Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Mr. Brooks and Mr. Perkins

David Brooks and Tony Perkins

Two conservatives with very different views of America.

Tuesday, David Brooks of the New York Times wrote a piece titled The Brutalism of Ted Cruz. Last night, in response to President Obama's State of the Union address, Tony Perkins, head of Family Research Council, sent out an email titled Family Research Council: After 7 Years Under Pres. Obama, It's Time for Spiritual, Moral Renewal.

Mr. Perkins first:
Tonight the president detailed the many ways in which he has fundamentally transformed America. When he took office, Barack Obama set out to accomplish this goal by tragically departing from the values that made America a great nation. But unfortunately, for the President, this isn't cause for concern -- but celebration.

The evidence of this transformation is everywhere -- from terrorists attacks on our streets to the confusion in our classrooms; from the further fracturing of the family to the misuse of our military to the expanding racial divide. And unfortunately, we'll be spending the better part of a generation trying to repair the damage of the Obama administration. But, as those who watched tonight's State of the Union know, there is light at the end of the lawless tunnel. We see it in the fresh face sitting in the Speaker's chair behind President Obama. We saw it in the audience, where women of conviction like Kim Davis and the Little Sisters of the Poor were seated -- symbols of courage in the president's war on religious liberty. And we see it in the speeches of the men and women vying to stand exactly where the president is next year.
Mr. Brooks (speaking of Ted Cruz):
Cruz lays down an atmosphere of apocalyptic fear. America is heading off “the cliff to oblivion.” After one Democratic debate he said, “We’re seeing our freedoms taken away every day, and last night was an audition for who would wear the jackboot most vigorously.”
[ … ]
The fact is this apocalyptic diagnosis is ridiculous. The Obama administration has done things people like me strongly disagree with. But America is in better economic shape than any other major nation on earth. Crime is down. Abortion rates are down. Fourteen million new jobs have been created in five years.

Obama has championed a liberal agenda, but he hasn’t made the country unrecognizable. In 2008, federal spending accounted for about 20.3 percent of gross domestic product. In 2015, it accounted for about 20.9 percent.
Brooks' description of Cruz would apply equally to Tony Perkins. Both people are appealing to the same base and both have concluded that their constituents are motivated by fear and anger to support their causes. Cruz and Perkins both employ end-of-world hyperbole. Their goal is to piss people off. Their mutual enterprise is profoundly negative.
What is missing from the Christian right narrative is perspective. That is something that Brooks provides by noting that there are some good things that have happened under Obama in spite of the fact that he and the president have some considerable differences in policy.

I'm self-centered in that I want to focus on LGBT issues. I have two simple questions for Perkins' constituents:
  1. How has your life changed since the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges on same sex marriage.
  2. How do you expect your life to change in the future because of the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges on same sex marriage.
We can have an honest discussion about the effects of same-sex marriage on society but answers to those two questions are a prerequisite.

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