Thoughts from a Divine Monarchist

StarDavidby Bahtlahn   11/13/13
Once, I was “blessed” to be in a place that I fondly call, “The People’s Republic of Boulder.” To appreciate the following anecdote, you’ll need a bit of background about me.

I am as right-wing and conservative as any of you, but in a different way than most (perhaps all) of you. I’m what the New York Times would call an “ultra-Orthodox” Jew. They have other names as well for me and my kind, but I use the quotation marks because poor descriptives poorly describe. But, for the sake of this little essay, it’ll do. More than just a member of this complex body politic known as the Jews, I am a rabbi. There are many gradations of rabbis, and I am right towards the bottom. No false humility here; just immeasurable respect for the genius, dedication, scholarship, and saintliness that exists in many others that hold this title.

So, attending my little class at the Hillel House at CU Boulder about 13 years ago was a young man heavily invested in conservative politics. He and I hit it off, and he first suggested (then pushed) that I should join some group of Jewish conservatives. At first I just tried to pleasantly refuse, but when he pushed, the conversation took a deeper and more intense tack. I had to explain my hesitation.

The crux of the argument isn’t for now, but finally, he heard me. He had a breakthrough moment. “I get it,” he said. “You’re a Divine Monarchist.”

I loved that moment. It was defining moment for me in my political maturation.

On almost every point, you and I would agree. Low taxes. Limited government. Strong military. Traditional marriage. Politically, we would see eye to eye on nearly every major issue. How to frame a law might cause differences, but that’s the nature of all sides in the American scene.

So, as a conservative Divine Monarchist (typed with a sly smile), I’d like to offer two or three cents worth of my thoughts. I will add the proverbial “These views don’t represent the views of this channel or any other people” clause. It’s me; I’m unique. There is nothing even closely resembling a consensus amongst Jews. This is just one guys thoughts representing one guy. To prove that I used to have liberal credentials, I’ll quote a Grateful Dead song. “Believe it if you need; if you don’t just pass it on.”

On a phone conversation about 18 years ago, my big brother told me that he was coaching his 5 year old son’s soccer team. Curious, I asked what the role of the coach was at that age. He said words that blasted through me. He said, “We just tell them, ‘Keep your head up, and keep your eye on the goal.’”[pullquote]And, keep your eye on the goal. Great advice, but what’s the goal? Perhaps, your goal is to be right? Do you have an affiliation to a set of ideas that is so powerful that being seen as correct is all that’s about? [/pullquote]

Wow! So simple. Those words stay with me. And, that’s what I think we need. I’ll leave the “keep your head up” part short. G-d runs the world. (I know Brad (and certainly others) takes the agnostic step here, but I’ll keep it going for a second anyway.) We don’t know how His plan unfolds, but it will be good in the end. Relax. Life is wonderful. Not only is it true, but it helps in delivering the message. People like to listen to happy people. Shrill people can be entertaining, but they are seldom convincing. So, keep your head up.

And, keep your eye on the goal. Great advice, but what’s the goal? Perhaps, your goal is to be right? Do you have an affiliation to a set of ideas that is so powerful that being seen as correct is all that’s about? Please understand. I believe that you’re right, but is that the goal? Or is it your fuel? Is it your heart? Is it your passion? But, ask yourself: do you really need to prove your point? So, it’s about you? No, of course not, you may claim. It’s about the Truth!

I’d say that you haven’t yet found the goal.

At this point, I could digress to an entire essay about the means versus the ends. The thought that I would develop is that it’s not as black and white as many think. If I had that proverbial gun in 1935, I would have gladly killed Hitler. If I could have lied to stop the 9/11 murders, then I would have lied. A slippery slope indeed, but one that we must approach and sometimes walk on. I do not advocate lowering yourself to the level of the far left, but you must learn from them if you hope to defeat them. No, we shouldn’t stoop to their wickedness, but if your goal is to be right, please enjoy the view as America finishes her last semblances of sanity. You can right all day long. Please look at where that has us.

So, then, what is the goal? I don’t have the simple answer to that question. It took several genius minds more than a day or two to draft an acceptable constitution. I can’t write the mission statement for the right. For now, let’s call the goal political victory. Gaining some sanity back. Slowing down some growth. Developing a serious foreign policy. Whatever the details – political victory.

What is lacking, I believe, is an appreciation for the greatness of marketing. This one focus could be the difference between night and day for the right. Example: if I want to sell the ideas of the right, I don’t start with telling my perspective audience about my profundity. I’m back to thinking that my goal is that I’m right and I need to prove it. I don’t start with the ideas. I don’t even start with telling you what’s wrong with the left. No. I have to identify the problems that people are suffering from. What bugs people? Where are they and what’s driving them nuts? The left is brilliant with this.

People are bothered by poverty. The left claims to be able to solve that. People are bothered by racism. The left can solve that. People are disturbed by discrimination. Only the left can help with that.

Does it matter that their ideas are corrupt? Does it matter that they solve nothing? To G-d, it matters. To you it matters. But does it matter to the voters who have helped to shape the direction of this country? The idiocy and emptiness of the left is something that we’re all convinced of, but quit patting yourselves on the back and get to work selling the ideas. The right is the party of free market competition, but we don’t do what every successful business must do. We don’t market well. Our marketing skills are a horrible joke.

You want to know what bothers people today? People are bothered by dirty politics. They are sick of corruption. They are tired of fighting. You don’t sell them “small government.” You sell them solutions to THEIR problems. The solution to their problem ultimately must be from the right, but that doesn’t talk to them. You have to talk to people. Where they are and in the language that they can hear.[pullquote]The idiocy and emptiness of the left is something that we’re all convinced of, but quit patting yourselves on the back and get to work selling the ideas.[/pullquote]

Of course we need think tanks. The ideas have to remain discussed and debated. The truth is indeed a very stubborn thing. And, the truth is on the side of the right. But, “selling” the truth isn’t as simple as just telling the truth, especially when your perspective “customer” may have voted for President Obama A SECOND TIME! We have to study who this voter is. We have to create a profile. Actually several profiles.

