Is it possible? Could it be true? Is Santa really a conservative?
It all began when an innocent no-name newscaster introduced a sound bite from a senator he described as a moderate democrat. It got me thinking, who had selected that label? Certainly the politician didn’t do it. More likely, the media assigned the title based only on the senator’s position on the currently hot topic.
I wondered, in this day of information overload, have labels become a convenient way to short cut the listening process, allowing us to tune out anyone labeled as an opponent and accepting–perhaps too readily–the words of those we label as friends?
It’s certainly clear that opponents use labels to distort and deliberately oversimplify competing ideas while the media happily joins in to avoid doing the tough job of finding and reporting the truth.
Then it struck me, what about the big guy in red … Santa himself. Should I label him?
It was a little difficult at first. So, I took the first conservative principle I could think of (limited government) and gave it a shot. It worked! Clearly, Santa is a conservative. Why else would he set up shop at the North Pole if it weren’t to get away from politicians and oppressive government rules?
I decided to try another. How about traditional family values? That was almost too easy. I’d bet Mrs. Claus, Santa’s wife of over 100 years, could easily vouch for his conservative views on this subject.
Religion? Now I was on a roll. Everyone recognizes Santa as the modern interpretation of the traditional religious icon Saint Nick! He even emulates him in his dress and methodology.
Perhaps a quick history lesson here will help. Saint Nicholas was a fourth century Catholic Priest (eventually becoming a Bishop) who used his large inheritance (that he abandoned for personal use when he took the priesthood) to help struggling families get back on their feet. His method was to secretly, at night, leave bags of gold in the shoes or stockings of the recipients.
Sometimes he got caught, but then, after soliciting a vow of silence from the recipients, he continued his philanthropic ways. Some forgot to keep their word, so now we have the tradition of Santa and of putting golden oranges in the toes of stockings at Christmastime.
But wait; don’t the talking heads of media give philanthropy to liberals? Maybe, but they’re wrong.
A Campbell Rinker study recently found that households that describe themselves as conservative tend to give more money to charities than moderate and liberal households, and, while conservatives give more than their peers, they are less likely to tell others about it. Sounds like Saint Nick/Santa to me.
The ideas kept flowing. He runs a small business without government subsidies, carries no debt, takes no government handouts and keeps his giving private. He is meticulous in keeping the books, making his lists and checking them twice.
He is obviously no animal-rights radical (he was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot…) and he ignores political correctness and roars with joy his greeting of “Merry Christmas” wherever he goes.
And yet, the more I pondered the question, and made up attributes that fit my philosophy, the more I realized that with just a little effort, I could have just as easily have proved Santa a liberal.
Even in my wildest imaginings I couldn’t find a stand for Santa on free markets, abortion, property rights, gun control… and many other core political issues. In fact, it felt wrong in some way to label the big guy in red while he worked year round in a realm above politics.
But this of course, is political commentary. Maybe the lesson hidden in the Santa tradition is that during this special season we should put away the politics and let the higher messages of love, giving and redemption sweep over us all, whether conservative, liberal, socialist or libertarian.
When you look at it from Santa’s point of view, it’s sort of surprising to see how much we agree on some pretty basic and important things – things that our political biases normally won’t allow us to admit we agree on. And just maybe, in the spirit of keeping Christmas year round we might consider backing off the political labels and actually listening to each other for once.
For me, as a Christian, Christmas is first and foremost a celebration of Christ. Yet even so, Santa has served humanity for hundreds of years as a wonderful, non-denominational symbol of peace, joy and brotherly love to people of all faiths, races and political persuasions.
And I think he might just approve of at least this much political advice, “Merry Christmas to all (regardless of your political persuasion) and to all a good night.”