NO POLITICAL FIX

childrenRecently I reblogged a highly interesting post, Reblog: Article V Of The Constitution. The Final Straw?. In Article V Of The Constitution. The Final Straw?, posted at Political RealitiesAvatarSirPublius examined whether we could use Article V of the Constitution to get our nation back to its constitutional roots. Essentially, Avatar proposed a legal remedy for our problems, and some folks with great minds blessed this blog with their comments on Avatar‘s post.

Why are  Avatar‘s post and those comments well worth reading?  When such able people grapple so anxiously over an issue so serious and so desperate, as nothing else will, such a discussion can persuade us we have a serious problem.

So what is this serious problem? Is our Constitution broken? Is there a technical fix? I don’t think so. Here is a reblog, No Political Fix to America’s Death Spiral, from Defining the Narrative, that defines the nature of the problem.

No Political Fix to America’s Death Spiral

Guest Column from GOPUSA by Matt Barber.  I have never met Matt but I think I know him quite well. He is singing my song here!  This is one of the best columns I have read for a long time.

The question is not, “Is America falling?” but, rather, “Why is America falling?”

I’m currently writing from CPAC 2014, the nation’s largest gathering of conservative political junkies. The event is being held at the beautiful Gaylord National hotel, adjacent to the scenic shoreline of the historic Potomac River. We’re just a few short miles from Washington, D.C., which, at least for now, remains the modern-day equivalent of the Roman Empire.

I say “at least for now” because America finds itself skipping along the primrose path to Rome’s ill-fated finale. I needn’t trouble you with evidence to that effect as this tragic reality is hopelessly inescapable. It’s a self-evident truth. Unless our next generation of leaders – Gen-Y Millennials – can successfully turn things around, we’re up the Potomac without a paddle. (continued here)

As he continues, what Matt Barber describes is moral decay. Is the moral decay that he describes real? I think so. Here is a personal example. For decades I have regularly visited athletic facilities to exercise.  Yet I have never seen children behave in a public place the way I did today. Done exercising, I am ready to clean up, drive home and eat supper. So I stripped and walk into the shower. Two little boys were clowning. When one of them started running around, I gave him that look that says behave or else. He calmed a bit and started using the shower next to his friend. Then he started throwing his swimsuit against the wall. I guessed he liked hearing it splat! That stupid, but it is his swimsuit. However, it did not stop there. Next he and his friend started mooning each other, and making a display of their private parts. So I asked them: do you know the difference between a human being and animal?

Well, that stopped them. They quit their foolishness and left the shower. Were they were ashamed or just made nervous by an old man? I don’t know.  I have a good guess, however, where they learned to behaved like that. Because we allow our children to be exposed to bad examples — we even imitate them ourselves — every year new forms of bad behavior become commonplace that were once taboo. That’s moral decay.

In the Book of Judges, I expect this is the key verse. It is also the last verse.

Judges 21:25 English Standard Version (ESV)

25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

When I first heard that verse, I did not realize what was meant. What did it say about the people of Israel? Here are a couple of proverbs that suggest what was wrong.

Proverbs 12:15 speaks of the way of the fool.

Proverbs 12:15 English Standard Version (ESV)

15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 21:2 observes why we each need to use the mirror God offers us.

Proverbs 21:2 English Standard Version (ESV)

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the heart.

When we study the Bible we learn to see ourselves as God sees us. Unless we make that effort, we can find the most abominable and selfish behavior perfectly acceptable. Thus, when God gave Jeroboam the opportunity to rule Israel, here is the choice He gave him.

1 Kings 11:37-38 English Standard Version (ESV)

37 And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and you shall be king over Israel. 38 And if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.

To do what is right, we must do what is right in God’s eyes. Unfortunately, today’s Americans do that less and less.

19 thoughts on “NO POLITICAL FIX

  1. The moral decay in America is the main problem we have. It is also the source of so many other problems. So unless that decay is repaired and reversed, a political fix for said problems is likely not in the works.

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    1. Thank you for your comment.

      The peculiar thing about the problem of moral decay is that the fix is relatively easy and and at the same time impossible

      It is impossible for me or you or anyone else to reverse what we perceive as moral decay in our neighbors. All we can do for others is pray.

      Similarly, we cannot reverse the rot of our own hearts. We can only set aside our pride and humbly beg help from our Creator. Yet with His example and the grace that is of God The Son of God conquered the Roman Empire and the hearts of so many today. It is that example He calls us to follow.

      God saves our souls. We can only spread His Gospel.