I don’t want to get into too many specifics, but let me give a few examples. First, never praise Ann Coulter. Ms. Coulter is sharp. She comes with her facts lined up, and she is unafraid of the big guns. Bravo for Ann Coulter. But, what is the goal? Does she serve an important role in advancing that goal? Debatable, but let’s just say yes. What should your voice be towards her? I would say (I do say), “She has a lot of points to make, but I think she loses a lot of points for being too obnoxious and aggressive.” Put your spin on it. I don’t care. But do you really think that we’ll bring voters over to the side of truth by telling them how stupid they are? I’m terrified to say it, but ditto for Rush. I think he is brilliant, insanely talented, and I get him. But . . . his job isn’t to save the country. He has to sell time on his show.

This will be difficult for you, but ready? Stop insulting the president. Put all of your conspiracy theories in a closet. Personally, do I suspect that he is a nefarious leftist with intentions to completely transform this country and world into some lame leftist version of utopia? Of course I have such suspicions like that, but what good do they do me when I’m talking to a person who voted for him TWICE! Some people who voted for him even once are stupid, but many aren’t. They are blind in certain aspects of their lives, but they aren’t stupid. And, if you insist that they are, you run the risk of forcing the words, “President Clinton” out of your mouth for another two terms. Bite your tongue till it bleeds but stop making it so personal and bitter.

There are smart people on the left that have egos like the rest of us, and they won’t easily be convinced that they are/were wrong. Be gentle and help them to see what’s wrong with the philosophy behind the approach to big government. Don’t make it personal. Attack policies. Not politicians. Create slogans that are about peaceful discussion and repeat them over and over again until the issue can actually come to the forefront. Heck. That wouldn’t be the worst slogan ever repeated. Attack policies not politicians. There are many more to be created and repeated. As I said, learn from the left. We can scoff at “Hope and Change,” but they beat us with that.

One of the big obstacles that we have to be aware of is the depth of the problem with the media. The right has been far more successful with talk radio because ideas have more of a platform to be formulated on radio than on television. It is less sexy and more available for intelligent discourse, but a lot of good that has done. We have to master the idiot box. And youtube. And Twitter. No, my purist friends, not at the expense of the message. And, yes, this presents a massive challenge because our message includes thoughts which are profound. They can’t always fit into a sound bite. So, we need a strategy that moves people from sound bites to philosophy. We need to think about marketing.

It’s time to organize this conservative mess. Maybe my small voice will be heard by someone with a smaller family than me and more knowledge of politics and marketing. Maybe someone with money will start this ball rolling. I’m a Divine Monarchist, so I see it all as unfolding towards the ultimate goal in either way. Many of you believe in a second coming; I believe in a first. Who is right will be clear sooner than later (I hope and believe). What matters now is helping to right a sinking ship.

I believe that we’re in a mess, and I believe that, anthropomorphically speaking, the Almighty is not happy. Not with entitlement. Not with tolerance of radical Islam. Not with gay marriage. Not with atheism. You get the picture. Would I like to see a smooth transition into the era of Messianic revelation? Yes. Do I believe that the right is more likely to help that transition to be smooth? Sure. Facts are stubborn things, and the facts are with you. But, still, that’s not enough. You have to keep your head up, and you have to keep your eye on the goal. • (1947 views)

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39 Responses to Thoughts from a Divine Monarchist

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    What an excellent and thoughtful essay, Bahtlahn. We surely agree on the issues. We’ll have to talk about the tactics.

    Very little of what you have said can be disputed, at least on the surface of it. As my friend Pat constantly tells me, we have to do a better job of marketing. And I agree. And he surely would agree with you. Two wise men on the same side, for sure.

    And yet one of the harsh realities of our day is that speaking softly and carrying a good marketing stick may not get the job done. Too many have been so deeply indoctrinated into the religion of Leftism. I’m of the mind that, yes, let us market ourselves well. But still there is the human element. Particularly, there is the leadership element. And leadership requires a certain amount of bold confrontation.

    Reagan, for instance, moved this nation because he confronted the Left (liberals) of his time. There are many myths that have been created since then about how supposedly congenial he was. And he was that too. But he provided both the carrot and the stick. And I’m not saying that you dispute this. But too many calls to “better marketing,” in practice, amount to emasculating ourselves and playing nice while the no-holds-bar Left drives the agenda.

    I look forward to your further comments. This was a terrific essay obviously written by an intelligent and sincere man.

  2. Kung Fu Zu says:

    On point!

    To use the formulation of a professor I had regarding another problem, “what is your goal, to tell someone who voted for Obama how stupid they are, which is likely true, or to push through conservatism in the next election? If it is the second, you need to turn that Obama voter around, as he is standing between you and your goal.”

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    It’s very easy to lapse into a sort of political solipsism while strategizing about message. There are some very harsh facts that shape the landscape and that must be taken into account.

    Given the current situation of massive government growth, entitlements, and dependency, any type of conservatism that is real, rather than just nice-sounding rhetoric, means that we want people to be self-reliant. And that concept is demonized in a thousand ways, even by our sometime friends.

    Libertarians, for example, tend to run off half-cocked and say that we conservatives want to run people’s lives, impose our values, etc. And the truth is – at least concerning self-reliance, hard work, self-responsibility – we do. And most, but certainly not all, of the other so-called “social” issues really have to do with these things, for there is no escaping the fact that either the family, ourselves, and private institutions are our main support structure or the government is. And abortion, gay marriage, and ton of other stuff is, in actual operation, the state incrementing itself as the main support structure and organizing unit of society.

    So let’s unmuddy the waters. To push a conservative agenda means, materially speaking, shrinking government and interfering with what has grown to be a “free stuff”-for-votes transaction between the state and the citizens. As Mark Steyn said recently, the problem with socialism is that it changes the relationship between the citizen and the state to one of the junkie and the pusher.

    We can strategize all day. But that is the elephant in the living room that is rarely talked about. And here are some other harsh realities;

    1) Most voters are indeed low-information voters who have little to no idea of any political theory other than “social justice” or “diversity.” As Rush Limbaugh has said, it’s a little much to expect people who have had liberalism shoved down their throat for 364 days of the year to suddenly vote conservative when they go to the ballot box. That is, there is no stump speech that a conservative can give during a campaign that can undo decades of Leftist propaganda.

