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Is Conservative “the new cool?”

Back in the late Eighties Liberty University graduates who went on to law school were few and far between; I knew literally a handful (three? five?) during my time there, and they were typically really sharp kids with interdisciplinary skills: Philosophy or Political Science majors who picked up a pre-law minor or cadged together a grab-bag of classes that prepared them for the rigors of law school. One was even an Accounting major who spent some time as a CPA before acing the LSAT and going on to the University of Virginia Law School.

Nowadays, though, Liberty has its own law school, and I wonder if it is attracting the same caliber of student as the ones I knew way back when. Not because I’ve actually met any Liberty-minted lawyers in the wild, mind you, but because so much of what I hear from Liberty law school faculty makes me ashamed to be a Liberty graduate.

Take for instance this recent blog post [link] from law professor Matt Barber [link]. It’s his encouragement for the children of left-leaning parents (“hippies,” “progressives,” etc.) to take a turn to the right. Here’s a sample:

So what is a young person — brimming over with that instinctive, defiant impulse to rebel against “the man” — to do?

Well, in this up-is-down, spend-money-to-save-money world, conservatives have become the contemporary nonconformists. Today’s rebellious youth are telling the progressive establishment to put its moral-relativist, redistributionist party-line pig swill in its well-used chamber pipe and smoke it.

That’s pretty much the flavor: our political enemies are awful people, certainly their children know better, the kids should come join us, etc. I guess it’s pretty ordinary political rah-rah stuff; I just wonder whether it’s really meant to reach out to its purported audience or whether it’s meant to suggest to young conservatives that they’re the vanguard of some demographic revolution, etc. In Barber’s terminology I wonder how many twenty-something future Joe Wiegand’s there really are. The article is mostly fact-free; I’d encourage careful readers to look for numbers in it that aren’t results of surveys. There aren’t many.

Kids: Really want to get under your obnoxiously “tolerant,” Volvo-driving, MSNBC-watching folks’ skin? Try this: Go to church, abstain from premarital sex, join the Young America’s Foundation, attend a Tea Party rally, enroll at Liberty University, listen to Rush Limbaugh and vote Republican.

You’ll have them writhing in their Birkenstocks.

I have to admit to being more message-cynical than most, but this sort of “let me appeal to your baser instincts for the benefit of some higher purpose” stuff always leaves me cold. It’s not just that they have all the vim of a public service announcement for say green vegetables; it’s also that the speaker doesn’t even seem to notice the oxymoronic quality of the concept of a conservative avant-garde. Etc.

But there’s also the problem that the things he cites above as being counter-countercultural or whatever are a complete grab-bag. Does the Tea Party crowd have an abstinence plank in their platform? What denomination are they? Are they even Christian? Libertarians, to my recollection, tend to be great for talking about cutting taxes and shrinking government, but in reality they’re pro-choice, big fans of legalized drugs, gun rights supporters, and favor government-funded health care as part of their drug-legalization plans. They’re not exactly Christian conservatives.

And where does Young America’s Foundation [link] fit into all this? As best I can tell it’s an organization devoted to the veneration of Ronald Reagan. Haven’t there been two Republican Presidents since 1988? Why aren’t they the big draw for young Alex Keatons?

Rush Limbaugh? He of the three divorces? Really? He hasn’t had anything interesting to say since the end of the Clinton Administration.

And finally: is this what a Christian university does nowadays? Would someone please read through Barber’s piece and find the fruits of the Spirit in it? I can’t find them anywhere. I wonder what happened to my alma mater; it used to at least pay lip service to training “champions for Christ.” I don’t see Jesus in this mess anywhere.

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