Exercising Non-Political Power in a Politicized World

With a new transition of political power in the United States, realized by the inauguration of the Biden administration and the Democrats gaining control of the Senate and retaining the House, one pertinent question among conservatives is what power they retain in such a political environment. In an age in which politics has invaded every aspect of our lives, it seems that we traditional conservatives have little or no power in our modern society.

Trying to gauge conservative reaction to the change in political wind, I listened to a segment of talk radio while traveling this week. What I heard was a common refrain of conservatives that our system of government places the power of government in the people and conservatives just need to realize this power to make a difference. This idealistic view of American political power seems out of touch with reality, considering the new administration is the triumph of the establishment in a questionable election where elitists unilaterally changed election rules in their own favor, and inaugurated a president under the guard of over 25,000 National Guard troops. Such conservative idealism is also devoid of reality when the justice system can impose laws despite what the populace votes for, as seen in the issues of gay marriage, immigration, and health care.

It would appear, then, that traditional conservatives have very little power indeed, and that which they may retain is slowly fading away. Pop culture marginalizes traditionalists as the media and power elite demonize them us bigots, the mere accusation of which authorizes tech companies to censor our speech. What are traditionalists to do? Where are we to turn? Are we fated to a life of slowly surrendering our treasured values in society?

The situation may not be as dire as it seems. Although dwindling in influence in modern society, traditionalists still retain power and influence in our families, churches, and local communities. The time has come to start living counter-culturally – living intentionally in opposition to the culture – by leading our families and local communities in the direction of traditional values. Traditionalists have the power to marry and have children. We have the power to join and be active members of a local church body. We have the power to live lives of integrity in our professions. We have the power to make sacrifices with our time and budgets in order to home-school our children, to teach them the tragic view of history, to teach them traditional Christian values, and to start them in the daily reading and application of God’s Word.

Traditionalists must also be intentional in the entertainment we ingest and the products we buy. We retain power as consumers in how we spend our money in the market and how we spend our time on technology and social media. Knowing the limits and fallen nature of man, we should begin in this area recognizing that we need limits on what we consume and how we spend our time. We can begin by fasting from technology, social media, television, movies, sports, and other entertainment for periods of time, as both families and individuals. In the place of these things, we can intentionally take time with our families to reflect on our own histories and stories, to read and reflect on books, or to teach useful skills that have been neglected or even lost for generations. Go for a walk in the woods, go fishing, go hunting, or work in a garden. Sports that have succumbed to political pressures can be replaced with strength training or studying traditional martial arts. Traditionalists can refuse to take part in the debased materialism of modernity and simply spend our money and time on more valuable pursuits and true reflective leisure.

Put simply, traditionalists have the power to control how we raise our families, how we participate in church, how we perform our jobs, what we consume, and how we spend our time. We have the power to affect those around us with the unbought graces of the past. We have the power to retain or to even bring back tradition. We have the power to continue the fight for that which is worth fighting for, and which will forever remain unvanquished as based on truth.

Trey Smith

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I am a Southern Baptist layman, husband, father of three, and an attorney. I live on a small farm in the hills of Appalachia in Northeastern KY.

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