In an insightful blog post this week, Tom Gilson puts a finger on something well worth exploring. Gilson’s post, titled “Strategic Advice for Those Who Oppose Intelligent Design”, contains a lot of excellent brain-grist for the Evolution-ID debate, but the implications of his analysis reach wider than this one issue.
Speaking to opponents of Intelligent Design, Gilson reminds them that for their argument to be persuasive, they must have credibility. Citing Aristotle, he says that the two main components of credibility are perceived competence and perceived trustworthiness. So for evolutionists to persuade skeptics that neo-Darwinian evolution is the truth, they must be perceived as competent and trustworthy on the issue. Gilson goes on to methodically catalogue how apologists of evolution have failed to answer this bell and his assessment is … persuasive.
A short seven months ago, many of us were left utterly crestfallen as President Obama won re-election and Democrats picked up scores of seats and offices around the country. “How could this happen?” we moaned, “Hasn’t anyone been paying attention??” It happened because Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan did not persuade the American conservative that they had credibility. Of course, the usual voter fraud, ballot stuffing, voter intimidation, business-as-usual from the Left was in effect, but that is to be expected and surprises no one. It is clear that we did not lose the election because of voter fraud. We lost the election because not enough conservatives came out to vote for Mitt Romney. While I believe every conservative who stayed home last November (or even worse, voted for The One) shirked their duty and are culpable in whatever mess President Obama creates in his second term, I cannot blame them for not wanting to vote for Mitt. None of us did, because he failed the smell test of persuasion.
The future of American conservatism seems to be walking a knife-edge at the moment. It is impossible to predict whether conservatism in this country will continue to find its embodiment in the Republican Party or whether the political elites will have their way and finally drag the Republican Party to that Progressive ball they’ve been itching to attend. The one thing which is certain is that America will have conservatives. However their role, party, and amount of political heft is coming back a big, fat “TBD”.
The beauty of having a bipartisan political system (as opposed to the multipartisan system of Europe and elsewhere) is that trash can be taken out. It hasn’t happened in a very long time, but an American political party can be replaced; SHOULD be replaced in certain circumstances. And in a country which still has a moderately-free market, the wishes of the consumer should ostensibly be reflected in the product offered in the marketplace (in this case the political-party-shop. If things head the way they appear to be headed, the GOP will continue peddling its “big tent” philosophy and weakening party planks on everything from so-called gay marriage, to immigration, to fiscal restraint, to abortion. At which point, a large portion of voters will walk.