Replacing RBG with a Conservative doesn’t matter that much

RBG was a worthy adversary of the constitution and I will miss her presence. Not because I agreed with her on anything but because she was a person, with a lot of personality and in many ways a great Lincolnian American. As the Lincolnian age comes to an end, as the involuntary union is slowly collapsing before our eyes, all those who represent the unfortunate empire of enforced equality forged by the involuntary union of states can be seen for what they were and are. RBG was a lover of abstract ideology, an idealist who believed that government could in fact save us. She believed civic religion was in some sense true religion. And while I find that abysmal, the human heart can’t help but admire the sort of Renegade RBG was. There’s a kind of romanticism to people like her, and the era she represents. A leftist worldview is fundamentally a struggle with the natural order, in some sense it is really a wrestling with the Divine. God made the world with certain things built in, differences between men and women, differences between persons, etc. The lefist and progressive mentality seeks fundamentally to overthrow God by defeating nature. Often this is only possible with the advancement of technology, RBG sought to do it with the Law. She was a Judge against nature.

The Conservative sensibility easily recognizes the dignity and worth of RBG’s life, whereas the Leftist viewpoint struggles to acknowledge the virtues and vices of a fallen foe. If the personal is political then everything is politic. The death of Antonin Scalia should be seen as cause for celebration from someone on the left. Afterall if this life is all there is and equality is the only thing that matters then Scalia was an oppressor. His death would have to be the death of a tyrant and a potential path for “liberation”.

And this is how you can tell the difference between a Conservative and a “Fundamentalist.” There are many Americans who consider themselves Conservative but are enthusiastically celebrating this woman’s death with Jacobin fervor. Many Americans beholden to a particular ideology of America were ghoulishly looking forward to this day. They will defend their bloodlust as simply zeal for the pro life cause, but it is no such thing. It is political fundamentalism loosely based in what could be called Christian values. For some it is simply pro life zealotry, but for many it is the righteous vs the unrighteous, the sheep vs the goats, or the red team vs the blue team. And that is the danger of all forms of fundamentalism and zealotry, they are too easily attached to political ideologies.

The irony is that the political left and right are often far more closely aligned than they realize. The left is defined by democratic fundamentalism, a radical ideology of equality enforced by the violence of the state. The right is often exactly the same except that they want their values nationalized. Both forms reject the wisdom of Federalism and peace.

The deeper irony is that because RBG is likely to be replaced by a Conservative (and we now know it’ll probably be Amy Coney Barrett) not only will the right not get what they want, but the fears of the left are entirely baseless. “Conservatives” cannot “win” with the court by nominating actual Conservatives. Conservatism rejects political ideology and adheres to originalism in jurisprudence. The left has politicized the court for decades because they couldn’t enact their ideology through participatory democratic means. Instead they captured courts and culture and enacted their worldview via state based paternalism. But the right has also politicized the court in response. Not through trying to put ideologues on the bench but by placing their hopes for a pro life agenda in originalism. The Constitution doesn’t mention abortion which means that a Conservative SCOTUS would, at most, be able to return the debate to the States where it belongs.

The only legal basis for banning it outright would be the 14th amendment. I don’t want to go into the details of that here, because I think that argument fails and maybe more importantly I don’t think anyone currently or potentially on SCOTUS thinks it has any merit. But I will say the 14th amendment argument has a lot of merit, merit that only makes the politics of this whole mess worse. Merit that is based too much in Lincolnian America, an America whose time is finally coming to an end.

And if 5 Conservative justices did manage to overturn Casey v Planned Parenthood that would be a big blow to Lincolnian America, a massive victory for federalism and freedom against nationalism. But it’s still unlikely to happen because the justices in question are Conservative and originalist. Conservatism is non ideological and a truly original understanding of SCOTUS precludes them from being legislators. Returning abortion to federalism wouldn’t be legislative, quite the opposite, but it would feel legislative and especially given how volatile our politics have become the Conservatives will act like the adults in the room. That’s part of our temperament. That’s part of what makes leftism so dangerous, it’s insistent program of infantilizing human nature. The more we see the left devolve into pagan immaturity the more we feel the need to act like adults and take care of the weeping toddlers burning down cities.

This is why Trump was attractive to many Conservatives, not that he’s mature or against paganism, but because he’s a blunt instrument many thought could be used to bludgeon the left. A dangerous game to be sure, and one that might pay off long term. But it probably won’t. It will probably only hasten the devolution of the American right into an oppositional stance. At this point the best Conservatives can hope for, and it is no small thing, is devolution to federalism and maybe eventual secession. This is all too much fighting over Lincoln’s rotting corpse. It can’t last much longer. Well it shouldn’t last much longer, I suppose anything is possible.

But either way Conservatism has mostly lost, and even as formal Lincolnianism may die with RBG really her ideology has secretly won. A secret victory in plain sight. Amy Coney Barret is nothing like RBG except in one very important way: they are both female. And there was never any doubt Trump would replace one unelected female monarch with another. Trump! Mister grab em by the stuff, never considered replacing a woman with a man. He also never really considered replacing a man with a woman, but many wanted Amy Coney Barrett over Kavanaugh. And one has to wonder how that battle would’ve played out.

But that little piece of identity politics, that little secret public victory, would probably put a smile on RBG’s face. Her campaign against nature and nature’s God ended with a not so insignificant victory. And if Barrett winds up being the justice to eventually overturn Casey…I don’t have the mental energy to make any more ironic observations or unprovable predictions today.

But I’ll conclude with this. From a Conservative perspective it is better to be good and lose than to win and lose your soul. And that is why leftism is always ascendant, it is willing to lose everything to gain the tiniest piece of ground on the battlefield. It ascends politically because it descends morally. But that means the Conservative war has already been won, the long defeat we fight has not been in vain, no cause has been lost just delayed. The king always returns…in the end.

RIP RBG.

Educator, podcaster, & writer

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