    2) Many voters have acquired a juvenile, stunted mindset thanks to decades of the dumbest and most debased forms of entertainment, especially including television. The conservative message isn’t a difficult message, per se. But it does require a certain level of maturity – at least that above a teenager for it to be comprehensible.

    3) Conservatism also inherently requires a “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps” mentality. But our society (and our men) have become severely feminized. There is little purchase now for messages of bucking up, being a man about things, and putting one’s nose to the grindstone. Our “compassion” is just killing us.

    But the #1 impediment to conservatism remains the “free stuff”-for-votes paradigm that we all live under in one way or another. And no one (or very few) are untouched by this. This is by design. Everyone (as long as it lasts, that is) is hooked to some extent, if only by Social Security. And those who pay your bills own your loyalties.

    And there’s another factor, one that Rush Limbaugh mentioned today. He (and I quite agree) thinks that many Republicans have no idea what they are facing with the Left. The reasons for this may be many (and going to “Progressive”-infused universities is probably a large part of it). There are a handful of people I know, such as Nahalkides, who speak conservatism at the PhD level. But most Republicans, even if they mean to, are not even at the Kindergarten level. And I really think most of them have no idea who the Left is. They do not know who Obama is or what he represents.

    This site means to communicate to people what who those people are. God knows that few other places do that. I tend to agree with Bahtlahn’s criticisms of the conservative media. I like Rush, but he’s got a show to run. And I’ve long characterized much of the conservative media as being little more than a book club and people competing for face time on Fox News or elsewhere.

    Yes, we need good marketing. But we also have to realize the realities that we face. One of those is that we are in a fight and have to fight. And we have to understand that when we challenge the Left, and those whose attitudes have been formed by them, there will be push back. Thus it’s a self-defeating mindset to castigate those who push back, including Ted Cruz. It is delving into sheer fantasy to believe that one can push back against the Left (and the mob mentality they have instilled in so many people) and not face criticism including hits in the polls.

    There is no magic strategy that can get around this. And too often the Wizards of Smart on the right try to concoct some theory or strategy that denies this. But it can’t be denied.

  4. Timothy Lane says:

    You have a good point about the need to persuade others; I suspect most of us are very poor in this respect. But one must also remember the point made by Richard Scammon and Ben Wattenberg in The Real Majority: If you present a basically moderate person with an immoderate choice, you’ll probably get an immoderate response. For us, the immoderate choice is the realization of how increasingly blatant the fascism of the Democratic Party is.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Hope tends to spring eternal from at least the conservative commentariat. And a little optimism can be a fine thing. But if we’re not careful, we will just drift with the cultural tide.

    That is what Jonah Goldberg has done, after all. He concocted a few months back a rather lame rationalization for gay marriage and then followed it up recently with his preposterous statement that the idea of the ratchet effect of ever-increasing government simply doesn’t exist.

    This is what we could call the “Establishment Republican” mindset. Instead of facing some of the harsh realities of our culture having moved left, they just normalize it. And maybe an argument can be made that some things, here and there, can be normalized because, after all, much of cultural change is of the arbitrary kind. Today it is bell-bottomed pants. Tomorrow it is pants hanging around your ankles (as is the bizarre fad these days).

    This I acknowledge. But I also acknowledge that it is a human propensity to simply give up and “go with the flow.” And because most people don’t like to think of themselves as simply having caved to convention, they make up clever rationalizations and excuses (as Jonah clearly has done many times) about why now it is okay to adopt this or that view. And without our sight set beyond mere fads or “change for change’s sake” and on to things that are timeless and that should be preserved, we cannot call ourselves conservatives.

    Thus this is a warning that any kind of push for “new marketing” in terms of advancing conservatism has to face the reality that most people tend toward being sheep….even the rather smart ones such as Jonah Goldberg. People don’t like being left out of the mainstream, even if that stream is somewhat polluted. It is thus very easy to characterize those who don’t dip their toes into that stream as “purists” or “valuing being right rather than working for effective change.” I’ve heard it all.

    We must also come to realize that, as Thomas Sowell has noted, we are facing a conflict of visions. It’s not just about right and wrong, per se. It’s about whether we are going to have a freedom-based culture of individual responsibility or a nanny-state one in which all change is justified because of the belief that, in the right hands, a sort of governmental Utopia can be established.

    And we have to come to fully understand perhaps the #2 element of importance, second only to the power of entitlements and welfare to sway people’s opinions and make them statist-friendly. And that is what Dennis Prager characterizes as “danger on the right.” They say anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe. Well, we’ve had for decades here in America (and around the West) a growing bigotry against conservatives. I would love to hear Bahtlahn’s thoughts on the subject (especially as a Jew), but Dennis Prager has been quite eloquent on this subject. Jews, in particular, face this “danger on the right” bigotry from the day they are born. It’s complicated why this is the case. But it means there is a reason that 80% of Jews vote for Democrats and are extremely liberal. They are so liberal that this “danger on the right” prejudice blinds them from who and what the Left is.

    The same is true in the culture at large. We are a culture that has self-righteously taken on the belief that there should be “no limits.” In fact, you can find t-shirts that say the same thing. “No fear” is also a big theme in the apparel market. The underlying idea is, we can remain children forever. We never need face life’s harsh realities. We just vaporize them in our minds by telling ourselves that all those big, bad people on “the right” are all racists, sexists, and homophobes. They’re not compassionate, tolerant, caring people like we on the Left who care about “social justice.”

    So we’re actually dealing with a widespread cult of sorts. And this is a powerful cult. There are promises of an earthly Utopia. And whether or not we get there, the inducements in the here-and-now are quite powerful, especially including free sex. In many ways, the Left is a sex cult as evinced by that recent advertisement for Obamacare that stressed the Utopian sex ideal of the Left: Sex that is not only without responsibility, but that you can get others to pay for.

