My wife and I try to live a life as close to nature and as close to what is real as possible. We grow as much of our own food as possible. We raise chickens, ducks, and turkeys. We keep bees. We share goats with neighbors for raw milk. We forage for mushrooms and black walnuts. We try to stock our freezer with wild duck and venison.
Similarly, we support midwifery, and six of our eight children were born at home. We homeschool our kids and don’t let them watch television. Not even Big Bird.
We have always maintained a healthy distrust of government and we despise the idea of politicians getting involved in our food, our children’s education, and our freedom to raise our family as we see fit. This is why we stand against State support of Monsanto, the agricultural chemical company so vehemently pursuing control of the seed market and promotion of GMO (genetically-modified organism) crops. This is why we oppose State intervention or involvement in education. This is why we oppose State coercion of the Church to violate its charism. We have lived this way for over twenty years.
However, when we first started the ongoing experiment that is our marriage, most people would have thought we were some kind of post-punk nonconformist hippies, or at the very least liberals. At the time, we really thought of ourselves as apolitical, though we did vote for Clinton. Twice.
Now we consider ourselves conservative politically, but our allegiances are not to politics or parties. Our allegiances are to our family and our faith. If we could, we’d cut out of the culture altogether and live in a community that shared our values. And, as it turns out, a significant—and growing—group of people do share our values. Most of those I have encountered in this regard would be described as religious conservatives—Catholics, Orthodox, Evangelicals, Conservative Jews—or small “l” libertarians. This, then, I suppose, could be considered a community in dispersion, a diaspora.
What happened? I don’t feel that my wife and I have changed that much over twenty years. But the culture has. When we were “liberals,” we distrusted government, had homebirths, ate organic, and homeschooled. Values we still maintain. Liberals in those days supported that kind of ethos. Now, with the liberal rise to power and permeation of culture, the support for individual freedom has morphed into idolization of the State and “regulation,” a chilling word when you think about it.
Perhaps in obsessing too much over political power, some liberals who once viewed the State with healthy suspicion—as a necessary evil, but still evil—have been intoxicated with the liberal ascendency—in the political arena, in the popular media, and in education—and forgotten who they were. As William Blake—one of history’s greatest psychologists—once wrote, “They became what they beheld.” I can’t otherwise explain it.
I hold to my suspicion—and I will no matter who is in the White House. I am not opposed to voting for a Democrat—but finding one who shares my values is becoming increasingly unlikely. I can’t vote for someone who feels that national security is dependent on being able to incarcerate American citizens indefinitely without trial, who supports the agricultural genocide undertaken by the poison company Monsanto, or who wants to coerce my faith—or anyone’s—into acting against its conscience. It’s just not natural.
Spero columnist Michael Martin PhD is a professor of English at Marygrove College.