I feel I need to address something that profoundly bothered me earlier this week.
On Monday, a Republican office in North Carolina was firebombed. Somebody with a bottle of flammable liquid, a can of spray-paint, and a wicked heart thought the best way to voice their political opinion was to run those “Nazi Republicans out of town or else.”
Thankfully, no one was hurt. But the state GOP headquarters and property were destroyed, and as a nation, I believe our faith in our fellow Americans was shaken.
Yes, shaken. VP nominee Mike Pence called the firebombing an “act of political terrorism.” North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) rightly called it “an attack on our democracy.”
It was more than that, more than an attack on the electoral process. This attack eroded the foundations of civil society itself.
The point of community, the civil society, the purpose of politics itself, is for individuals and families to attempt to live together without clubbing their neighbors over the head because of the latest disagreement about the edge of the property line.
These arguments will always erupt because we are morally imperfect, flawed, fallen human beings. The point of consenting to live together under an authority, a government, is to avoid these kind of violent resolutions so we can all enjoy the inestimable blessings of life and liberty.
When we resort to violence, the whole point of having laws falls apart. The community that does not promote life and liberty is no community worth being a part of.
Much has been made of Donald Trump’s worries of a rigged election, to the point where some allege the GOP presidential nominee is threatening the foundations of our democracy. But does Trump’s claim that the system is “rigged” really compare to real acts of violence? Such as those incited by Democratic operatives? Such as those observed in North Carolina last week?
No, such acts of violence are anti-American because they attack the institutions that preserve the consent of the governed in our republic, where the people are sovereign.
But thankfully, there is still enough respect for the values and virtues that made America great that a group of completely unrelated Democrats —ordinary citizens, it seems, not party officials — from another state raised $13,000 to rebuild that North Carolina office because they thought it was the decent thing to do.
When I wrote about their great act of charity, I said their response to the firebombing “shows what it means to be American.” And it does. Those Democrats wrote:
That attitude is fundamentally American because it seeks to preserve the civil society, to protect the lives, the liberties, and the property of our countrymen. That attitude should be exalted, set up as an example for others, taught to our children, and emulated by every man and woman who loves freedom.
Not everyone wanted to see the decency in that deed. In particular, one person, who has since blocked me from viewing his tweets, tweeted in response to my piece:
“There is NOTHING decent about Democrats. They are the enemies of ALL Americans. They are the new Nazi Party.”
I said at the time:
This attitude is wrong. Conservatism can’t stand for what is good and decent if it condemns its fellow man as essentially deplorable. https://t.co/Ql8enCxZEK
— Chris Pandolfo (@ChrisCPandolfo) October 17, 2016
The attitude that man expressed saddened me greatly, because he chose to disregard something good to maintain a prejudice. He chose to ignore a decent act because of the actor’s political affiliation.
Now, the Democratic Party’s corruption (and a great many of its powerful interest groups) has well deserved the prejudices conservatives hold in regard to it, a thousand times over. But I believe it is especially important for conservatives to recognize and lift up good and decent acts where they occur, because conservative principles are good and decent.
The conservative believes, first and foremost, in conserving the traditions and institutions developed over the course of human events that best provide the conditions for human flourishing. In America, those traditions are the recognition and protection of rights endowed to us by a Creator, consent of the governed, the social compact, and representative government. And the institution designed to preserve those principles and traditions is the United States Constitution.
The American conservative believes in the preservation of the Constitution, in the principles of the American founding. Conservatives believe in those principles, because they know them to be good and decent, based in eternal truths and confirmed by human experience.
And so when a group of Democrats declare their rejection of the violent attacks on life and property, when they ask for charity for their fellow Americans, when they encourage others to exercise their right to vote, and to speak their free conscience, when they do something good, and decent, and inherently American conservatives more than anyone else should be the first to applaud them. Because those are the things that conservatism holds dear.
Conservatism needs to defend what is good when we see it. For a conservatism that does not defend the good is not conservatism.
Editors note: This article was updated after publication to fix a typographical error.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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