Mike Pence led off the Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summit this morning. While he, like most other conservatives, decried the nation’s current direction (“energetic bureaucracy and weak, ineffective diplomacy”), he also sounded a note of optimism as he insisted that conservatism is at the “beginning of a comeback” and that we are collectively “on the brink of a great American awakening.”
When he referred to an awakening, Pence seemed to include a spiritual element in his prediction of resurgence. Conservative agenda items like the free market, protecting nascent life, and the preservation of traditional marriage are clearly tied to his view of rights and duties invested in human beings by their creator.
In this regard, Pence struck me very much as a disciple of the late Jack Kemp. It is a kinship he claimed at various points in his speech. Certainly, he appeared, like Kemp to be a champion of what might be called the synthesis of Judeo-Christian and classical civilization over against the utilitarian social engineering of materialistic modernism.
Another point of interest in the speech was Pence’s multiple references to Abraham Lincoln as the founder of the Republican party. I have often thought that Lincoln and his party’s resistance to slavery could be genetically tied to the party’s insistence upon equality of opportunity and the dignity of contracts entered into by legal peers. Pence seemed to instinctively draw that same connection. Finding ways to convincingly tie the party to its historically-honored sources is a sign of effective statesmanship and is a tactic that should be employed more frequently.