After two failed tries at winning the presidency, the GOP “moderates” are scrambling to make the case that conservatism is “extreme” and that the “moderates” in the party are still the only Republicans who can win elections. John McCain did this yesterday as he called for Republicans to abandon the abortion issue. He did this on the Solemnity of Christ the King wherein we Catholics celebrate the sovereignty of Christ over all others who may seek to supplant His authority in our hearts. Democrats are picking up on the “conservatism is extreme” message and running with it as we see in a column by Jack Torry at the Columbus Dispatch: People want reasonable, moderate. The big lie that is being told is that to be “moderate” is to be “reasonable” whereas to be a conservative is to be “extreme.” It is actually the “moderates” who are extreme in their insistence that absolute truths must be rejected for the sake of winning elections. If our country has embraced the Republican establishment’s definition of “moderate” then our country has become extreme. Our hope as conservatives is that this is not the case, or if it is the case that we can make the argument for America to reject her extremism and turn back to her founding principles.
The GOP “moderates” are extreme because they reject the view that our rights come from God and, as such, are transcendent and absolute. It is extremist and unreasonable to deny an absolute, particularly in the area of civil law and where that absolute is basic to the core values that America was founded on. Once you embrace the idea, for example, that abortion is okay in some circumstances, you have abandoned the absolute that all innocent persons have the right to life. This rejection has implications across the spectrum of humanity. When Roe v. Wade was being argued before the Supreme Court, pro-lifers insisted that legal abortion would lead to the expansion of euthanasia, “designer babies” and the use of abortion as contraception. They were called kooks for speaking about the “slippery slope” of legal abortion, but today we see the bad fruit of the slippery slope. The pro-lifers were right.
It is extreme to murder children. If that is not extreme, nothing is extreme. As Mother Teresa said, “Any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants.” When you deny an absolute that is so basic to human dignity as the right to life of an innocent human person, you have become an extremist. If America has embraced abortion so much that it is now “extreme” to defend the right to life of all innocent persons, then America itself is extreme. It would then become all the more important for the reasonable among us to convince America to turn away from her extremism before all is lost. Defending the innocent from murder is not “extreme.” It is the most reasonable thing any person could ever do.
Barry Goldwater said, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” and “…moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” He was wrong. The reasonable, I would argue, always reject extremism, and so it is that those of us who reject extremism, who reject the idea that absolutes are not actually absolute, are suffering the impact of extremism on our country with patience, humility, and the hope that our prayers will be answered, and that our words alone may convince our countrymen that extremism must be rejected. Extremism is an affront against liberty, which makes Goldwater’s quote a self-refuting argument. The Founding Fathers were the true moderates who understood that because people disagree on so many things, the only way to have both peace and freedom is to have a government that will refuse to ever use force except in defense of our most basic God-given rights, but will defend those rights to the death. The true moderate is the man who will compromise on everything but the defense of basic rights. The extremist is the man who will compromise on everything, provided that it will help him remain in power.