In Brief: Christian Nationalism
America’s traditional political order is the very one condemned by today’s Democrats.
On the heels of Joe Biden’s disgraceful speech ostensibly defending “democracy” by demonizing all the MAGA Republicans, and just ahead of Constitution Day on September 17, Michael Knowles spoke at the National Conservatism Conference in Miami. Below are excerpts from his remarks.
When Biden refers to “semi-fascists” and existential “threats to our democracy,” he is referring to a larger group. He is referring to half of the country. He is referring to the “MAGA Republicans,” which is to say, statistically, the Republicans, which is to say, about half the country.
Which is strange thing to think: that “government of the people, by the people, for the people” could be threatened by the very existence of half of the people. That our “sacred,” two-party system faces the threat of annihilation if anyone even thinks of voting for the party out of power. Something certainly seems amiss about “our democracy.”
I suppose the first thing amiss about “our democracy” is that we don’t actually have a “democracy.” The men who built our country were deeply distrustful of democracy from the beginning — not just back in 1789, when our Constitution went into effect, or even 1776, when the Founding Fathers declared independence from Britain. It goes even further back to 1630, when Governor Winthrop described the Massachusetts Bay Colony as a shining “city upon a hill” and “a model of Christian charity,” and even further back, in 1620, when Governor Bradford and the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. All of those men, and especially the Framers of the Constitution, gave us a mixed regime with an executive power, an aristocratic element, and, of course, a strong democratic representation in a federal system that balanced power between three branches of government as well as between three distinct interests — the people, the states, and the higher unity of the people and the states — in a nation. …
A body politic must have a soul in order to live. So what animates America?
For most of American history, the answer was obvious: Christianity. The Pilgrims of the Mayflower undertook their voyage primarily “for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith.” Our Founders and Framers established our nation, according to John Adams, “only for a moral and religious People.” Adams spelled out what he meant by morality and religion in 1813 in a letter to Thomas Jefferson: “The general Principles, on which the Fathers Achieved Independence, were the only Principles in which, that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite … the general Principles of Christianity, in which all those Sects were United.” …
The soul of America is and always has been, essentially, Christian. And since the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, America is and has been a nation. So what does that make America’s traditional political order?
I am no academic. I do not have an advanced degree in political science. But it seems to me that if a political community is defined at the physical level as a nation — and not, say, an empire or city-state — and then is defined at the metaphysical level as Christian — and not, say, Zoroastrian — then that would mean the traditional political order of the United States is “Christian nationalism.” I fail to see how even the most zealous opponent of Christian nationalism could look at any epoch in the history of the United States and come to any other conclusion.
And yet today the liberal establishment considers “Christian nationalism” to be the most dangerous and radical idea in public life. …
Liberals hate Christian nationalism, not because it is a departure from the American political tradition, but because it is the American political tradition, which the liberals do not like. Liberals hate Christian nationalism because it is the opposite of atheist globalism, which is the scheme they prefer. …
The central thesis of Joe Biden’s presidency, articulated in the earliest days of his campaign and reiterated just last week, is that we are now engaged in a battle for the soul of our nation. … Now, in Biden’s defense, he never did tell us which side of the battle he is on. If personnel is policy, our nation’s soul is in trouble. And if that bizarre speech Biden made a couple of weeks ago — the angry one in the dark with the infernal red backdrop and the screaming and the gesticulating — is any indication, the President wants to take the soul of our nation straight down to the bad place.
Ronald Reagan rightly understood that, ultimately, “there is no such thing as a Left or Right” — that when you really get down to it, “there is only an up or down.” And in time and space, we must always be moving in one direction or the other. There can be no stasis. There can be no neutrality. Political communities must have a shape and a shared end. In vibrant political communities, the various parts of the body politic fulfill the function and duty proper to their role, and all of the parts work together toward the common good — or the body politic will atrophy and die. The Left is mounting a concerted attack on our nation’s body and soul. The leftists wish for our traditional nation to die. It remains to be seen whether conservatives will muster the wisdom to understand this fact and the will to live. We have before us a choice between life and death, blessing and cursing. If we are to have any political future at all, we conservatives at least must choose life — life in body and in soul — that the United States and our descendants may live.
- Michael Knowles