A Pragmatic Misanthropy

I want to say just a few words about this piece by Doug Wilson, in which he explains why he will not be voting for the Republican ticket in November.

I like Doug a lot, and benefit from a great deal of his writing. But not this piece. Not even close.

I'm not going to address the vast amounts of pure sophistry, such as why voting for McCain + a pro-life Palin was groovy, but voting for Romney + a pro-life running mate is not. I want to cut through the rhetoric and focus on what I take to be his main point:

Doug Wilson would rather have Barack Obama as the chief executive of the United States of America than Mitt Romney.

His reason for this is as follows: Obama's leftism is worn on the sleeve, and he will do visible, public damage to the country by overreaching. Mitt Romney is a blank slate, a man with no firm convictions, and thus the damage he will do to the country will be less visible and public. Thus, it is a second term for Obama that will produce the needed "liberty revolt" this country needs, and not a Romney presidency.

First, note very carefully that there is nothing (and I mean NOTHING) principled about this view. Doug likes to cast his political views in principled terms, such as his swipe at the end about American civil religion, but, nevertheless, there is no principle in this piece. Both candidates articulate a vague American civil religion, as did both candidates in 2008. And Doug voted for one of them. So much for that. No, the opinions expressed in this piece are pure pragmatism. Based on the "ends" or "goods" he perceives in the future (damage leading to a "liberty revolt"), he supports what he believes are the best means to achieve that end: Barack Obama rather than Mitt Romney.

And it is those means that are the problematic part. It sounds all fine and dandy in the abstract to wish left-wing economic and moral destruction of our culture in the hopes that people come to their senses. But abstractions are just that: abstractions. What is blithely ignored in Doug's analysis is that his plan involves real suffering. Real economic stagnation and/or collapse. Real houses under water. Real 401(k) accounts depleted. Real babies aborted. Real medical death panels. Real Supreme Court appointments. Real Iranian nukes. Real race and class divisions and conflict. Doug's plan does not involve disembodied, abstract, gnostic "principles," but flesh-and-blood realities. And so let's recast his position as clearly as possible:

Rather than take the chance that Mitt Romney just might move our culture in the right direction (Doug's "count me out"), Doug Wilson would rather have real people really suffer in order to achieve his desired ends. What's a little "creative destruction" of real people and real wealth to achieve a desired political end? Forgive me if this strikes me as extraordinarily glib and misanthropic. It is frankly immoral to wish catastrophe on people in pursuit of one's agenda. That is a progressive, left-wing, "greater good" sentiment. Rather ironic to see it in the mouth of Doug Wilson.

Our moral duty is to love our neighbor and seek his or her best. For all Doug's rationalizations, he's falling short of that ethic.

Brian Mattson