The worst Christmas song I've heard this year has to be Bruce Springsteen's tuneless rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Yet by forcing me to think about the lyrics, the Boss delivered a flash of insight: conservatives do the jolly old elf a grave wrong in calling him the patron saint of something-for-nothing Democrats. We should claim Santa as our own.
Listing who's been bad and good, naughty and nice? Warning us not to cry (play the victim) or pout (cast blame and act entitled)? There's little difference, when you think about it, between St. Nick and St. Newt. George Will himself could hardly be more stern and judgmental. Santa Claus rightly understood is a far cry from the socialist redistribution of John Edwards or the syrupy hope of Obama.
Even if recast from the unnerving red-clad (red, Republican, get it?) bearded geezer of yore to the more kid-friendly persona of Mr. Rogers, as David Grimes recommended in Sunday's Denver Post, Father Christmas remains a no-nonsense apostle of good conduct, rigorous standards, and time-honored traditions. The "Santa's Coming" song, even when butchered by Springsteen, is just the opposite of that favorite left-liberal anthem, "Anything Goes."
Jeffrey Bell, writing in the Weekly Standard, offers a great Christmas gift for all of us on the right with this masterful summary of what the left really wants -- a total repudiation of St. Nicolas and his strictness, a hot revolution that would melt the North Pole faster than you can say Al Gore:
"The goal of the left is the liberation of mankind from traditional institutions and codes of behavior, especially moral codes. It seeks a restoration (or achievement) of a state of nature, one of absolute individual liberty--universal happiness without the need for laws. The proposed political way stations chosen by the left in its drive toward this vision have [included]: abolition of private property (socialism); prohibition of Christianity and/or propagation by the political elite of a new civil religion to replace it; confiscatory taxation, especially at death; regulation of political speech to limit the ability of certain individuals or classes to affect politics; the takeover of education to instill new values and moral habits in the population; confiscation of privately held firearms; gradual phasing out of the nation-state; displacement of the traditional family in favor of child-rearing by an enlightened governmental elite; and the inversion of sexual morality to elevate recreational sex and reduce the prestige of procreative sex."
Some list, huh? It adds up to the exact opposite of "be good for goodness' sake." And notice, by the way, that this injunction from Santa Claus, courtesy of songwriter Haven Gillespie, doesn't merely appeal to utilitarian self-interest. Rather it invokes a moral absolute which, when obeyed, is its own reward. A pitch-perfect echo of Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" and "Theory of Moral Sentiments," in what you thought was just an empty Yuletide ditty. Mirabile dictu!
Lest we forget, however, the true reason for this season is neither St. Nick on the right nor Holiday Hillary on the left, but the baby born in Bethlehem. The Prince of Peace transcends liberal and conservative. He is a miracle even more mysterious than a large man ascending a small chimney. None of us is good enough to deserve His unspeakable gift, salvation and life eternal, yet none of us is so bad as to be disqualified from it. There indeed is a present worth unwrapping. A merry and, yes, a holy Christmas to all.