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    2. There has been a feedback loop in process for a long time, and it has led to this point. Much of it has been tied to a national-level education system, and national level control over various other aspects. If the states could grab back education, killing the NEA and allowing state-level control (and competition!), then there could be a gradual trend back toward sanity. It would be regional, but that might be enough to set examples to follow.

      And it is possible that state legislatures, even leftist ones, would seek to grab this control back for their own purposes. There are risks, of course. But a straight-line projection from where we are points in no good direction.

      With the elimination of national education, perhaps some pride in our country might re-assert itself, and that would gradually produce good effects. Some would come quickly.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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      1. Thanks for the comment. And I agree.

        The key is getting government out of the education business. True competition will kill the NEA.

        At one time, we could say the people running the public school system had good intentions, but it has become obvious that too many of the people involve just want control for their own sakes. The NEA and the politicians they support now reek of corruption.

        The experiment in public education is failing. For the sake of the children, we need to put their parents back in charge of their children’s education. Should the government provide support for the children of the poor. I think private charity would be better, but the parents need to be in charge in any case.

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  2. Although perhaps ancillary to the comment thread, which deals with more substantive matters, I would caution against extrapolating too grandly from the rowdy behaviour of two little boys in the shower, to a larger conclusion of moral decay on Gibbons-like, Roman Empire scale (of course, Gibbons attributed to Christianity some of the reasons for the Roman Empire’s military and political decline).

    I am old enough to have some observational perspective on this: I can remember as long as 60 years ago having seen quite similar behaviour by little boys in similar circumstances. I suspect if I were 200 years older than I am, I could think of similar behaviour by little boys in the 18th Century.

    I doubt that the boys learned that behaviour from their parents or their schools. They learned it from being unruly, hyperkinetic little boys out from under direct supervision by their parents.

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    1. Did I offer a personal anecdote as proof that our society is suffering moral decay? No. Perhaps I should have stated it up front, but I have no way of “scientifically” proving such a thing. Either we have seen the decline in morals — sighted increasingly numerous lapses in moral character — and believe our society has and is becoming more decadent or we don’t.

      How would one measure moral decay? What is a quantitative measure for moral decay? I don’t know. Do you? Could we assume the crime rate correlates with moral decay and use crime rate statistics? Perhaps, but I wonder how well that would work. In a society suffering from moral decay, at what point in the process of moral decay does the crime rate begin to increase? That is, can we rightly assume a direct correlation between increased crime and moral decay? If we think he answer is yes, how could we test such an assumption?

      There is also another problem with statistics. We can only trust statistics as much as we trust the people gathering them. If a society is suffering from moral decay, how we trust statistics that have such a huge political significance? Our leaders are honorable? How many people believe that anymore?

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  3. I certainly don’t have any better idea than you on how one would measure “moral decay” or even how to establish that it is occurring, if it is. Sometimes people describe change as moral decay, even when describing phenomena that represent moral improvement to others. On moral issues, the best approach, in my view, is to tend to one’s own morality and to hope to have some positive effect on others by example.

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    1. On moral issues, the best approach, in my view, is to tend to one’s own morality and to hope to have some positive effect on others by example.

      I do not disagree, but I think you have missed an important detail. What you suggest only works in a free society. That sort of society permits us to exercise our conscience freely.

      What is the principle problem with tyranny? Doesn’t a tyrant deny each individual the right to make his or her own choices? If you don’t have the right to choose to do what is right, how then will you have a positive effect on others with your example?

      Consider the position of the tyrant. The tyrant fears free men would choose “wrongly” and limit his power. Thus, tyrants insist upon using government power to decide every moral issue government power can be used to decide. Hence the drive for a cradle to grave welfare state.

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  4. Fortunately, I’ve never had to live under a tyrannical government, so I don’t really have much first-hand experience with what you’re talking about. Except for a relatively short stint in SE Asia, a week in Taiwan under Chiang Kai Shek (who ran a dictatorship, but one that was, by the standards of day, regarded as relatively benign, especially when compared with the competition across the Straits), a couple of weeks in South Africa under the apartheid regime (which truly was deeply tyrannical in many ways) and a few quick visits behind the Iron Curtain, I’ve always lived in the United States or Western Europe. But even based on that limited experience, I think “morality”, even in these oppressive situations, has to spring from within and has little to do with government. Obviously, one can think of horror stories where people are forced, at risk of loss of life of themselves or of loved ones, to commit unspeakable acts under the regimes I mentioned. At the core, however, each of us must decide. I just feel very fortunate never to have had to face those issues and to have had the luxury of living here.

