Mark Robinson was rewarded by conservative voters for having the courage to take a deep dive into the culture wars. Most years, Republicans barely got their toes wet. Many Republicans believed the path to electoral success was to focus solely on economic issues while largely ignoring the left’s long march through the institutions. As long as the economic policy is right, “they’ll come around” was the oft-repeated strategy. Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a conservative, understands that politics is deeply limited in the problems it can solve, a partial theme from a recent message he delivered Sunday, June 6, at Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove.
A quick summation of his remarks offers up a simple truth: Politics can’t solve problems that are spiritual or cultural in nature.
Whether one likes Robinson’s gruff style or not, he’s spot on for reminding the electorate that politics ultimately solves very little. This is in great contrast to today’s modern left, and their belief that politics is an all-consuming endeavor that can right every perceived wrong through the wisdom of central planners, or “eggheads,” as Robinson called them. Don’t believe me? Just spend a few hours tracking the hysteria and outrage on Twitter on nearly any issue that doesn’t give the government and politicians more control and power.
Who can forget the frenzy over Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign, when celebrities and journalists reacted to his candidacy and presidency with messianic fervor? Jamie Foxx called Obama “Our Lord and Savior.” Veteran journalist Chris Matthews declared Obama “The New Testament.” In the Washington Post, Ezra Klein dubbed Obama “not the word made flesh but the triumph of Word over flesh, over color, over despair.”
All this for a politician?
There are hundreds if not thousands of nearly identical examples just like those about Obama, or a belief that government has a superhuman power to rescue and save us. If you’ve been paying attention, you know much of the media and many Americans routinely push this type of worldview today.
Secularization and massive culture shifts created a climate where many now look first to the government for purpose and meaning in their lives.
“Wherever the people do not believe in something beyond the world, they will worship the world. But, above all, they will worship the strongest thing in the world,” wrote the Catholic philosopher G.K. Chesterton.
In Seagrove, Robinson is suggesting that politics is so disordered now because too many issues or problems fall under its domain. Robinson pointed out that the Second Amendment and the right to life are two examples of inherent rights that have been hijacked by a hyper-politicized culture. It’s up to us, and not the so-called experts or politicos, to bring us back from the cliff and restore some sanity in the world.
Robinson goes on to talk about schools — a domain created by Christian churches itself — but is now hijacked by agenda-driven curriculum and radicalized government-sanctioned engineering, particularly on race and sexual issues.
When culture is broken and dominated by the ideologies of the left, conservatives must address this fact to be successful. They must elevate the importance of strong families and a robust civil society. Robinson gets that. Trump got it too, but too often couldn’t get out of his own way. Like Robinson, conservatives must talk about the exceptional nature of America’s history and engage in storytelling.
One can argue if Robinson’s outspokenness on controversial issues like abortion, human sexuality, or even his Christian faith will cap his political potential in North Carolina or nationally. Maybe many will even grow tired of him or simply tune him out. That is certainly possible in today’s pluralistic and divided culture. Yet Robinson is right to point out that politics can’t save us from our personal or collective woes. It has little answers for the deeper problems that plague our state and nation.
Ultimately, improvements come from cultural transformation, from the strength of the citizenry, and not from politicians. No matter who we vote for or what political party we support, we’ll all be a lot better off the quicker we learn those truths. The alternative is merely more political chaos.
Ray Nothstine is Carolina Journal opinion editor.