David Limbaugh, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of the 2003 book Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity, is a conservative commentator with a distinctly Christian worldview. Limbaugh, an attorney, is the brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh. This is the second in a two-part conversation. The first appeared on Monday.
Some in the mainstream media foresee the coming crackup of the conservative movement. They argue that there are basic rifts between social and economic or libertarian conservatives. What do you think?
I definitely think it’s possible to see some realignment among groups currently aligned under the broadly described conservative umbrella. Christian conservatives are rightly disappointed in economic conservatives or libertarians who express little concern over social issues. This is a fundamental difference. For now, our common interests seem to outweigh our differences, but to the extent that social issues become more important—and they definitely will in the years to come—I could see a schism between social and merely economic conservatives. Most social conservatives are already economic conservatives, but not all economic conservatives are social conservatives.
With the culture war intensifying, there could be a falling out among these groups. I find merely economic conservatives disenchanted with the strong social conservatives, and they may one day exit in droves. The question is: “Where will they go?” Will they quixotically go to an impotent third party, or will they gravitate toward economic and social liberals holding their noses on the economic issues? That’s hard to imagine, given their driving interest in the economy.
But there is an additional complicating factor. With the advent of the war on terror, we have a third issue: foreign policy/national security, which is as important as the other two. It seems that many libertarians and purely economic conservatives are more sympathetic to the antiwar Left. So will they join forces with the Left, or will there be a great fragmentation across the board? I have no crystal ball, but I do believe the tensions between the various factions on the right are growing.
But I get some comfort from the fact that I don’t think the purely social conservatives constitute a great percentage of conservatives. Granted, there are many conservatives out there who aren’t that gung ho about the social issues, but they don’t violently disagree with social conservatives. They are more likely to stay, even if we social conservatives get on their nerves from time to time. And even if there is an exodus of some degree, I foresee at some point an influx of conservative Democrats, particularly in the African American community. Politics is never boring.
How do you break down the key issues facing this country?
I see the three categories as economic, social, and foreign policy/national security. Almost all issues, from Social Security to taxes, to abortion, to judicial tyranny, to the war on terror, fit under these categories.
The November elections indicated the strong influence of evangelicals in getting George W. Bush re-elected and in opposing homosexual marriage—so much so that Democrats—who are seen as the party of the secular Left—are insisting that they have values, too. What’s your take on all this?
As I have written in a number of columns, I believe that traditional values voters will not be fooled by mere rhetoric or semantics. Democrats do not walk the values walk, in terms of what they advocate—and there’s no way they can cure that short of transforming their ideology, which, of course, isn’t going to happen. The battles we’re seeing in this country have existed since time immemorial. The parties are driven by their respective worldviews, and while individuals will defect from both sides, both sides will remain strong and vibrant. And, as I mentioned earlier, the secular Left is determined, persistent, and relentless.
Christians and other social conservatives must remain vigilant and engaged, or we will lose ground in the culture war. Christians, above all, must learn not to be paralyzed into inaction by the intimidating forces of political correctness. They must realize that they, not the people who advocate godlessness and the murder of babies in the womb, hold the moral high ground. They must hold their heads high and engage in the political and cultural arenas. They must be unafraid to be stigmatized by the secular Left as “intolerant,” especially when you consider that leftists wrote the book on intolerance, particularly toward Christians.
Many polls taken during the Terri Schiavo controversy seemed to show widespread support among Americans for pulling her feeding tube. Other observers say the initial polls were biased, and that later polls paint a different picture. Where do you think Americans are headed on issues such as this one?
I believe the polls were unquestionably biased. Had people been fully aware of all the suspicious facts surrounding the case and had they been fully informed about the issues, I dare say that a majority would have favored preventing removal of the feeding tube. However, the culture of death marches on in this country, and death is increasingly glamorized—a frighteningly pagan phenomenon. Liberals are gaining ground in portraying these issues as matters of liberty and privacy, and concerns for the sanctity of life are getting short shrift.
Again, I think America is headed in both directions as a reflection of the polarization that is growing between Christian and secular forces. I suppose America’s future as a free and culturally healthy society will largely be determined by the outcome of the war over social issues, mainly those involving the sanctity of life. We must honor human life created in God’s image to remain a free society. If we increasingly rationalize the devaluation and diminution of human life, we’ll be able to rationalize away any of our freedoms.
The future, in essence, depends on whether the culture ultimately tilts toward moral relativism or biblical absolutes. As to the latter, I’m not referring to a Christian theocracy or anything remotely resembling it. To the contrary, I’m referring to the composition of our culture. Will it be driven by timeless, changeless values or insidious relativism? If I knew the answer to that, I’d be better able to predict our future as a free people. But one thing I can predict with certainty: If Christians give up the fight, we can be assured of our societal destruction.
What’s your biggest worry about America, and your biggest cause for hope?
My biggest worry is that we forfeit our unique American culture and our foundational values as a society. As I say, if that occurs wholesale, our national future is in grave jeopardy. My biggest cause for hope is that there is a growing awareness among Christians and other cultural conservatives of the stakes in this war. I see in the present generation of young adults human beings who appreciate the things that matter most. We must strive to set an example for tomorrow’s societal guardians, who give us great reason for hope.