    And all we conservatives have to offer is more of a Churchillian “blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” And any plans for reinvigorating conservatism that doesn’t take into account these realities is guaranteed to turn us into RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). We will (as is being done frequently on the pages of National Review and elsewhere) come up with all kinds of clever excuses for why someone’s battle with the Left is not the right one. For the Wizards of Smart, there is always a better way to do it. But those with eye with which to see notice that that day never comes for the RINOs.

    I say that first we have to stop fooling ourselves about the task at hand. And then maybe we can indeed come up with some clever marketing. But it will have to be damn clever to compete with “free stuff,” free sex, free drugs (as far as libertarians are concerned), freedom from self-responsibility (thus everyone is conveniently a victim), and just freedom from limitations themselves. And that’s a tall order.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      That’s a very good point about liberals effectively infantilizing the populace. This was one of Rod Serling’s weaknesses on Twilight Zone (one reason that I prefer the movie version of Kick the Can, and also like the anti-nostalgia of “A Stop at Willoughby”), and of course he was a liberal (back when that mean something other than a radical leftist). A couple of months back I saw Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and quickly saw Veruca Salt (the bratty girl) as the model for Obama.

  6. Bahtlahn Bahtlahn says:

    Brad,

    [This was typed as a response to your earlier two comments. I didn’t even see the “danger on the right” comment before I sent this along.]

    No doubt your points are crucial. But still, there is an art/science balance to marketing that so many just don’t pay attention to.

    A large part of my spiritual practice/philosophy is connected to a paradigm of (it sounds much better in Hebrew) of head/heart/limbs. So much talk today is about “following your heart.” That works when there is an amoral decision to make. Should I attend this class or this concert? Should I become a doctor or a lawyer (so Jewish of me)? When, however, the decision has any connection to morality or truth, following the heart is literally destructive. The heart is beautiful, but it’s also the place where I can fall in love with someone else’s wife. I’ll start with my head, thank you.

    The left starts with the heart; then uses the head to justify all of its seemingly lofty desires. The right (usually) starts with its head. To move the real life meta people from the heart based left to the brain based right is not something that will succeed with a purely intellectual approach. It needs to appeal to the place where they’re at.

    I agree that it can sometimes get tough. I’m not saying that “nice” is the only gear. But, we don’t need to make it personal. There is a huge difference between ripping the ideas of the left apart and ripping the Ideologue In Chief. Victory must be the goal; not scoring points on the Howard Stern scale of rank out lines. (Did I just admit to once listening to him? It was literally about 30 years ago. I promise.)

    There is so much talk about the Alinsky play book. I’m not well enough versed to know if that is a literal or figurative play book, but we don’t need to be shy. We should put together a Stubborn Thing play book. Call it whatever you want. But, the point is that when you play with ideas that are true, you don’t have to be afraid of being found out. Proudly put that play book together. But do it with people who are not only brain smart. There have to be psychologists and marketers heavily involved.

    My main point is that this is not an ideological fight. Just because our ideals are involved, that doesn’t define the fight. The other side is ruthless and fighting by whatever means necessary. There is so much pruning and pride about how smart and right(eous) we are, that the ship is going to sink and we’ll be right and drowning.

    Maybe someone here has the wherewithal to start a think tank that is based on strategy. There are great marketers in the world. We have to know the difference between marketing and sales. We have to stay focused on results and not feeling good by trumping people. We need a play book.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      …following the heart is literally destructive.

      Believe me. I’ve heard that before. It’s something that Dennis Prager preaches constantly. For him, it’s not that the heart is bad, per se. It’s that feelings and emotions alone aren’t a particularly good way to make decisions.

      Surely many of the problems we have today are due to women being a powerful political force, and they tend toward irrational emotionalism. The up side is that women tend to be not violent. As Dennis Prager says, both sexes have elements that they must overcome. For men it is their propensity for violence. For women it is their propensity to favor emotion over reason.

      But there’s another side to this. Reason alone, as commonly understood, is over-rated. Life itself is not reasonable. Being itself is in no way reasonable. It’s something beyond reason. And what we do with our lives is not something in the realm of reason, per se. We are not robots. We have purpose. And purpose is not reason.

      But reason is, of course, a good method. And we should keep it front and center. We must not run off half-cocked away from facts or reality. That is the true divide with the Left.

      And there is another noxious aspect to “reason.” As Thomas Sowell notes, many of the most horrible and destructive ideas come from intellectuals. His book, “Intellectuals and Society,” is a must-read as far as I’m concerned. There is a difference between intelligence and wisdom. And some of the most intelligent people (Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Bill Clinton) are not wise.

      It is obviously true that conservatives and Republicans could do a better job of marketing themselves. But this problem exist in the first place (at least regarding Republicans) because they are not anchored in anything more than enriching themselves, in holding onto office, in running Leviathan (not eliminating it), and in avoiding that nasty thing called “ideology” which The Really Smart People have determined is a bad and impolite thing.

      In essence, a clear majority of Republicans stand for very little other than going along to get along. Few (such as Ted Cruz) are willing to stick their neck out to try to stop the statist juggernaut we are on. We need men and women of integrity and clear purpose, and instead we get John McCains.

      If we need a separate department created called StubbornThink which would be a repository for good plans for Republicans and others, we can do so. This site is flexible and will change to reflect the talents and predilections of the members. And you’re, of course, invited to speak on any and every topic that you find of interest or value.

    • Kurt NY says:

      I think it’s more than simply following the heart. I think there is a profound sickness at work in our society, one which has over-reacted to past instances of being too judgmental to denying that one should be judgmental at all (unless, of course, you are being judgmental about someone else being judgmental). In reaction to the revulsion of finding out 50 years ago that, despite our belief in our own goodness, we as a society had been mistreating some among us as less than our co-heirs of God, we decided not to make judgments at all. Which, when overdone as we have been doing, has led to essentially denying morality itself.

      Which has also led to an abandonment of religious faith as just another superstition over which men in the past mistakenly butchered others. All of which has accelerated the process of dismantling thousands of years of moral thinking in the name of not judging anyone else.

