Christians and Politics 3: Examples of Ad Hominem


I recently noted why ad hominem arguments about issues do not adequately answer the various questions in our society. I used an older election to make the point in the abstract, specifically a McGovern voter who in 1972 thought people voted for Nixon because they were racists. I now want to present some modern ad hominem arguments that seem very popular with Millennials to address why these are inadequate ways of understanding Christians involvement in politics.


People Oppose Obama because he is black, and they are racists

I am sure that White suprimacists are not happy that we have an African American president. What is often missed, however, is that many evangelicals were enchanted with Obama during the early stages of his campaign, and he captured more Evangelicals than did his predecessors, partially because many Christians disliked McCain’s rather public pro-abortion views. When Obama entered office race relations in this country were far better than they had been for more than a decade, but current events seem reminiscent of struggles in the seventies and early eighties.


Racism has become one of the ad hominem arguments of choice at this date in time, so much so that in many circles, it is incumbent on White Americans to prove they are not racists. This, in my mind is simply backwards; the burden of proof should be on those making the allegations, and simply relying on stereotypes is insufficient. Simply pointing, for example, to racism in past generations doesn’t prove that this is the case today. Many of the facts and political theories underlying American racism are long dead, while there is a new social Darwinism sadly developing in the American left, it does not make arguments on the basis of race as it has done in the past.

As to Obama, the conservative rhetoric concerning his presidency is remarkably restrained compared to the hysterics of those leveled at his predecessor. Nor has Obama been uncontroversial, along with Bush he has expanded the role of the executive branch of government to levels many people consider dangerous. Many Christians view failure of the justice department to adequately investigate this scandal to be a serious problem, and other serious problems with Obama’s justice department as serious government corruption.[1] During the GM takeover, the executive branch involved itself in bankruptcy procedures in a way that may not be legal, and certainly used political pressure to strip secured bond holders[2] of their legal rights in favor of the automotive workers union. And this is before numerous discussions of political philosophy.

Christians Conservatives don’t care about the poor and hate all social programs

This particular objection is common, whether the debate is Obamacare, welfare, Social security, etc. The reality is that this very easy ad hominem argument covers a significant number of important foundational philosophical arguments. Its far easier to demonize someone than to discuss such boring topics as, should we have a socialist system, or a capitalist system with a social safety net? Should social programs be the domain of the federal government or the domain of the States,[3] and various serious questions about who should qualify for programs and how these programs should be administered. These questions are often complicated, often based on competing, legitimate interests. As a classical liberal, for example, I like programs such as WIC, care for those who cannot work for themselves or are facing a downturn in the job market or their career, though I believe many of our current programs are not well administered, and I believe these are the functions of the State and not the Federal government.

States Rights is a Euphamism for Racism

Oftentimes States Rights is considered to be an excuse for racism, and to be fair this is partially understandable, the Dixicrats did raise this objection in the sixties. But here is the thing, the doctrine of enumerated powers (States rights) is actually a much broader concept. The Dixicrats, unfortunately, were raising a red herring that discolors a different principle, the Fourteenth Amendment essentially means the States gave the Federal Government the authority to make sure all citizens are guaranteed the basic rights of citizenship.

White Flight was caused by Racism

If White flight is the result of racism, then what caused the black flight of the seventies? I’m sure some people did leave the cities because of rqcism, but as I have spoken with those who moved to the Suburbs from Detroit, I’ve become convinced that “white flight” was much more complicated. The growing issues with crime, employers moving out of the cities or building new facilities in the suburbs (sometimes because of lower property tax) and yes even riots are legitimate concerns. We ought to be concerned for those stuck in downtown cities, where predatory gangs roam with abandon, but the solution is action by the state not attacking those who feel their concern for their families is more important than their concern for their city.


Conclusions These are samples of the kind of poisons we need to get out of the body politic. From Here I will get to core principles, starting with a Christian discussion of why we need a government at all.

[1]This I think is one of the most serious issues that historians will note with the Obama presidency, his justice department is very open to charges of using the legal system to punish Obama’s political enemies and yet at the same time has refused to examine charges against those considered Democratic constituencies. The Justice department has attacked states looking to put in place moderate standards to use a picture ID for voting (and this is rather moderate when you consider how many other situations in life require one to present picture ID), but did little to prosecute Accorn and others who appear to have been involved in election Fraud; additionally, his justice department inherited a case of attempted voter intimidation in Philadelphia, and refused to investigate the matter. Hillary Clinton was not prosecuted for her private server and took little action appears to be happening in conjuction with serious accusations (and evidence) that the Clinton foundation was accepting bribes for various favors while she was Secretary of state, but a former general at odds with the administration, was not given this same consideration. Lois Lerner was not prosecuted for intimidating Christian and Tea Party groups, according to the attorney for many plantiffs, the justice department did not even question them at all, meanwhile, a relatively minor fundraising matter involving Obama critic D’Nesh D’Souza led to the administration seeking a 5 year jail term. There appears to be significant difference in the way the administration treats republicans and the way it treats democrats.



[2]Secured bonds gives the bond holder a stronger claim in a bankruptcy settlement at the expense of a slightly lower interest rate. They are not primarily held by “fat cats” or other market executives, they are most commonly held by retirees on limited incomes.

[3]Later I will note the doctrine of enumerated powers, which is a key argument for most classic liberals or constitutional conservatives, but has largely been disregarded by most others. The doctrine of enumerated powers essentially is based on the discussions of the 10th amendment, and essentially argues unless the Constitution specifically empowers the Federal Government to enact legislation, the Federal Government does not have that authority.