It may have occurred to the few readers of this blog that I am a conservative. I don’t know how this strikes them. Perhaps some may question the appropriateness of a partisan line of thinking in a blog which is supposed to be a conversation about any subject relating to French-speaking Africa. Perhaps some of you think that it is not relevant at all to speak of US politics.
Ideas have consequences. For example, if the political ideas of the one side of the global warming debate, the side I affectionately dubbed the Luddites, are implemented, it would have a detrimental affect on the economies of the West, because the types of energy which have fueled economic growth would be demonized and taxed. The result in Africa would be devastating. Perhaps my African friends don’t know, but there are many now who dread the development of Africa because that would mean that more carbon dioxide would be released into the atmosphere by power plants, the cars and trucks, and the factories. These people, who have never even been to a village (and shit in a hole in the ground –I’ve done this and I much prefer modern plumbing), idealize life in the village. They want to keep Africa in its place.
Ideas have consequences. The second reason, is that these ideas will be exported from America to the rest of the world. Our political ideas are exported by our foreign policy, by our entertainment media, by our business interests (e.g., Exxon) and by our Christian missions and other NGO’s. Thus, it is helpful for everyone in the Africa to understand our political system.
Finally, the vast majority of current sources of media, and thereby I mean television, newspapers, and magazines, are left of center in their orientation. This means that it is impossible to get a fair assessment of the conservative position (right of center), from the media. This is even more the truth of French media sources, because the even the right in France is to the left of the American centre.
Now for the some definitions:
liberalism – in essence is the tendency to challenge social and political norms and traditions. In US politics, this expresses itself largely in a view that government intervention to fix social problems like poverty and injustice is a good thing. Liberals also call for acceptance of people on the margins: mothers without husbands, homosexuals, illegal immigrants, etc.
conservatism – in essence is the tendency to conserve social and political norms and traditions. In US politics, conservatism tends to cherish the protection of individual property rights and could be expressed by a sentiment like, “The government has no right to take away my hard earned dollars!” On the social side, this would be represented by traditional Christian family values, such as no sex outside of monogamous marriage is legitimate; homosexuality and abortion are wrong.
the left – this is the political side of the spectrum which is identified with liberalism
the right – this is the political side of the spectrum which is identified with conservatism
the center – this is a hypothetical political middle ground between the left and the right, liberalism and conservatism.
The Republican Party: In America, this is the centre-right party.
The Democrat Party: In America, this is the centre-left party.
I hope that as I described it above, that most readers will see that there could be some good things about being a liberal and some good things about being a conservative. Jesus could be seen as a proponent of either agenda. As a liberal, he ate with tax collectors and sinners and allowed a sinful woman to touch his feet. But as a conservative, he said that he did not come to abolish the law of Moses. Whether Christians should identify with the left or the right today is a matter of conscience; I argue today that Christians should align themselves with the position which is most consistent with Christian values, and I find myself on the right for that reason. However, I know Christians who find themselves on the left and they do so because they too are trying to be consistent with Christian values. It is therefore useful for me to set out my reasons and I invite anyone who disagrees to make thoughtful and appropriate objections in the comment sections; those who agree may also comment.
I propose writing on the following subjects in this series: Why American-style liberalism would be bad for Africa:
I. Victims; II. Sexual Politics; III. Socialism; IV. The growth of government; V. Defense; VI. Education; VII. Environmentalism; VIII. Theology (not necessarily in this order)