In Part One I discussed the idea that our republic was founded on the principles of virtue in the people and the leaders. In Part Two we will look at this bridge that is one too far.
Virtues such as those outlined by Franklin, elevate personal character, and in so doing, it elevates society as a whole. Having virtuous principles ruling our lives helps us renounce prejudice and discrimination, giving validity to “all men are created equal.” The qualities and characteristics of virtue are the cornerstones of self-governance.
There have been two schools of thought since the beginning, we are capable of ruling ourselves, or we are not.
For over 100 years, most Americans believed the best government was the least government. Around 1890, progressivism began to creep in. As virtue became less important, so did the idea that government was a good substitute for virtues. As government grew, so did regulations, laws, and spending. I mentioned in Part One that this was the beginning of elites determining they were better suited to make decisions for the people.
The government’s insatiable appetite for money gave us the Income Tax which more than anything else, made us slaves to a new master. Prohibition was the ultimate nanny watching out for our best interests. Eugenics and population control advocates were hard at work to eliminate the “less desirables,” and still today, we have the remnants of that movement in Planned Parenthood.
Our legal system was largely built around the writings of Blackstone, which was based on Civil Law and Biblical Principles. In the late 19th century, the move was made to leave that foundation and give more weight to precedent and evolving legal view.
Education was taken over by the likes of Thomas Dewey and other progressives. We were convinced things such as Kindergarten were important for the eventual college experience. This gave educators much more time with our children that the parents- time to form young minds. Vladimir Lenin said, “Give me four years to teach the children, and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”
On January 11th, 1944, FDR gave the State of the Union Address calling for a “new” bill of rights.
“The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation; the right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation; The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living; The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad; The right of every family to a decent home; The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health; The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment; The right to a good education. All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.”
Do we not see that a large number of people believe these are “rights” today?
When named regulatory czar under Obama, Cass Sunstein was excited to have what he understood to be one of the most powerful positions in the country. He knew that through regulations, people could be “nudged” in a desired direction. In fact, Mr. Sunstein wrote a book entitled “Nudge.” His theory is that people can be nudged over time to a point, and then be shoved over the line whether they like it or not.
A Bridge Too Far- I believe this can be applied in different ways. I did not intend this to mean we are too far from the bridge. However, we are indeed too far from the bridge we crossed to freedom. What I see is an effect from the Cass Sunstein method.
Our nation was founded on self-evident rights and liberties, granted by God (or nature) and guaranteed and protected by the government.
“…That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…”. As people have been nudged over the years, further and further away from the virtues and principles that are the cornerstone of our foundation, they are becoming more and more bitter. Ben Franklin warned, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
When government proves itself to be self-serving, rather than a servant to the people, the people will become more and more cynical. They will become more susceptible to the idea of conspiracies. From the lunar landing to the 9/11 attacks, to “chemtrails,” to FEMA camps- people are willing to believe the worst of the government. And why not? They see people who have every appearance of being guilty, not only not prosecuted, but running for President. We are told we must buy certain health insurance and cannot refuse or buy something not approved. We cannot buy or sell raw milk, buy the light bulb we want, or the “wrong” toilet. We see land taken and made off limits, people fined for building a pond on their own land, and more. Agencies declare us guilty without due process, I could go on and on.
This gave rise to the rhetoric of Donald Trump, and his popularity. People have stopped having civil discourse, the exchange of ideas and resorted to shouting and arguing. On one side, people feel pushed over the edge, and on the other side they feel they are about to lose all the “progress” they have made. We are seeing on both sides the effects of a departure from the standard of the Constitution, in most cases without using the defined methods in Article V of the document.
In reality, the people on both sides are not that far apart. The government picking winners and losers in banking and business is something both sides can agree on, if we’d stop shouting at each other long enough to realize it. People are burning the Berkeley Campus, over what? Afraid they will lose their rights, is that not common with us?
The bridge too far is government going too far from the principles of virtue and the foundational documents. This has caused problems on both sides of the aisle. If you were to try and throw someone off a cliff, they will resist and struggle, but when you get close to the edge they will scratch, claw, bite, and do anything to save themselves.
I mentioned prohibition earlier. Prohibition was done with good intentions, but forgot human nature. Organized crime began on a grand scale, which, in turn, begat the first infringement on the 2nd amendment.
Let’s look marriage. Historically, marriage was a religious arrangement. Those not religious, simply did what they wanted. And as Thomas Jefferson said, “If it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg,” he had no right nor desire to control another’s belief. Government only got into the marriage business in an effort to control behavior, typically inter-racial marriages. Previously people simply made a vow to each other and were considered married, even by churches. It was mid 19th century, post-Civil War that most states began to require a state-issued license.
In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled on marriage. In reality, they ruled on the government’s intervention of marriage. I was disappointed in people like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee who bought into the issue at hand when the larger issue was, should the government be in the business of telling who can and cannot marry? An issue that exists only because of government intervention now drives a wedge, a wedge that need not be there.
We are at a precipice.
At this point, do we even know who is trying to throw who over the edge? We just know we are in a struggle for our lives. We see the abyss before us, the other guy must be the villain, right? Do you realize that Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Ruth Ginsberg were great friends? Are there two people who were of more different political views? Yet they were able to be not only civil, but genuine friends.
It is time we recognize what our founders knew, and that our current government does not. I honestly believe we have waited far too long, and that we cannot “undo” the damage done. Even something like Obamacare will likely never be removed – we’ll be handed something else, and told it’s better. Half of us will believe it, and half will not, and the fight will go on. My efforts are to build a foundation for a regeneration when this mission fails.
My efforts are to build a foundation for a regeneration when this mission fails.
What mission? When the allies pushed too far, they reached a point of no return. The progressives have done the same. They have damaged the fabric of the republic, and destroyed the cornerstone. They have pushed us to a place of $20 trillion in debt and growing daily. They have convinced a healthy portion of the people that they are owed things that should be worked for. They have divided us to the point we even fight amongst ourselves. Our only hope is for us to return to the virtues that built the republic in the first place.
Photo Credit: “Ponte Vasco da Gama”, © 2014 Paulo Valdivieso, Flickr | CC-BY-SA