      Which also ignores the role societal disapproval plays in keeping all of us on the straight and narrow. All humans, of whatever faith, are fallible and, if left unchecked, will eventually behave abominably – bad for everyone. By abandoning society’s role in moderating behavior, we have not freed up everybody to follow their heart but to simply drift in some hormonal haze.

  7. Bahtlahn Bahtlahn says:

    I guess the reason that I pulled out the Divine Monarchist approach here is because I don’t respond like Dennis Prager or the 80% of Jews who vote with a “D.” I grew up in a non-intellectual, heavily left leaning world. In my early 20’s, I made a far right turn.

    I don’t fear the Christians the way many Jews do. There are a few reasons why Jews fear Christians. One is because of the blood of the past. Two is the fear of proselytizing.

    I’m not worried about reason #1 because the Christianity of America has evolved. I have found Christians to treat me as a committed Jew with only respect. Even when trying to save my “poor lost soul,” there is almost an awe when they see that my head is covered and I wear the fringes known as tzitzis. The proselytizing doesn’t concern me because I know where I stand. I know what I believe and why. I know why I’m a Jew, and I know why I’m not a member of any other religion or spiritual practice. I admire the dedication of those who try to save me, but I’m hopeless as they define things. It’s not that I don’t believe in hell, nor that I don’t fear it. I just don’t fear the hell that they define.

    I remember the shock of a friend’s face some 24 years ago when she put together the pieces of the changes in my life. “You’re a Pharisee!?!” Yup. Rabbinic Jew. Orthodox. What can I say, I’m even Chassidic.

    My focus on the marketing is not because of a desire to redefine the right. It’s just that I see absolutely zero hope of righting the ship with the shrill voices of intelligentsia and self righteousness. The Divine Monarchist in me doesn’t believe in America. I love America, and I believe in the ideals that the right holds true. My statement that I “don’t believe in America” should not be taken out of context. It means that my belief in G-d trumps all. G-d is before family and country for me. I believe that He has revealed a path for me to serve Him, and I focus every day of my life on building and growing the relationship that is that path. I don’t want to see America fall. I would bless a son who wanted to join the US military (I think even before the IDF?), and I have four sons. My statement of non-belief is that I believe that I fight for America by fighting my spiritual fight. Everyone has to determine where their fight is.

    Perhaps my tears and prayers for this country and all good people bring pleasure to the Almighty. Maybe it helps? Maybe He thinks I’m full of myself. That’s part of the beauty of spiritual life to me. The fight isn’t an achieved status. I’m never “there.” I keep trying to break my heart. I keep waking up with joy. There’s always the unknown. Sorry if it sounds trite or even liberal, but for me, it’s the journey. So, like I said, I put in my two (maybe three) cents. If you’re nice to me (wink), maybe I’ll stick around.

    I believe that you are correct in that we’re dealing with a cult. But my fight, as a Pharisee, isn’t against just that cult. My fight is against my own darkness and my own godlessness. My ego. My evil. We each will answer, I believe, whether or not we fought the good fight. Some are called to get into the political arena full force. Some . . . not. I will stand a bit off to the side as a Divine Monarchist. If that’s helpful, I’ll call some shots as I see it.

    Did I answer what you were asking or did I just ramble? There is no such thing as the Jewish voice. I feel a kindred spirit with my brothers and sisters who are so distanced from the spiritual path that I walk, but I have nothing in common with them intellectually. In the world of intellectual discussion and political camaraderie, I am more at home here. Where I am most at home is in my studies. I’m deeply attached to the Talmud. To Rashi and a host of author great rabbis whose names you may recognize or you could google. Oops. But I don’t want to proselytize. ( :

    • Pokey Possum says:

      Bahtlahn, I sincerely hope you do stick around, and continue to contribute. I’m looking forward to more of what you have to say.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      If you’re nice to me (wink), maybe I’ll stick around.

      Frankly, Bahtlahn, what you have to offer is somewhat unique and much needed. I like Jews. I don’t like Jews as the Left likes their various victim groups, as mere mascots to show how enlightened and nice they supposedly are (while not caring at all what actually happens to these people because of their “nice” policies). I simply like Jews.

      Dennis Prager has helped in that process. And he’s certainly not an orthodox Jew as you are. But he has done yeoman’s work in communicating the values of America and the Judeo-Christian tradition to a generation of people who had forgotten it or perhaps thought is was a perverse and bad thing.

      One of the reasons that Dennis says that Jews are so hated is because they were amongst the first (if not the first) to bring a higher kind of law to mankind. Maybe that was from God. I don’t know. But the fact is, the Jews gave to us a law that was beyond mere tribal considerations. And Jesus (whatever one believes about his part in the Trinity) was surely a continuation of that idea. It’s the idea that there is law that is just because it is so and not because it is convenient or advantageous to one group or another. It is a higher standard than the typical corruption born of human rationalizations. This is why “social justice” is such a travesty. Instead of judging on the case, it puts weight on arbitrary things such as skin color. As it says in Leviticus, do not give a rat’s behind about whether one is rich or poor but dispense justice blindly, although I think the actual words in Leviticus are much more eloquent.

      And today’s conservatives also are persecuted and scorned because we believe in holding to a law that is good and just for all. We do not believe in dictators and people such as Obama who represent the rule of man instead of the rule of law. This is substantially what the Jews brought us.

      And now we’re losing it. The Democrat Party is a pox on our house. They, and their willing accomplices in the media and the education establishment, have convinced people that conservatives really don’t care about the Constitution, the rule of law, and justice. They tell people that those are just code words meaning holding onto white privilege, corporate profits and such.

      And certainly people being people, there is never a shortage of liars on either and all sides. But the conservative movement is, at heart, a patriotic movement. Inherent to the movement is that idea that there is something more important than my selfish motives and craven needs. There is, in this instance, the preservation of our country and our freedoms. And we won’t sell it out for the false promise of socialist “free stuff.”

      And when you say that you are beholden to God first, that is more than fine by me. The former leader of the Washington State GOP told me once that he was a Christian first, a husband second, an American third, and lastly a conservative. I have no doubt that there are plenty of people out there such as yourself who have run into obnoxious Christians or fake conservatives who really aren’t conservative. This does not surprise me because the corruption (in large part thanks to the Left, but not wholly) is widespread.

