The 2020 congressional election on the Central Coast will not be so much a referendum on President Trump and his policies but a defining moment in the clash of two cultural paradigms: progressivism and moral leadership.
Progressivism is, first of all, an ideology based on the premise of the autonomous individual unfettered from accountability. Secondly, it is an ideology that seeks to create the all-encompassing state as an expression of the common good. Finally, it is an ideology that seeks to impose socialism as a means of redistributing income rather than creating wealth as a misguided means to promote social justice.
Progressivism on the Central Coast is a microcosm of the paradigm of the elites in the state of California. The outward manifestations are pitting identity-based groups against each other under the guise of being social justice warriors; promoting socialism as a means of equity and redistributing wealth; creating class envy and hostility; promoting radical environmentalism under the guise of climate change apocalypse; destroying the rule of law and people’s trust in the institutions of society; imposing this cultural paradigm on on the public education system of California; promoting open borders and a breakdown in a coherent immigration policy that provides both border security and a proper legal path to residence and citizenship; and creating newly minted human rights never intended by our founders.
The ultimate objective of progressivism is supremacy by imposing this cultural paradigm on everyone rather than seeking consensus or promoting coexistence. Those who oppose them are seen as enemies. They are relentless and ruthless in their pursuit of progressive supremacy. Logical conversation, debate and persuasion are not tolerated by progressives. Rather, they impose their worldview by means of fiat, intimidation, legislation, force or progressive judges.
Moral leadership consists of three basic elements: bringing conflicting parties or enemies together; creating a reconciling spirit; and engaging in constructive joint problem solving.
Bringing conflicting parties or enemies together begins with creating a reconciling spirit. This involves relationship building, demolishing walls of hostility between perceived enemies, creating respect between people who have very different worldviews, and dealing with offenses caused and received. The ultimate goal is coexistence and the common good.
Moral leadership is a cultural paradigm that seeks to recover an important core value in American society dating back to George Washington: the notion of civility. As a youth, George Washington was deeply influenced by “110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation,” based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. In the identity politics that have come to define our political discourse today, we have lost an important cultural value of respect for one another grounded in the understanding that all people are created in the image of God. Once respect disappears, the pursuit of social justice becomes an illusion and morphs into progressive supremacy. In essence, moral leadership is the path to recovering civility in American society.
Constructive joint problem solving assumes that there will always be conflict over cultural values, policies and the nature of the common good. Problem solving means bringing conflicting parties together with three basic goals: to end the hostility, to resolve the issues and to restore relationships.
Moral leadership is meant to create a vigorous public square that for the past 50 years has been taken over by progressives who see their worldview as “the norm.” A vigorous public square is one in which there is a free exchange of conflicting ideas, and allows individuals to think critically and not have a cultural paradigm shoved down their throat.
The 2020 congressional election on the Central Coast will present voters with a stark choice between progressivism represented by Salud Carbajal and moral leadership represented by Andy Caldwell. Regardless of your political affiliation, if you are sick and tired of the hatred and hostility that has come to define our politics on the Central Coast, then I encourage you to take the road less traveled and vote for a sea change in our political culture by embracing moral leadership embodied in the candidacy of Andy Caldwell.
The author is a diplomat, a professor and a retired senior pastor. He has been part of the Santa Barbara community for 28 years.