Should I stay or should I go – the GOP version (with David French)
“Founding friend” David French returns to tackle the tough question that every Republican of good faith should be asking. They explain why this particular question of “Should I stay or should I go?” is highly relevant for everyone, regardless of political affiliation. The conversation explores the ways that political calculations inescapably are spiritual in nature, and the two have a fun time unpacking this reality via the “pirate ship” metaphor. Listeners will especially be helped by how David and Curtis explain the three main options – Leave, Stand, or Hide – facing anyone who feels caught in a deeply dysfunctional institution.
For those who want to connect with other “Leavers,” share your thoughts with others on the Good Faith “lifeboat” in the comments section for this episode (you only need to become a member by subscribing here – it’s free).
For those who want to make a “Stand” for the soul of the evangelical church, learn more about The After Party project.
For those interested in the mindset of “Hiders, read Anne Applebaum’s excellent analysis of the psychological rationalization practiced within the GOP (The Atlantic).
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I’m curious if you see the Democrats as similarly crazy in their beliefs? Seems to me both parties have lost their bearings. Which makes political moderates like me frustrated and homeless
I agree with Aaron. My family is personally affected by a craziness that has been pushed by Democrats, in fact has a great amount of political power behind it, and spread wildly through social media. Other parents in my boat describe our circumstances as dystopian. And although I love Good Faith, The Dispatch, and Russell Moore’s podcast, no Christian with a public voice will touch this issue (other than Rod Dreher). No Christian counselor will go anywhere near it. My husband and I are political independents, have never voted for Donald Trump or his ilk, have tried to raise our kids in a Christian manner without living in a Christian bubble. Yet we are seen as bigots because our child identifies in a certain way, and we won’t capitulate to its destructive nature.
It’s hard to find any political party that represents all of my values, which include reducing gun violence, economic policy that supports small businesses, addressing climate change, racial justice, traditional marriage, addressing housing affordability, protecting babies in the womb (but also caring about pregnant women and the factors that drive them to consider abortion), fiscal stewardship, etc. I consider all of the above to represent my Christian faith, and biblical ethics as I understand them. I can’t align with one political party that ignores-or actively works against-other issues I care deeply about. So I’m a political independent, but I try to work alongside anyone who seeks the same outcomes I do. Even if we don’t agree on all topics.
You just described the values of the American Solidarity Party.
When you leave when you realize the presidency has little effect on abortion numbers. Thanks David! That when women feel secure and safe, fed, clothed makes the biggest positive effect. But when you say that, you’re called a baby killer by people who have know you for 20 years. Most Christians feel like if you’re NOT a republican then you’re not a follower of Christ.
THAT mixed identity of REPUBLICAN+CHRISTIAN has ushered in the politician who say, “I can do horrid things, have no integrity whatsoever, lie, cheat, steal, cause an Insurrection, but if I say ‘I’m prolife’ then I’m in!”
Trump. Santos. DeSantis. Graham. Texas, Tennessee and Florida, post mass school killings, they LOWER gun laws?? Evil knows what to say.” Prolife” as far as pre-birth, but then they do nothing, and recently less than nothing with all the funding cuts for food, shelter, veterans, for “life.”
This is news for my Facebook feed: you won’t go to Hell if you don’t vote Republican.
I believe there was a missed opportunity when describing the “hiders” in this episode. Especially because of the war analogies, I think the best case for the hiders is that they’re essentially the underground resistance. Or for a more concrete example, think about Oskar Schindler. To be a noble hider, you must actively prepare for the moment when you will transition to either being a fighter or leaver, or you must actively engage with those who have chosen those other options in order to prepare for a time when you are united. At its best, being a hider is a delaying tactic, but it must not be an indefinite delay.
The other weight on hiders that I don’t believe was mentioned was the good institutions that hiders would have to abandon (or outright lose) if they became a leaver or a fighter. Think about a person in the GOP who has worked for years to gain a spot on a committee where they can finally do something good. Say that it took ten years of hard work to get to that spot. Or say that there are others in a subordinate role that rely on you being in a position of leadership. Suddenly the noble sacrifice on the foredeck (or flight to the sea) seems like an abandonment of those in your care or responsibility.
This is right on. Thanks Dave. I think the “hiders” are not necessarily hiding and you have to give attention to these more subversive activities and/or motivations that might be driving them. As you point out history is replete with “hiders” who were really fighting, just not in the public and performative way the episode seems to insist is the only way.
Thanks, Derek. I do want to be clear that it’s also very easy to be a hider and to say that “someday” I’ll make a stand, but that someday never comes. That’s why it’s always good before a crisis emerges to have your own lines in the sand established. In the heat of the moment it’s very easy to bend just a little more, until you’re so far gone that your previous self wouldn’t be able to recognize what you’ve become.
I discovered this podcast last summer. I have been sooo delighted to find that there are thoughtful people who believe in many “conservative” principles and who are so deeply Christian that they are willing to stand up to the MAGA folks. But to do it in a Christian, reasoned, manner.
Before finding the podcast I had found a couple other, I guess (based on this episode) “lifeboats”. Curtis, and David, do you have any association with Principles First (https://www.principlesfirst.us/our-principles.html#/)?
I have listened to nearly all the past episodes also. I have learned much and been uplifted. Love it!
G, Principles First has been a good lifeboat for me too.
Sometimes it’s hard to get in a lifeboat with people who have mis-characterized your friends and family as rural ignorant rednecks.