      But no good conservative thinks that he is conservative as some kind of life philosophy or pseudo-religion. The very nature of being a conservative means knowing that no one political philosophy can be all things. And any political philosophy that tries to be is rightly given the title of “totalitarian.”

      We are lost in America because we have forgotten the good that we are and have selfishly glommed onto the false promises of the hucksters such as Obama, and more than a few in the Republican Party, including George W. Bush. We did not form this nation in order for the government to take care of us. We formed it on order to remain free.

      Market that.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Jews are unpopular partly because they’ve always been an “other”, refusing to assimilate completely. This has led to them being restricted economically, often being forced into roles that make them more unpopular. Another point is one Chesterton had Father Brown make once: in medieval times, a Jew was in effect a legal heretic. When a king rules by divine right, he can be very concerned about those who disagree about the divine.

    • Kung Fu Zu says:

      “But I don’t want to proselytize.”

      I have never understood why a believer of any faith would think it wrong to proselytize.

      If one believes one has found a great truth and this truth would benefit mankind, why wouldn’t one try to spread it? Especially in the USA. There are no laws proscribing such action. And I doubt very much that there are many people out there who would try to stop such action. Go ahead.

      • Bahtlahn Bahtlahn says:

        I guess it depends on what you call proselytize. If it means to openly try to share your faith, I balk for two reasons.

        1) The most irrelevant answer is to a question not asked.

        2) It’s not our approach. I don’t believe that a non-Jew needs to convert for salvation. It’s also a bit of a Jewish leaning to try to clean up our own house first. There are so many Jews that know nothing about their precious and holy heritage that the leaning is to go there first. I’m happy to answer questions, but see #1.

        • Kung Fu Zu says:

          Interesting thoughts. Therefore, if one lives as one should, perhaps the question will be asked. Even if proselytizing is not the intent.

  8. Bahtlahn Bahtlahn says:

    Brad,

    Dennis Prager is very likable. I tell my kids, “I like you. That I love you is a given. I’m your father. But, I also like you.” So, I’ll take it as the complement that it was meant and not as a “some of my best friends” comment that you made sure you didn’t mean. But, it’s still funny. What is it that you like? Because it’s hard to nail what is Jewish.

    As for Jesus, I can’t remain quiet, but I won’t say much. That’s dangerous ground for us Jews. I’ll say this. There is the perception and the reality, and within the perception there are thousands of divisions. The reality? Believing Jews reject entirely Jesus. No offense meant here, and I don’t plan on much elaboration. I’d rather be friends than be “right.” (Sounds familiar.) Quoting “New Testament” to me is like quoting fiction. I don’t believe that there is prophesy there. Some wisdom? Sure. But, it’s not Torah. It’s not the word of the G-d of Abraham.

    Then, there is the perception of Jesus. That I think I could agree with you. That he was for peace, love, and understanding. Walking a path of spirit. Of course. But, as a rejection of the law? No. I still keep the Sabbath from Friday night through Saturday night, wear fringes, live in a booth for a week every year, don phylacteries, and avoid mixing my meat with my milk. And, that, is a very short list of the laws that I believe are still incumbent upon me and my brethren. I’m a Pharisee.

    As for “marketing that,” I don’t have the ticket. Is there a Mark Steyn of the marketing world? Dear Lord, what a gift to the conservative movement he is! There are many parts to the project. There is a creation of a profile. There is a funnel system of moving people from a slogan to a youtube channel to a seminar to a GOP convention (or something like that). I’m not a tree-guy. I’m a man of the forest. I love the big picture. Steven Covey makes a key distinction between the leaders and the managers. The managers are helping the tree cutters to improve their techniques, get the best saws, maximize their time, etc. The leader climbs up a ladder and calls out to them, “Wrong forest!” I’m completely lost at knowing how to proceed on the specifics, but I know we’re in the wrong neck o’ the woods.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Properly speaking, I gather that a Pharisee is someone who not only tries to follow the Law, but is very self-righteous about it.

      • Bahtlahn Bahtlahn says:

        I was saying it tongue-in-cheek. I would assume that a person who is self righteous wouldn’t assert that about himself. The idea really has me chuckling. A neat little irony that.

        Honestly, I was saying in a more historic context. My spiritual forbears were, I believe, of that sect. I guess the implication of the self righteousness could have developed from our stubborn rejection of Jesus. ? ? ?

        Not only am I a sexist, a racist, a bigot and a homophobe. I’m also self righteous. How cool is that!

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Actually, gather the Pharisees were also considered hypocritical in their sanctimony. Must have been proto-liberals.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      But, it’s still funny. What is it that you like? Because it’s hard to nail what is Jewish.

      Oh, I don’t know if it’s that hard, although the area I live in is hardly overflowing with Jews. But most of the Jews that I know at least intellectually (Goldberg, Prager, Mona Charen, Ben Stein, Michael Medved, David Horowitz, Daniel Lapin, Mark Levin, etc), I like, although I don’t always agree with them. And many of these Jews are not religious Jews.

      I take it you come from a background where one’s identity is very important, both positively and negatively. And that’s fine. But other than running into really ignorant socialist yutes every once in a while, I don’t go around trying to determine who is a real Jew, a real Christian, etc. At this point, I figure we’re all posers. God is bigger than any of us can conceive.

      What’s a Christian, for example? There are as many different answers as their are Christians. And having been online talking about conservatism for some time, you can almost say the same thing about that. I strive for clarity on these issues, giving my point of view (and that point of view is that there are plenty of false Christians and Jews). But other than the sociological and political aspects of it, I don’t care who is an authentic Jew or not, per se, except in terms of the people who keep voting for these Marxists and socialists. They need to wise up. People should at least pretend that they believe in something bigger than “free stuff.” But most don’t.

