Thursday, November 6, 2008

Political Donatism

There is a new term afoot: Obamicons. Conservatives who, in the Last Days, threw their weight behind Obama or else just silently slinked away and voted for the President-elect (not elect until December when the electoral college votes, of course).
Hold that thought.

You remember the Donatists? Of course you do. Back in the early fourth century, when the dust had begun to settle from the Decian persecution, followed by the Diocletian persecution, certain Christians began to recount that those traditores (Those who had "handed over" the sacred scriptures to Roman authorities to be burned) who had bent a knee to Caesar were now once again in the Church, baptizing babies and offering the sacrament. The Donatists rigorously dissented, insisting the church was the church of saints, not sinners, and these weak-kneed hypocrites had already shown their true colours, and ought to be shown the door. As you no doubt know, the Donatists themselves were shown the door. Off they went to north Africa, of course, to party piously by themselves.

One of the interesting challenges for the Republicans now is what to do with these Obamicons who in their support for the Democratic nominee showed their true colours. Victor Davis Hanson muses:
Obamacons. The timing and rationale for conservatives jumping for Obama became suspect not because of their decision per se, but because it came late, and was often without an explanation of why Obama’s tax or spending plan, or foreign policy, or proposed new entitlements were superior to John McCain’s.
They will be orphaned since there are too many more liberal in line ahead of them to enjoy Obama’s graces, and they burned their bridges with their former conservative supporters.
If this election did anything, it did indeed shake up the status quo. It will be interesting to see if political donatism is alive and well in the 21st century. Churches--and political parties--most often just shoot their wounded.

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