    I am not inclined to think that governments have much to do with individual morality. That may be grounded in my religious beliefs, and it may be naive as applied to people who do not share my religious orientation. But I don’t think so.

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    1. Politicians (men and women whose beliefs almost inevitably differ from our own) already take and spend about half our paycheck. Politicians pressure us to educate our children in the schools they run. Politicians insist upon making our healthcare decisions for us. Politicians would force employers to provide contraceptives and make taxpayers pay for abortions…. When government spends six trillion a year and issues innumerable laws and regulations, no one even knows the full extent of its infringements upon the right of individuals to make their own moral choices. Yet you are not inclined to think that governments have much to do with individual morality? Is that a statement about our government or your own ideas about individual morality? At what point would you think a government tyrannical enough that it has anything to do with individual morality?

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  5. It’s a statement that I believe morality emanates from within the individual. And, yes, that is my own idea. Others may share it.

    I can conceive of (and have heard real world examples of) situations where oppressive governments have influenced individual moral choices. I mentioned the apartheid regime in South Africa. Each day there and then, people of all races were subject to sever penalties for failing to observe strict separation of the races. In the American South, first under the slave culture and then into the first seven decades of the last century, local governments imposed extremely strong pressures on people to act immorally with regard to their fellow men.

    In Nazi-occupied Europe, people faced terrible moral choices. For example, a family in the Netherlands was harboring Jews from the Nazis. An assassination of a collaborator occurred on the street on the line between their property and their neighbors. When the Gestapo came, the family harboring Jews deflected attention away from them toward the family next door for fear that a more thorough investigation would cause the Gestapo to find the Jewish fugitives. The family next door’s home was demolished and all four of them were sent to concentration camps. Only one survived the war. Both families were completely innocent of the assassination. The first family faced an extremely complicated moral choice that had no good answer.

    So, to answer your question, I can think of situations where governments can present people with difficult moral dilemmas. On the other hand, we live in an extremely liberal (in the non-political sense of the word) democracy where the impositions of government on individual choice, particularly moral choice are generally quite trivial.

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    1. There is a non-political sense of the word “liberal”? ❓

      When used as it was in the generation of our nation’s founders, liberal politicians saw their task as protecting each individual’s God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Hence taxes were low and the number of laws small.

      When used as it is today, liberal politicians see their task as giving each individual his “rights”. Thus, they see their job as redistributing the wealth, providing jobs, giving away health care, educating the masses, elevating the self-esteem of special constituencies, and so forth. Such liberalism provides an endless excuses for ever increasing government power. And it seems to me, though I know not why, you are protective of this modern form of liberalism.

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  6. The term “liberal” has many non-political meanings. You can look it up. It surprises me a little (perhaps it shouldn’t) that anyone with a modicum of education over the age of twelve would think it is only a political term.

    I am not particularly protective of “liberalism” as you define it. I am, however, as a conservative of the Buckley/Burke/Kirk school, also more than a bit wary of hyperbole and hysteria. There are legitimate policy objections to any number of government programs and initiatives with which you and I might agree. However, I think it a product of brittle ideology and submission to modern political marketing that low information, low analytical capability citizens are so eager to embrace extreme propagandistic depictions of conditions and motivations in a country where there is a great deal of individual freedom, material wealth, restraint on government activity, and general ability to tell the government to go pound sand if that is one’s desire.

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    1. Hmmm. The term “liberal” may have non-political meanings, but you used the term to define the political nature of our government. And then you insult me for not understanding? 😆

      I suppose the current regime is not yet ready to stop people from calling themselves , Republicans, Tea Partiers, or Conservatives (not even those of Buckley/Burke/Kirk school). In any event, I doubt you need to worry. How would they ever gather sufficient evidence to convict you?

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  7. Actually, I expressly said that I was using the word non-politically. And, of course, I didn’t insult you. I gave you credit for knowing that the word had non-political intimations and were just being pretending to be ignorant. If I believed you didn’t know that the word could have non-political content, well, that would have been insulting.

    What “current regime” are you talking about here, by the way?

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    1. You don’t know what is meant by the current regime? 🙄

      Now what would you think if I added this?

      It surprises me a little (perhaps it shouldn’t) that anyone with a modicum of education over the age of twelve doesn’t know what is meant by the “current regime”?

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  8. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors? The Virginia Board of Dentistry? The House of Windsor? The State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia? The Pontificate? The Putin regime in Russia?

    There are a lot of choices, Tom. I would think you would want to be more specific if you’re alluding to a group that might (but apparently, in your view, has not yet) set itself up to decide who can call themselves “conservative”. I know of no such Group, although RPV occasionally has such tendencies.

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