You good people certainly don’t need the likes of me to proclaim what any American with half the brains God gave a smart goose can ascertain after perusing the Internet for half an hour: this nation – a glorious republic founded by men the likes whom we shall never see again – is in peril…dire peril.
When the Constitutional Convention announced the formation of a new government in 1787, the inestimable Dr. Franklin was asked precisely what they had given the American people.
“A republic,” he responded, “if you can keep it.”
Ah……if you can keep it. Well, here we are over two centuries later, having been summoned by the dire nature of the present circumstances and abjured by the demands of history to set right what has been so terribly misaligned.
Fortunately we still have the power of the ballot – a power we exercised in 2010 in the desperate hope of peacefully undoing the damage that has been inflicted upon this republic in the past three years. The Founders did not bequeath us a democracy governed by the whims of men and the rule of the mob nor an empire where a select few wield absolute power over the many. Rather, we inherited a representative republic governed by a Constitution that precisely enumerates the powers of the central government, where the rule of law applies to everyone. It was a republic characterized by Virtue, Self-Reliance, Education and Unity – the four Cardinal Strengths that made America an exceptional nation and the greatest force for liberty and prosperity in human history.
If we strive to practice the virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude in a spirit of charity, humility and patience, no travail or tumult can shake the foundation of our national house. On the other hand, if human passions are not restrained by religion and morality, no government would be powerful enough to contend with them. John Adams never hesitated to point out that our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people and therefore is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
Only by dint of self-reliance will a virtuous people flourish in liberty and prosperity. The surest way for any government to exercise total power over its citizens is to make them utterly dependent upon it for their very means of survival. Let us be wary of government that does for us what we ought to do for yourselves, for any government powerful enough to dispense such largess is likewise powerful enough to take from us all the bounty of our labor.
If a virtuous and self-reliant people are properly educated, no seduction of sophistry can mislead them. Mr. Jefferson was quite right when he said that no nation can expect to be free and ignorant in a state of civilization. A knowledgeable citizenry is critical to the longevity of a healthy republic just as surely as an ignorant citizenry is the most powerful tool a tyrant can wield to destroy it.
Lastly, the crowning practical strength of any virtuous, self-reliant and well-educated people is their unity and this finds expression in a common language, a common culture and a common sense of patriotism. The epigram of the United States – E Pluribus Unum (of many, one) – describes not merely the confederation of thirteen colonies united in the cause of liberty and independence but America itself: a vast melting pot where the living metal of every nation, race and creed on the planet is refined and amalgamated into a distinctively American alloy of exceptional strength and remarkable durability.
These Cardinal Strengths are the measure by which we may gauge both the health and well-being of our republic and the intrinsic worth of those whom we elect to legislatures or executive offices.
In my humble opinion, anyone who does not meet the measure of these standards is totally unworthy of any office of public trust – either elected or appointed – and any society that abandons them will be doomed to the same decline endured by ancient Rome and fall as spectacularly as she did.
So where, precisely, does this leave us in an age where the mainstream journalistic and entertainment media have, for all practical purposes, abandoned even the pretense of objectivity and abjectly whored themselves to statist liberalism, the Democrat Party and the Obama administration in that order?
I suppose we may content ourselves with the alternative news media and the blogosphere and be thankful for the information provided by these outlets. Doubtless, no small measure of comfort is achieved whenever the choir receives a well-known sermon from a well-known pastor or a familiar shepherd feeds and tends his flock in familiar pastures. But – as a young rabbi in Judea observed two thousand years ago – “there are many sheep not of this flock.”
In the present case, these sheep vote.
Therein lies both peril and opportunity. I believe we have reached what contemporary analysts call a “tipping point” in our historical progression from 1781 –where it appears that all four of the Cardinal Strengths necessary for the vitality and longevity of this republic have been perilously compromised.
While it is true that, as a nation, the United States is perhaps the most religiously active of any in the free world does this necessarily translate into moral virtue? How sincerely do we as a nation strive to practice prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude – and how pervasive is the spirit of charity, humility and patience in our society these days? Ask any senior citizen who remembers life in the early to mid 20th century and you will have your answer – only it won’t be a pretty one.
The past seventy five years have witnessed a growth in the welfare state so profound and far-reaching it can only be described as metastatic and we are fast approaching that fateful year when there will be no one alive who can remember a time when Americans were the most self-reliant – and most charitable – people on earth.
We now live in the age of the federal handout, where Congress doles out heaping helpings of our own tax dollars to individuals, groups, organizations, private businesses, states and even other nations – almost all of it in direct violation of the United States Constitution. We as a nation and a society no longer depend upon ourselves and each other but instead gaze longingly at Uncle Sam as we pray in earnest: “Our father who art in Washington, DC, hallowed be thy largess.”
