The recent conservative infatuation with Kanye West showcases an issue within the conservative party. I had begun to formulate some thoughts on this matter when I ran across an article by J.J. Muccollough, who said, “An obsession with building up superficially cool but intellectually preposterous right-wing celebrities has already led to disasters such as Milo Yiannopoulos, and one can’t help but feel a grim sense of déjà vu as an ever-growing parade of semi-coherent supposed conservatives from Hollywood, pop music, and YouTube are hyped by conservative media outlets desperate for validation by young, hip audiences.”
Desperately running after validation and utilizing an “entertainment” driven model to draw people to one’s political party only creates unrealistic expectations and sets any party up for failure. It is not our responsibility to amuse the people or to make our cause seem hip and cool. This falls in line with the “peanut butter gospel” principle I learned in college. In short, this principle tells the story of a pastor who challenged all his youth to bring a friend to church, and if everyone did so, he would lick peanut butter off another staff member’s feet. Of course, all the students brought a friend, and the pastor held up his end of the bargain. The problem with this gimmick is the future need to ask, “What about next time? How will the pastor top that stunt and entice new visitors to attend?” By now, visitors expect to be entertained, but everyone knows the stunts have to increase in dramatization in order to continue drawing visitors.
Similarly, the message of true conservatism and, more importantly, the message of Christianity, do not need celebrity endorsement nor amusing stunts. When we grasp desperately at even the shallowest of approvals from celebrities, we often allow the basic tenets of conservatism to be sacrificed on the altar of trendy. “Desperation rarely produces flattering results” and younger generations, specifically millennials, can smell counterfeit conservatism and fraudulent faith a frat party away. We must aspire to hold to our principles no matter if the wind blows a celebrity our way or not.
Of course, we must always be open to newcomers and their ideas, but only after we have questioned the integrity of their motives. This is “The Kanye Question” and, as Muccollough says, “The key is sizing up the motive animating the alleged new right-wing personality. Does the rhetoric of the nouveau-conservative appear to be coming from a place of genuine political interest? Do his opinions reflect a desire to engage in arguments beyond the present moment? Or has he simply discovered a new way to get in front of the cameras and exploit the wishful thinking of a uniquely desperate audience?” Motive, motive, motive.
Whether it be the gospel of Christ or the tenets of conservatism, the message itself is what should draw people to Christianity or to conservatism. Otherwise, as the cultural winds blow, so will the people - from one party to the next and from one belief system to another. Indeed, the only key is understanding a person’s motive; this motive ought to be a strong belief in and true understanding of the foundational principles - bringing true staying power.