Emptiness is defined negatively as the absence of something. It can involve structures which are not occupied or filled, as in empty bottles. Emptiness can refer to situations lacking reality, substance or meaning, as in empty pleasures. Actions can be empty when they have no consequences, as in empty gestures or threats.

As the presidential election cycle edges ever nearer, it is hard not to see something of all of these manifestations of emptiness. This happens despite the growing number of socialists and leftists who are throwing their hats into the ever-more-crowded ring. The field is full, but the candidates are empty. Their promises are loud yet lack substance. Paraphrasing Shakespeare, there is plenty of sound and fury signifying nothing.

A Festival of Emptiness

It is still too early to speculate on the circus of the 2020 presidential race. However, given the present slate of leftist candidates, it is safe to say that the presidential primaries will be defined negatively by their lack of substance.

The primaries will be a festival of emptiness. They will reflect a profound malaise in public discourse shaped much more by emotion than reason. There will be the trivialization of important issues like infanticide that will be reduced to liberal platitudes and catchphrases. There will be deliberate mischaracterizations of conservative views, and seething contempt for all things once considered archetypal American.

The primaries will be contests to see which millionaire can be more common, ordinary, and proletarian. They will live-stream themselves listening, shopping, eating ethnic foods, or getting dental treatment (see Beto O’Rourke). All this is a sad reflection of these post-Kavanaugh, post-Covington times that thrive upon emptiness, rage, and entertainment, and facilitate lives without constraint or commitments.

Empty Opinions and Identities that Offend No One

Thus, expect to see a primary season without strong categorical opinions affirming objective principles. Empty people have weak opinions about everything and strong views about nothing. Their empty discourse is all about the freedom to do and be whatever one wants to do, be, or self-identify as. For this to happen, a strong reality cannot get in the way. Empty candidates must promise to change or reconstruct “reality” to accommodate the most bizarre postmodern trans-fantasies.

That is why empty people also have no strong identity but try to identify with everything even if it involves only 1/1024 of one percent of something, vague feelings of empathy, or the hispanization of a name.

The Problem with Strong Opinions

Indeed, strong opinions can get empty people into trouble. For all the talk about freedom, empty people are not free to stray outside politically correct boundaries. Empty people have an irrational fear of being called a –phobe, whether it be an Islamophobe, homophobe, transphobe, and any other –phobe designation except Christianophobe. They are phobo-phobes that melt like snowflakes when put under scrutiny. They are willing to apologize with alacrity for their race, background or any offending mishap past or present.

Another problem with strong opinions is that they usually involve concrete costs. Empty proposals have the advantage in that they might be offered free of charge. In an empty world, no one needs to pay for college, healthcare, basic income, or some utopian ecological schemes. Empty people do not think about the high cost of free things but can fantasize about the infinite uses of other people’s money.

A Moral Wasteland

The real tragedy of the empty people is that they can only thrive in a moral wasteland. Emptiness cannot exist inside a framework full of moral principles and norms. It must burst out of restraints and be free to affirm everything and nothing at the same time. Emptiness recognizes no moral authority save that of the self that turns all into gods of their whims.

That is why empty candidates will never argue about the moral issues that divide the country. They will dismiss the issues of infanticide, abortion, assisted suicide, and traditional marriage since they involve personal responsibility, sin, and blame. Far easier is the empty universe that always blames people’s misfortunes on oppressive structures and unfair advantages.

The Affirmation of Something

Given the hollow nature of emptiness, one might be tempted to think that the coming elections will be boring and uneventful or at least shallow and entertaining. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The candidates will be brutal, ruthless, and unforgiving, especially when confronted by anyone sufficiently deplorable to question their emptiness.

Empty people are willing to accept or tolerate almost everything. However, the one thing that disturbs the tranquility of emptiness is the categorical and exclusive affirmation of something. The partisans of emptiness will explode in rage and fury when they find a strong principle, a moral norm… or an innocent baby that fills the void and stands in the way of their empty lives.

God Alone Suffices

The postmodern crisis of the West is one of emptiness since it swallows all things. The surviving structures of the liberal order defended by conservatives are hollowed out and failing. Even the left’s own institutions of political thought and organizing are being reduced to rubble. Everything is a shell of its former self and threatens to come crashing down. Thus, the coming crisis is much more existential than political.

The only way out of this crisis is to affirm strong categorical moral principles that challenge the emptiness. Those who assume this role must have special recourse to God and the Blessed Mother to come to their aid. They must make use of the doctrinal and spiritual treasures of the Church that have historically shifted the balance to favor those who fight for God and a Christian civilization that reflects all that is good, true, and beautiful. Indeed, God alone can fill the existential void that troubles postmodern hearts.

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

Editor’s Note: The featured image is “Triumph of the Deputies” (1754-1755) by William Hogarth (1697-1764), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

All comments are moderated and must be civil, concise, and constructive to the conversation. Comments that are critical of an essay may be approved, but comments containing ad hominem criticism of the author will not be published. Also, comments containing web links or block quotations are unlikely to be approved. Keep in mind that essays represent the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Imaginative Conservative or its editor or publisher.

Leave a Comment
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Voiced by Amazon Polly