What happens, then, to a people whose moral musculature has atrophied and whose backbone of self-reliance has become the quivering jelly of dependence? It follows that any zeal for education is eventually smothered in the miasma of a debased culture where more people can tell you what happened last week on MTV’s Jersey Shore than can tell you what happened 230 years ago in Yorktown Heights.
Just before he departed the company of Ebenezer Scrooge, the Ghost of Christmas Present revealed two filthy, half-starved children cowering beneath his robe.
“Spirit, are they yours?” Scrooge asked.
“No, they are man’s,” replied the ghost. “This boy is ignorance. This girl is want. Beware of both of them, but most of all, beware the boy – for on his forehead I see that written which is doom, unless the writing is erased. If you deny him, slander those who tell others about him, admit he exists but do nothing about it, then doom will engulf you all.”
You don’t need me to tell you how far our educational standards have fallen in the short course of just one generation. Our public school system is a hostage of public sector unions and corrupt politicians more interested the agglomeration of power, privilege and wealth than erasing doom from the forehead of ignorance. It is no surprise then that the boy is now legion and may be found cowering everywhere – including the voting booth – where millions of uneducated, undereducated and ill-educated people let the boy vote for them.
No surprise then that our national unity has been shattered to a degree not seen since the Civil War. Indeed, the chasm of division is deeper and wider now than it has ever been at any point in our history, for it goes beyond the issues of slavery and states’ rights. In Abraham Lincoln’s day Northerners and Southerners shared many common cultural, religious and social values despite their obvious differences.
Not so today: our nation of hyphenated Americans has become perilously balkanized; the cords of common language, common culture and common patriotism are frayed to the point of snapping apart. Make no mistake: the Second Civil War – presently a cold war – began a decade ago and if the present climate continues unabated, it may be the will of Heaven that our republic will face calamities more wasting and distresses far more dreadful than anything we can presently imagine.
These days our imagination need not wander far afield. The Executive branch of the United States government has arrogated to itself a degree of power beyond anything ever imagined or exercised by King George, where a Man-Child President has determined he will rule by executive order and administrative decree.
The Legislative branch has become a Parliament populated with either corrupt and serviceable villains or feckless and pusillanimous weaklings; although it underwent a change in its constituent membership in 2010, the influx of reformers wasn’t enough to yield a harvest of reform and another infusion of fresh blood will be necessary this November.
The Judicial branch is in peril of being overrun with jurists more interested in rewriting the Constitution than interpreting it and is just once activist Justice away from becoming an executive branch rubber stamp. Pray long and hard for the health and well-being of Justices Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, Alito and Kennedy: they are all that stand between the rule of law and the whims of men.
The once limited federal government of our ancestors is today a bureaucratic Leviathan – a juggernaut of regulation and control whose abuse of power dwarfs by any measure in our day the over-reaching arrogance of the British government in the days of the Founders and I have no doubt that if he could be made witness to what his American colonies would one day become, King George III would blanche in horror.
Fortunately, in spite of the divisions that rend our nation, there exists an opportunity to correct our course. There still remain enough Americans who embody the Cardinal Strengths to influence many of those who do not. No longer restricted by the quill pen and the printing press, we have the power of instantaneous conversation with unimaginable numbers of people over incomprehensible distances. We have the Internet – at least until the FCC assumes total control of it – and are therefore obliged to make extensive and unrelenting use of it to alert and educate our fellow citizens and organize ourselves to confront the approaching catastrophe – and I do mean to use that word to describe it.
If we are unable to stop the mad progress of our own federal government, the day will come when the freedoms we presently take for granted will not survive a new dark age of despotism. We mustn’t allow this to happen, for chains and slavery will most assuredly be waiting for us when that nightfall descends – and it will not descend with the sudden shock of a light switch being turned off, but rather, in the softness of encroaching twilight – imperceptible to the eye until darkness engulfs all.
The burden of saving this republic has fallen with as much oppressive weight upon our shoulders as the onerous responsibility for creating it fell upon that of the Founders. We are the last hope for liberty and it is incumbent upon us to ensure that it survives. If we do not face the enormity of the task, who will face it? If the decisive blow is not struck now, when – if ever – will it be struck? I assure you that if we have the fortitude of our convictions and the valor to act upon them while the opportunity to peacefully do so still exists, we may yet avert catastrophe.
On the other hand, if fortitude and valor are absent from that field of political battle then God have mercy on us, because an appeal to arms and to Heaven will be the only recourse our generation will have against a Leviathan far more powerful than any tyranny a much earlier generation ever faced. President Ronald Reagan expressed this challenge as eloquently as any of our nation’s Founders could have when he said,
“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”
We are the posterity for whom our ancestors hazarded their all at a great expense of treasure, tears and blood to bequeath the very liberty that is now in dire peril of perishing from the face of the earth. Our generation must decide whether or not we will preserve it for our posterity and ensure they will make a good use of it. If not, a much earlier generation will repent in Heaven that they endured half the pain to obtain it.