by Doug Mainwaring
From Public Discourse at the Witherspoon Institute
December 15th, 2016
This battle hinges on one thing: creating a vibrant—dominant—marriage culture based on the participation of millions of individuals.
President-elect Trump has done what no one else has been able to do: he has slain the dragon of political correctness. Trump has cleared out the minefield and disarmed the booby traps that once allowed the advancement of progressivism to go on unimpeded. The aim of political correctness has always been undermining faith and family—the two things that stand as the greatest barriers between individual citizens and an unchecked statist government. As the Little Sisters of the Poor can attest, religious liberty and traditional morality have beenheavily targeted in recent years.
Concerning the deeper meaning of the rise of Donald Trump, Angelo Codevilla quite accurately suggests:
America’s ruling class largely destroyed, along with its own credibility, the respect for truth, and the culture of restraint that had made the American people unique stewards of freedom and prosperity. . . .
In short, the PC “changes in law and public norms” (to quote [William] Galston again) that the ruling class imposed on the rest of America, rather than having “gradually brought about changes in private attitudes across partisan and ideological lines” as the ruling class imagined (and as Gramsci would have approved) have set off a revolution—of which we can be sure only that it won’t be pretty.
Concerning an immediate impact of Donald Trump, former Vice President Dick Cheney summed things up rather nicely during a panel discussion with CNN’s Barbara Starr at the Reagan Library. Speaking about the now diminished role of the press, where tweets have replaced interfacing with the press, Cheney said Trump has taken us to “the point where we don’t need you guys any more.”
Nonetheless, our challenge now is to take advantage of the opening that Donald Trump has created. We must accept the fact that the field has indeed been cleared, and we should no longer be afraid to express unpopular truths, whether in national media, at work, at school, or around the dinner table.
We must not miss this opportunity. We now stand at the brink of what could very well be a cultural springtime—no, not the one that John Podesta and his cohort had in mind—but one that could reignite and regenerate a flourishing Christian culture.
Grassroots Americans: This Is Our Moment
In February, 2015, I found myself in a discussion group with a dozen highly successful Catholic businessmen, all pillars of the community and members of a wealthy parish just outside Washington, DC. These guys had been getting together at 6:30 on Saturday mornings for a few years to discuss how to be better Catholics, husbands, and fathers. Their once-a-week get-togethers always proved to be lively, vulnerable, action-oriented conversations.
One morning, when the topic of same-sex marriage unexpectedly cropped up, the nature of the discussion suddenly changed. The liveliness evaporated.
After a long silence, each man’s contribution to the discussion was prefaced with a litany of halting, sheepish disclaimers: I’m not anti-gay, but . . . Some of my closest colleagues and friends are gay, but . . . I’m not homophobic, but . . . I don’t judge anyone, but . . . . It was painful for me to watch these wonderful, dedicated Catholic men who had forged such strong brotherly relationships appear scared to death to speak honestly and forthrightly—and not to adversaries, but to each other—about this issue. It was almost as if instead of being in a Catholic parish assembly room in 2015 America, we were in East Germany during the deep freeze of the Cold War, fearful that one of our neighbors might be a secret Stasi informant.
I finally had to speak up. When I began by announcing that I am same-sex attracted, their suddenly ashen faces let me know that they thought their worst fears had been confirmed. But I delivered a message to them that was far different from what they expected. I told them:
You guys need to stop being afraid. Don’t cower or shrink back when it comes to speaking the truth about marriage. Both the world and the church desperately need you to be unafraid to speak, because to remain silent is an act of capitulation, and marriage and family will go down in flames. Please speak confidently, because you have Truth with a “Capital T”—the Gospel—on your side. I am same-sex attracted, and I need guys like you to stand tall and proclaim what you know to be true. Otherwise, there is little hope for me and others like me. Please don’t abandon us through silence! Don’t withhold the good news of the Gospel from us out of fear!
And please don’t comfort yourselves by thinking that the Church hierarchy and her academics can handle this on behalf of the rest of us. They are amazingly gifted, but they can only do so much. This battle will only be won based on the personal convictions and actions of ordinary, grassroots Christians, and the way in which we conduct our lives.
It was right around this same time I began work on an amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court that came to be known as “Same-Sex Attracted Men and Their Wives.” The brief was submitted in the Obergefell v. Hodges case in support of allowing states to legally define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It was one of over sixty briefs submitted in defense of marriage, many of which were written by some of the best legal minds in the country working with religious leaders and top academic scholars on marriage and social science. Still, this was not enough to protect marriage from five men and women robed in black. Read more of this article at the Witherspoon Institute