The internet is all abuzz about how conservatives across the country are utterly flipping out about the fact that Obama is going to be addressing children in schools at the beginning of the school year. His speech amounts to nothing more than your standard “work hard, stay in school, you’re the future” line, but for some reason conservatives stand appalled. A simple presidential statement encouraging students to work hard and value education has immediately been compared to the actions of Charles Manson and Adolf Hitler by conservatives all over the place.
WTF? Why would anyone be mad about the president plugging a stay in school message? What could possibly be bad about that? Do they really think he’s going to get on the air and tell children to have abortions and euthanize their parents as soon as possible?
I would suggest that there’s really something quite different at work here. Conservatives in America simply cannot abide not being in power. Living out of perceived political and social control is so utterly frightening for them that they are literally foaming at the mouth and convulsing at the drop of a hat about things of no consequence whatsoever. I don’t see any other way to make sense out of the sort of irrational outrage that keeps cropping up. Conservatives just have a visceral aversion to not feeling like they are in control.
This is probably true of any political persuasion to one degree or another, but from a theological perspective it only further points out how conservatism in America is decidedly anti-Christian. Fundamental to the Christian political vision is Jeremiah’s appeal to “seek the peace of the city where God has sent you into exile.” Christians are called to live as a diasporic people, a people distinctly not in control who instead rely on and trust in God for survival and flourishing. The rabid outrage and fear among conservatives over not being in apparent control is just another manifestation of how profoundly anti-Christian American conservatism is at its very roots. It craves the very form of domination and power that Jesus rejected, the power to take hold of history, to save ourselves, to posess, control, and dominate. The current conservative outrage is just one more manifestation of its sub-Christian and semi-Pelagian nature.