As he addressed his supporters after defeating Eric Cantor in yesterday’s Virginia GOP primary, David Brat’s most obvious trait showed up in his first few sentences:
“I do want to give special thanks because in the bad times, I know where I went when things got bad. I went to God and I went to my family. And this little note was hanging on my door every day, and I read this every day. Luke 18:27, ‘Jesus replied, what is impossible with man is possible with God.'”
We’ve since learned that Brat holds a Masters of Divinity from Princeton and a PH. D. in Economics. Given this combination, some might expect the economic views of Jesus — render unto Caesar, care for the poor, etc. — to enlighten Brat’s own views. However, there appears to be little of that. So far, he has spewed only the usual right wing, free market talking points.
Today, the Washington Wire blog at the Wall Street Journal posted some fascinating excerpts from a paper published in 2011 in which Brat sounds surprisingly more Libertarian and populist.
“Can Christians force others to follow their ethical teachings on social issues? Note that consistency is lacking on all sides of this issue. The political Right likes to champion individual rights and individual liberty, but it has also worked to enforce morality in relation to abortion, gambling, and homosexuality. The Left likes to think of itself as the bulwark of progressive liberal individualism, and yet it seeks to progressively coerce others to fund every social program under the sun via majority rule. Houston, we have a problem. Coercion is on the rise. What is the root word for liberalism? (Answer: Liberty)
He goes on to cast further aspersions on the agendas of both sides.
“Do we trust institutions of the government to ensure justice? Is that what history teaches us about the State? Or do we live in particularly lucky and fortunate times where the State can be trusted to do minimal justice? The State’s budget is currently about $3 trillion a year. Do you trust that power to the political Right? Do you trust it to the Left? If you answered “no” to either question, you may have a major problem in the future.”
Most interesting, though, is Brat’s view of the rise of Hitler. The one thing that could have stopped it? Loving Christians, of course.
“Capitalism is here to stay, and we need a church model that corresponds to that reality. Read Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s diagnosis of the weak modern Christian democratic man was spot on. Jesus was a great man. Jesus said he was the Son of God. Jesus made things happen. Jesus had faith. Jesus actually made people better. Then came the Christians. What happened? What went wrong? We appear to be a bit passive. Hitler came along, and he did not meet with unified resistance. I have the sinking feeling that it could all happen again, quite easily. The church should rise up higher than Nietzsche could see and prove him wrong. We should love our neighbor so much that we actually believe in right and wrong, and do something about it. If we all did the right thing and had the guts to spread the word, we would not need the government to backstop every action we take.“
Only problem is, most of those loving Christians have neighbors who are Jews. Or undocumented immigrants.
And Brat won by appealing to a rabidly anti-immigration base.
The full twelve-page article is available from Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology. The good folks there will only charge you thirty bucks for it.