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December 19, 2008

The politics of despair

Weyrich Prominent conservative activist Paul Weyrich has died at the age of 66. In his obituary at National Review Online, one passage in particular caught my eye:

Although it takes a faith in the future to start projects such as these, Weyrich’s idealism often was driven by [a] sense of despair. He resigned as president of the Heritage Foundation in order to work on the congressional elections of 1974 — a very bad year for the GOP, in the wake of Watergate. At a time of high anxiety for conservatives, he started yet another group, the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress. Four years later, it became the Free Congress Foundation. . . .

Weyrich always believed in the promise of conservatism, even when he worried about its prospects. In 1999, he declared the culture war lost, though he urged social conservatives to keep on fighting anyway. Earlier this year, he issued another troubling diagnosis: “Many conservatives appear to be tired, their ideas exhausted.”

I was working for Family Research Council in 1999 when Weyrich made that first declaration, and I remember how upset many people were over it. There were fears that he had gone squishy, and anger that he was being so discouraging to a movement that was working so hard to promote and defend socially conservative values.

Yet looking back now, in the light of this piece, it seems admirable that he was able to keep fighting for these values even with that "sense of despair." As someone who tends to operate from the same mindset -- though, as most Christians do, I try to avoid full-out despair and hang on as hard as I can to my hope in Christ -- I can appreciate now how dedicated he was and much he was able to accomplish.  Despair -- or discouragement, or whatever you want to call it -- is so often a paralyzing force, that we don't always realize it's possible to push through it, or even be "driven" by it.

While I'd much rather be a "happy warrior" like, say, Mark Steyn, I don't seem to have been designed that way. But it's rather inspiring than otherwise, when you think about it, to know that Eeyores can fight too. R.I.P.

(Image © AP)

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"Eeyores can fight too"?? Naw, dearest G, it's us *Puddleglums* who *save the day*!!

Gina Dalfonzo

I'd almost forgotten good old Puddleglum! I guess it's not so surprising after all. :-)


Planed Parenthood is caught on video helping girls return to the arms of their statutory rapists. Jesus calls us to protect these innocent victims. Psalms 139. The church must rise up against the abortion community which threatens our daughters. .***.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTxsWZz9whg *** Jesus protect these girls.

Rachel Coleman

LeeQuod, you beat me to it. I frequently recite Puddleglum quotes to bolster my spirits -- especially that speech where he stamps out the Green Lady's vaporous fire and says, "even if it is all make-believe, our make-believe world beats yours!"

Of course, you have to steel yourself for burnt feet and the accompanying horrible odor of singed Marshwiggle.


It helps to have a comprehensive view of the sovereignty of God. There is never cause for despair; that would only show a lack of faith in the Lord Himself.

God is sovereign; He is in control; everything proceeds according to His plan. We may puzzle at His ways and oftentimes feel like that pitiful remnant before the Black Gate of Mordor, but the outcome was foreordained before the cornerstone of the world was laid: God wins. Decisively, completely, and eternally.

When righteousness prevails, it's not because of our power but through His. We are not responsible for the outcome; only to be faithful, obedient, and humble. My, how little attention is paid that last one. I sincerely believe that if there were more humility within the church, we'd see more victories in the cause of righteousness. God does not share His Glory.

At least that's they way I see it.

Rolley Haggard

It has been said, “the optimist believes we live in the best of all possible worlds and the pessimist fears this is true.”

Perhaps no one can say whether (or when) our culture has (or will have) crossed over that invisible line of no return. But it would be difficult to imagine a credible argument that, barring divine intervention of biblical (!) proportions, if we have not yet crossed over that line we soon shall. Things are not only getting much worse, they are getting much worse much faster.

Only time and history (keep that pencil sharp, Jason Taylor) will tell if Weyrich was premature in his 1999 concession of defeat. But that such a great champion would voice an opinion of such profound implications is enough to sober the most sanguine of Pollyannas among us.

In the final analysis, the only real pessimist is the one who, in the face of certain defeat, gives up. Regardless of what’s ahead, none of us need do that. Indeed, we must not.

Victory is not in the winning. It’s in the fighting.


He will be missed.

Yet the ideas are not tired. We get tired, exhausted, worn out, discouraged. Let us use this holy tide of Christmas for refreshment and renewal.

History shows us an irregular cycle of falling away, revival, falling away, reform, falling away, revival. We must gird ourselves for battle on our knees, even if 'we save the Shire for others, but not for ourselves.'

Paul Wills

Mr. Weyrich also supported passenger rail transportation in the USA. He was instrumental in the creation of Amtrak and was on the Amtrak board of directors for a while. He also published the New Electric Railway Journal which deals with passenger railroads and transit. (http://www.trolleycar.org/) More about his rail activities can be found here: http://www.narprail.org/cms/index.php/news_releases/more/nr08_26/
With the sharp divisions normally found in politics, it was nice to find someone who was both pro life and pro Amtrak.

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