September 19, 2010 at 1:26 AM

Sorry, meant to quote you not strike you out.

AshleyTKing on September 19, 2010 at 1:27 AM

I thought DeMint was quite clear.

The point is that we don’t need or want government to force collectivists’ ideas of “morality” upon us: attempting to do so is the same as replacing God with the State.

DeMint’s point was just a corollary to the Constitutional prohibition of a the establishment of a State Religion, and it is puzzling that an atheist like Allahpundit can’t understand this.

Welfare is best left to a moral citizenry: government, being basically amoral, cannot do it. A government-selected “morality” imposed on us by force of law is exactly the same as the establishment of a “State Religion.” If this basic fact were more widely understood, there would be only a tiny fraction of the government we have today.

landlines on September 19, 2010 at 2:36 AM

Christianity says selfishness is wrong.

AshleyTKing on September 18, 2010 at 5:52 PM

Most of those who try to “use” Christianity this way to pursue a collectivist agenda blithely skip over the Tenth Commandment: “Thou shalt not covet”

Communism is state-sponsored covetousness!!

There is absolutely nothing in Christianity which conflicts with capitalism. Those who claim otherwise are deliberately confounding “acting in self interest”, which is essential to all life, with “selfishness” in an attempt to equivocate “opposition to communism” with “sin”.

Thou shalt not bear false witness!!!

landlines on September 19, 2010 at 2:50 AM

AshleyTKing on September 19, 2010 at 1:26 AM

Well first of all, lets look at the quote in context.

16And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

17And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

18He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

19Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

20The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

21Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

22But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

23Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

24And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

25When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

26But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

27Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

28And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

29And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

30But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

In this story, it turns out that money was this young man’s god. It was more important to him than following Christ. One can be wealthy and still be faithful. The point it not to put God ahead of material possessions and wealth.

You forget Christ also used Capitalism in another parable – Matthews 25:15-30

Yes, Christianity teaches us that selfishness is wrong. Your mistake is in believing that free market capitalism is about selfishness. Free market capitalism is about risk and reward without state intervention. What you do after that is up to you as you decide who or what will be your god.

GT on September 19, 2010 at 4:13 AM

I am getting so sick of Sarah The Quitter Palin.

Hilts on September 19, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Hilts on September 19, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Thats ok. A lot of us get sick of whiny Palin haters with nothing worth while to contribute to the discussion.

GT on September 19, 2010 at 10:50 AM

GT on September 19, 2010 at 4:13 AM

Also, people frequently ignore the fact that two topics about which Jesus spoke more than any others were material wealth and Hell. Guess there might have been a reason…

oldleprechaun on September 19, 2010 at 4:17 PM

Your mistake is in believing that free market capitalism is about selfishness. Free market capitalism is about risk and reward without state intervention. What you do after that is up to you as you decide who or what will be your god.

GT on September 19, 2010 at 4:13 AM

Well, why take risks? To gain wealth. That is selfish.

AshleyTKing on September 19, 2010 at 4:26 PM

AshleyTKing on September 19, 2010 at 4:26 PM

I see. So to you the desire to succeed is the definition of selfishness. That’s rather novel.

.

GT on September 19, 2010 at 5:34 PM

oldleprechaun on September 19, 2010 at 4:17 PM

Very true. The religious Left wants us to believe that Christ was all about feeling good about ourselves and not about the consequences of our actions.

GT on September 19, 2010 at 5:39 PM

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