      As for Jesus, I can understand that he’s a sore point for Jews. But I don’t feel constrained by past history or past grievances. Jesus was a Jew. Jesus was a Jew who was critical of the corrupt Jewish establishment of his time. There is some disagreement about whether he is the Messiah or if we’re still waiting for one. But man’s relationship to his dogma probably ought to contain an ounce of humility, especially in regards to who really can know what.

      But regarding any conflict between the two faiths, I would wager that most Christians (via studying the Old Testament) know more about Judaism than Jews know about Christianity. The way I see this whole issue is that if God interacts with us via prophets and revelation, then this well would be an on-going process.

      And as Christians conceive it, Jesus did not overturn Judaism. Yes, I know that there are probably plenty of Christians out there who believe otherwise, that there are winners and losers, a one true religion or not. But the proper way to understand it is that God’s covenant with Jews is still in place and that a new covenant was started through Jesus which branched out to non-Jews as well.

      And if you believe that there is life on other planets, it would seem likely that there are interdictions galore that have occurred in various ways….if God does indeed operate in that manner.

      So I frankly don’t have a stick up my ass regarding who is correct, Judaism or Christianity. But I do think there are religions, such as Islam (and various cults) that feed off of the darker side of humanity. And if there is a devil, well, there you go. He’s involved in the world as well.

      As for marketing, yes, Mark Steyn is a big positive influence. And this site was started, in part, because the place where Mark Steyn is commonly published has lost it bearings. We need to regain our bearings. We need more Ted Cruzes and fewer John McCains.

      But this site is just an engine idling. Anyone who has ever talked to an indoctrinated “Progressive” understands just how much of a cult-like mindset they have. Their beliefs are intransigent, to say the least. What we can do here is sharpen our own points and hope there are enough people looking over our shoulders who will come to understand that everything the Left has told them is a lie.

      This is a shocking process, a sort of revelation unto itself. But it has happened to people. And I don’t know that there are any clever words that I can say that can countermand decades of propaganda. I know there are not. But we need to keep alive the ideas so that they are available as tangible commodities when people wise up about Marxism….assuming they ever do.

      And, yes, we should be more proactive than that. And some are. But my opinion is that our culture has gone half mad. It is enough that a few of us, for now, keep the flame alive of what America and the West are and were meant to be.

  9. Bahtlahn — I thoroughly enjoyed your piece and the fresh perspective it brings to the conversation. I found myself smiling as I read, mentally copping to being sometimes too acerbic. Conservatism has many challenges ahead — just putting out there on the national bandwidth a wide swath of conservative thinking in the hopes of watering down leftist propaganda is a huge challenge, especially in the face of media bias. Putting forward workable solutions to the problems facing us will be necessary. I appreciate your tickling my thinking bone — hmm….. 🙂

  10. Kung Fu Zu says:

    “Because it’s hard to nail what is Jewish.”

    I wonder? It is true that there are many different branches of Jewish thought. There is the secular, reform, conservative and orthodox all of which have some variants. There is the Rabbinic which values the Talmud and the Karaite which values the Tanakh. Under the Hassidim there are various groups such as the Satmar, Bobov, Ger and Lubavitch. All these groups have disagreements about Judaism, but the one thing they all pretty much agree on is that they are not Goyem. Now this is a definition in the negative, but I think it holds true.

    Of course there is the question of ethnicity. While not all Jews may not be Semitic, (some Asiatic groups converted after the diaspora) most appear to be. So it could be said that the Jews are a nation and not only a religion group which has maintained its national character throughout several millennia. I’ll settle for ethnicity.

    • Bahtlahn Bahtlahn says:

      When I write a response to a person named Kung Fu Zu, I find myself thinking in terms of a David Carradine cadence. ( :

      You are clearly not out of touch with the Jews. I doubt from your positive tone that you need this, but let me clarify for others reading still. The term goyim has a literal translation as “nations.” It is a neutral word at its source. The Jews are referred to in the Torah as a Goy – nation. The term has come to be used the same way that the word Jew is used. With a little acidity thrown into the tone, it’s an insult. It would depend heavily on context.

      So, assuming that you are using that word in a neutral way, I would agree with you. As you move to the right on the Jewish spectrum, it becomes more crucial to see ourselves this way. I see our insular behavior as a positive. I’m here and comfortable, but you won’t find a lot of my kinsmen online at all. We prefer to stay out of the American culture as much as possible. Funny, but here, on this site, I am certain that that position would generally be respected. I miss most of the references to movies or TV shows. The last time I watched TV with any regularity was when the Simpsons came out.

      On the left within the Jewish world, there is a confusion here. I had a non-religious relative berating me once for my lack of multi-culturalism. It was a ridiculous irony, as I’ve had nuns to my house for meals on Sabbath and I have black friends who I will, gulp, be seen in public with. So, I asked this relative, “Do you have any non-Jewish friends?”

      It was like watching someone come to terms with schizophrenia. There she was preaching multi-culturalism, but at the end of the day, she played bridge with her Jewish girl friends as they preached Humanism. Sad.

      So, I have an insular world, but it also gives me an awesome community. I can go to any major city in the world (where Jews live), make a phone call or two and find a place to stay and meals. I won’t dummy you down. Many Jews are highly suspicious of the non-Jewish world. It’s hard to blame them if you’re even vaguely familiar with Jewish history. I grew up in the same world as you. I’ve always been Jewish, but you don’t scare me.

      Ethnicity is much more complicated. It is highly layered from group to group. Long subject.

      • Kung Fu Zu says:

        I grew up in the clothing business and spent my adult life in the metals trade, both of which are heavily populated with Jews from around the world. Therefore, I have associated with Jews more than most non-Jewish Americans. I took part in in Seders when I was young, reading and answering some of the four questions. Some of our Jewish friends did not have many children so they were happy to have my family with its many children around. Without going into further detail, let’s just say, I grew up seeing Jews like everyone else except they had a very interesting history and had maintained an identity over several thousand years.

        As I speak and understand some Yiddish, I understand what Goyem means and I like to use words with their original meanings. So Goyem means to me Goyem in the sense of Gentiles. This is the same reason I hate it when too many people tip-toe around the use of Jew. A Jew is a person who believes in the God of Abraham or of Jewish ethnicity. I refuse to let others define words for me. I will not let them debase good useful words.