It’s also hard to recommend a life boat if they sniff the tone of disdain that surfaced during these last few years (over Covid, over Trump) so they hide or drop out of political engagement.
Their lives are practical, habituated by hard work, and not particularly influenced on a daily basis by national politics. They roll their eyes or shrug over “existential” threats from either party.
I feel struck by the crazies in both parties.
My struggle with speaking up is that almost all of my friends and family are MAGA, including my wife. She knows I’m done and have left the Republicans. I’m not looking forward to inevitable conversations as 2024 approaches.
I’ll be curious to see how the “Should I stay or go – the Democrat version” goes, because I think the metaphor obscures as much as it reveals.
Who is the “they” and “you” being discussed? Public intellectuals, conservative leaders, GOP elected leaders? Everyday voters? This is not at all clear, an d creates confusion that suggests “planting your flag” looks the same for a Republican Senator as it does a Republican voter. A typical citizen need not leave loudly, assuming by that you mean announce it from the rooftops. (Is that what Curtis means? This is also not clear. What does it mean to “plant your flag”?) Indeed, insisting they do just plays into the poison that is virtue signaling and performative politics that should color and help to define this discussion a little better. As David suggest, fighting is much more complex in this because of the manner in which you must fight and the directions from which the arrows come. If I just don’t think my being a member of hte Republican Party is all that important in the grand scheme of things, why would I care to leave loudly? If my main source of identity and community is not found in a political party, why does it matter if I leave loudly? Rhetorical questions for sure, but if there are answers I’d love to hear them. Because Curtis’ emphasis seems to be on using your platform to have maximum impact over others, when I don’t think that’s the right focus at all. If love of neighbor and relationship is the primary factor, however, that should cause each of us to consider how best to “leave,” “fight” or “stay” and whatever conception Curtis has of how visible that is should be and necessarily must be irrelevant except to the extent of adding his voice to the godly advice we seek in making these decisions.
Why aren’t all three options presented as “spiritual” instead of just the fighting? Christians act with spiritual wisdom (or strive to) and have as their primary objective the glory of God and spread of the gospel and His redeeming work through it. To get there we “love God’ and “Love our neighbor.” In a culture and political environment as complex as ours, each of these options is spiritual as we seek to love our neighbor well in a given context. If “fighting” is a spiritual decision in carrying our Ephesians 6 and we have as our motivation redeeming the institutions of our society or our culture, each of the other options has similarly important spiritual implications.
Why would an episode like this not at least give a nod to the complexity of decisions like this in a two-party system? The failure to grapple with this with the “fight” and “hide” options is misleading. There’s also a subversive element of each option that may not be public (and perhaps can’t be given the political dynamics right now) but is nonetheless a subset here. But the failure to identify why, exactly, one would leave the Republican Party glosses over this question, and therefore makes the “stay and fight” discussion that much thinner and less satisfying (and more difficult to define – see below).
Why is political identity the pre-eminent identity here? I’m not alone because I left the GOP. That’s not what causes loneliness. Why do the suggest that you’re alone if you leave a political party. This places too heavy an emphasis on political identity that is the reason we’re having this discussion at all. Even if that “loneliness” is true (and I’ll grant that there’s some truth to it – I’ve felt it), you HAVE to acknowledge that first order social connections must be in the Church and the loneliness (and corresponding emphasis on political identity) is a symptom of deeper cultural problems. If Curtis and David are presupposing this, then fair. BUt you have to say it.
What does it mean to “fight”? It seems that Curtis has some expectation for how GOP leaders should have fought, but didn’t. What does he know? This goes back to the failure to appreciate the complexity of calculations elected leaders must make to get things done. Ben Sasse or Tim Scott are potentially good examples of this. Each fight (or “fought” for Sasse now) for things and principles in ways that are contrary to the prevailing political and Trumpian winds. But you have an elected President from your own party. Don’t you have to pick your fights and when to fight them and how to fight them, especially when facing a movement within your own party that
I chose to leave the GOP because I felt that political identity had become too wrapped up in my faith, and this had become a common story among many of my GOP friends. I didn’t leave loudly because I don’t believe that social media pronouncements are any good and my motivation was not to redeem the GOP or change it, but to regroup and focus on how best to love my neighbor. Plus,I believe political identity is at best a third-tier consideration in life, being downstream from much more important spiritual and community commitments. I had multiple meaningful conversations with people in the GOP world I used to work and volunteer with, urged them to reconsider certain actions and priorities. And then washed my hands of this party, and instead have invested my time in helping my church learn to disciple people better in the Bible’s political vision for society. But the church is not a “life boat” as Curtis defined it. If seen as an Embassy for a greater Kingdom to a fallen world, it may lend some perspective to this metaphor and episode that places too high and emphasis on political identity and does so in a way that obscures a deeper and more important set of decisions that require biblical wisdom and Christian community to work out.
It does seem like the podcast was aimed mainly at politicians and influencers. We all have different callings and roles to fill
I enjoyed the ship metaphor, and have a tendency to build on metaphors until they collapse. There’s definitely a continuum of ways to hide; everything from active collaboration with the pirates to jumping in the water and hanging onto a rope behind the ship. I think they are right that the pirates will eventually leave, the question is whether the ship will be so wrecked that it’ll sink or if the hiders will be able to repair it.
Leaving is a good option in part because it presents the possibility of making the fleet stronger than it was before the pirates came; a fleet is not as effective with only two ships, so if it becomes possible to build more we should.