The attempt by Conservatives to form a government with the Democratic Unionist Party, the anti-Catholic organization of Northern Ireland, has generated attention on a form of politics that has white American evangelicals scratching their heads. On the one hand, the DUP is even more conservative on social issues than America’s religious right:
The DUP is also wed to a list of views regarding society and the culture wars. They believe in six-day Creation, reject homosexuality and are opposed to abortion. All well and good. I agree with them, but when these positions and doctrines (rooted in faith apprehended revelation) are put into a political platform wed to nationalism and violence… we have a problem. Their conduct leads not only to the discrediting of these Biblical doctrines but places them within a framework of political extremism, coercion and threat. Holding them means one is potentially part of a sect devoted to political violence and the desire for power.
On the other hand, the DUP has no place for American conservatives’ attachment to small government:
Within the broader context of Northern Ireland, the DUP’s position on “social issues” is not peculiar, therefore, but neither is their position on finance best described as “conservative.” Their strategy is to seek the extension rather than the limitation of the state, and the success of this policy, widely shared among Northern Ireland parties, has contributed to the fact that the area has the UK’s highest public spending per person, with tax revenues of £8,580 per person in 2016 falling far short of the public spending per person of £14,020. Northern Ireland’s taxpayers contribute little more than half of what it costs to run the province.
In point of fact, the DUP’s commitment to big government on social and economic matters makes the most sense to me. How you have a government that enforces Christian morality but then turns liberal when it looks at markets is incoherent. If you have small government that trusts responsible citizens not to abuse the freedoms of the market place, why do you need the state to enforce Christian ethical norms?
2 thoughts on “Northern Ireland Proves American Exceptionalism”
A couple of quick points. The DUP are no longer linked to “a political platform wed to nationalism and violence”. In the 70’s and 80’s such Protestant groups were linked to shady and indeed nasty para military groups who murdered Catholics. No doubt, DUP leaders were colluding with such groups in their crazy quest for a Protestant victory. Such madness has largely gone with the dissident Republicans being the only ones I know of who attempt and only very occasionally murder.
Secondly, the influence of the DUP will be limited if not nullified by the most powerful force influencing public and political thought. The media (Steve Bannon knows of their power) is working daily, relentlessly and with a passion to take down the DUP and perhaps the Prime Minister with them too. In Northern Ireland the UK government has often used money for NI as a bargaining chip, so the DUP asking for a few billion is nothing new in NI politics.
Finally, just a thought. For purely pragmatic reasons I hope the DUP have more influence rather than the vile Sinn Fein, a Marxist inspired outfit who are taking the long view to gain power. It’s a pity the IRA were not annihilated when we could have done this, so it’s murderers and suited thugs could not have slipped so easily into government. That they survived and are now winning in politics is thanks to Tony Blair and the Labour Government guys like Jonathan Powell.
Not sure if the title fits but we could look to Russia as a model for some of what is happening in N. Ireland and for what some evangelicals want to happen here.