        “I had a non-religious relative berating me once for my lack of multi-culturalism”

        I have run into the same phenomenon in America. Mindless drones spew this type of thing all the time, yet do not have any idea what it means or how to be really multi-cultural.

        I have lived in eight countries and have married a woman of Chinese extraction. I am fluent in a foreign language and conversant in a couple more. I can only laugh at these dishonest fools. They talk it, while I live it. Yet, I am still an American.

        And I have seen what you are speaking of when visiting any major city in the world where there is a Jewish community and finding a refuge. You could go to the JCC in Tokyo and get all the info you needed. I forget what they used to call it, but it was something like the kosher telegraph.

        I think you will be comfortable here as conservatives are not demanding heaven on earth. They don’t even mind if people disagree with them if it is done with knowledge, reason, logic and some humor if possible.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          My housemate is the daughter of Southern Baptist missionaries in Japan and grew up bi-cultural, having once taught English in Japan. She says that made it easier to relate to an army brat like me.

          • Kung Fu Zu says:

            I am afraid Southern Baptists missionaries in Japan did not have an easy time. While generally polite to foreigners, if they don’t stay too long, the Japanese have not been the most receptive people to missionaries since around the time of the beginning of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

            The Koreans are a different story.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Obviously, Japan reminds mostly non-Christian, but there actually is an organization (JABAS) of Japanese Baptist missionaries and their offspring. They meet each year in Clinton, Mississippi in late October. Many of them spent many years in Japan (her father was one of those who came home on the Gripsholm after Japan and the US went to war).

              • Kung Fu Zu says:

                I would have loved to speak to the man. He, no doubt, had many wonderful stories which he could have told.

                There are similar organizations with the Baptists missionaries who lived in China. There was a large Baptist organization in Hongkong, when I lived there. As I recall, there was also a Baptist university or college.

                I don’t believe he was a Baptist, but I met a man whose family had been missionaries in China from the late nineteenth/early twentieth century through to the Communist takeover. His grandfather had been killed by the Japanese while trying to protect Chinese. The grandfather is the only foreigner, that I know of, who has had a statue erected in China to his memory. It is in Tatung, as I recall.

  11. Kurt NY says:

    Completely agree with your analysis that to advance the conservative cause we have to first show people how our policies will help them in their lives.

    Few people in America vote relative to the population. Some are horrified by that, but I find it a positive thing – people don’t vote because their lives are outside politics – politics is perceived as having only a limited effect on their lives so why bother with it. And isn’t that partly what being a conservative is about, that each of us must be free to seek our own way? So, to a great degree, when great acts of political theater take place, such as Ted Cruz’ recent filibuster and the government shutdown, while it thrills political geeks, most folk just get ticked off. They don’t want to know about it – keep taxes low, get me good schools and clean streets, keep me safe, then leave me alone and go play your games elsewhere, I don’t want to play.

    Last election, on almost every measure of competence and ability, Mitt Romney polled higher than Barack Obama. Yet the majority voted for the candidate they rated less able. Why? Exit polls said because they felt BHO cared about them. There is no logic in such judgment, but possibly some wisdom we shouldn’t disdain.

    We do not reach them with speeches, or theorizing or with grandstanding. We reach them the same way Ronald Reagan did. They need to see a candidate they feel a bond with, who can explain to them where he wants to take them and how it will help them if they entrust him with their governance.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Completely agree with your analysis that to advance the conservative cause we have to first show people how our policies will help them in their lives.

      Well, that’s exactly where this activist government has take us. In order for a party or candidate to justify itself, it must show how their policies will “help them in their lives.” In practice, that means entitlements and “free stuff.”

      No, my friend, we must get back to the conception of government being about protecting your rights so that you may improve your own life. That is what America is about.

      • Pokey Possum says:

        “we must get back to the conception of government being about protecting your rights so that you may improve your own life. That is what America is about.”
        Exactly….and this is where effective marketing is necessary to educate and motivate people. We can’t expect results by saying, “Do this, it’s good for you”, that would be like trying to get a kid who is used to a diet of Lucky charms and Skittles to eat their veggies. It’s a war that must be fought on more than one front.

      • Kurt NY says:

        Brad,

        I think we can (and should) make the case that our policies make positive differences in people’s lives without giving them free stuff. For instance, does the free market produce more prosperity, jobs, and income than a statist approach? People need jobs, they need opportunity and many see that slipping away. Well, we need to phrase our appeal not as some kind of magic elixir that will raise GDP (although it will), but as that there will be more jobs for those at the lower end of the ladder, that there will be more opportunity for them. In other words, we will positively impact their lives.

        I think we all agree that conservative economic and societal policies bring greater prosperity. That the left thinks that by throwing welfare and freebies at the proles it maximizes their potential. But we think differently. That it is our policies that will truly benefit them. And that is the case we have to make.

      • Bahtlahn Bahtlahn says:

        It is certainly more difficult to market hard work and exercise than it is to market heroine, but it’s not therefore unmarketable.

        • Kung Fu Zu says:

          Good analogy. The problem is selling the positive long term results of hard work and exercise vs. the immediate rush of heroine and its long term damage. How to convince people to value the difficult yet good?

          Given the nature of many people, it may be impossible, but it must be attempted.

  12. Glenn Fairman Glenn Fairman says:

    A very nuanced piece from the author. I too am ultimately a Divine Monarchist because due to our fallen nature, self government is a temporary Band-Aid on a problem that will never go away in the temporal sphere. Small government is the best means to allow the development of personal virtue that leads us onward and upward, and this is because the ever-metastasizing super state crowds out all individual and institutional prerogatives by its overwhelming coercive gravity. We must remember that unmixed freedom is not what we are about, but the freedom that allows us to come to grips with our ultimate purpose as created beings provided for from the foundations of the world.

    Christian and Jew are awaiting the coming of the Great King–one who rules in justice and knowledge and virtue by divine right—because He is divine and uncontestably right. Any government that ignores or defies this fact is doomed to fall–and rightly so.

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