HOW HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF

Lincoln swearing-in at the partially finished U.S. Capitol. (from here)
Lincoln swearing-in at the partially finished U.S. Capitol. (from here)

It is late, a long day.  So I reviewed the comments on WHAT IS THE POINT OF LIMITED AND SECULAR GOVERNMENT? with both astonishment and dismay. What should I say? I have got to go and get some sleep. Should I say anything? I decided that I would have to. Why? Why have I and others tried to make an issue limited and secular, constitutional government?

On Friday, January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will become our president.

President-elect Donald Trump told “Fox & Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt that he doesn’t mind Democratic members of Congress boycotting his inauguration, saying “I hope they give me their tickets.”

At least 60 Democratic members of the House of Representatives have opted to miss Friday’s ceremonies, most notably Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who said last week that he did not consider Trump a “legitimate” president.

“I think he just grandstanded, John Lewis, and then he got caught in a very bad lie, so let’s see what happens,” said Trump, referencing Lewis’ initial claim that Trump’s would be the first inauguration he’s missed – despite having previously boycotted George W. Bush’s 2001 inauguration. (continued here)

What the Democrat’s boycott reminded me of was the start of the American Civil War.  How did that begin?

In the November 1860 election, Lincoln again faced Douglas, who represented the Northern faction of a heavily divided Democratic Party, as well as Breckinridge and Bell. The announcement of Lincoln’s victory signaled the secession of the Southern states, which since the beginning of the year had been publicly threatening secession if the Republicans gained the White House.

By the time of Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven states had seceded, and the Confederate States of America had been formally established, with Jefferson Davis as its elected president. One month later, the American Civil War began when Confederate forces under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina. In 1863, as the tide turned against the Confederacy, Lincoln emancipated the slaves and in 1864 won reelection. In April 1865, he was assassinated by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after the American Civil War effectively ended with the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. (from here)

The Democrat’s boycott of the inauguration obviously is not as serious as states seceding from the Union, but it is a clear sign we risk loosing our nation’s capacity to peacefully transfer power from one party to another. Just as the Democrats once demanded slavery, they now demand unquestioned obedience to …… to what? When it comes down to it, big government is a nebulous thing. What is it that the Democrats don’t want to control?  What is the property they refuse to give up? Who are their precious slaves now?

Where does the root of the Democratic Party’s power rest? It rest upon their ability to buy votes with other people’s money, what we call redistributing the wealth. Thus far I have been unable to convince some commenters, two in particular, that redistributing the wealth is toxic to a constitutional republic. Just calling it stealing does not seem to work. So this weekend I will write a post that uses a starkly  different approach.

Again, I thank those who commented. Interesting, to say the least.

7 thoughts on “HOW HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF

  1. “It rest upon their ability to buy votes with other people’s money, what we call redistributing the wealth.”

    Examining Trump’s tax plan, his backers, and his cabinet, the GOP appears to rest their power on much the same principle.

    Furthermore, connecting the current Democrat Party to the one during the Civil War is a nominalist argument when you know full well that the current one exists after the remnants of the old party left and joined the Reagan coalition and stayed there, forming much of the states rights wing of the GOP. Its how Reagan won the South.

    You have been unable to convince said commenters because you have been unable, thus far, to actually argue against their positions, preferring to rest upon rhetoric that neither fits our views nor makes sense even if we were of that position. It appears you are unable to argue with someone who rejects Liberalism as a whole and therefore doesn’t base his principles on the ones you argue against.

    Tell me, how can I be a socialist when I reject the very foundation of socialism i.e. that material possessions are sufficient to improve the quality of life in mankind?

    Furthermore, how can I be for a centralized government when I have repeatedly advocated a subsidiarity model?

    The essential point you have not addressed is that I believe in a universal destination of material goods based on the plain testimony of Sacred Scripture and Western theological and philosophical thought, and you don’t. Despite my protestations, you will always interpret my position as being inherently materialistic when it specifically rejects materialism. I don’t blame you; I blame Liberalism.

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  2. Comparing the Democratic boycott of Trump’s inauguration to the lead up to the Civil War is a bit over the top, don’t you think? Representative John Lewis is deserving of our great admiration and respect if he had done nothing else but put his life on the line (and nearly died) working with MLK during the Civil Rights movement. Equating Congressman Lewis’ peaceful act of protesting the inauguration with the Civil War’s Southern Democrats who violently rebelled in defense of owning the likes of Lewis astounds with its soaring perfidy of history. Revisonist fallacy is the favorite fake news of each individual siloed in his own media moment. If the ideology doesn’t fit history or logic, make up new facts and ignore the rational inconsistencies. Truth is in the individual beholders gut feeling, or as Steven Colberts’s right wing parody coined it, Truth has been replaced by “truthiness”.

    That said, the reason not to think Trump illegitimate hightlights the same inconsistencies that Stephen has been trying to explain. Delegitimizing Trump (just as Trump tried to delegitimize Obama) serves only to delegitimize the institution of the Presidency, an institution which we can only hope will actually remain bigger and more important than Trump’s yuge and amazing ego.

    Traditional Christians have historically supported and worked within the great institutions (church, state, military) because they recognized our dependence upon one another. For example, a great military leader is not one who agrandizes himself – such military leaders may be victorious for a time but they ultimately always end up corrupting that nation’s institutions through their own pride and vanity. Tom, your own example of Alexander the Great comes to mind. The really great historic military leaders recognized the foibles of our individual natures. Rather than believe that the institution serves them, as so many of us today think that all institutions should do, such traditionalists instead “served” the institution with selfless integrity. They learned to sacrifice their pride in order to make compromises and trade offs for the sake of the institution.

    What romantic liberalism has evolved into today chafes at the yoke of honorable and subservient institutional service of any kind. It glorifies the individual by telling everyone to rebel against even our best institutions, to just go do your own thing. It ignores every blessing of birth, but instead praises a meritocracy that idolizes fame, power, wealth, as if all of this was actually earned solely by the individual without his standing on the shoulders of so many institutions – its like saying that the fish somehow earns his own way without the benefit of the ocean he swims in.

    Such individualism flips morality on its head by turning vice into virtue. The natural result of individualism’s placing material goods above moral goods and raising the individual over the institution is a President Donald J. Trump. Yes, I’m sure he’ll be a very glorious President. We can only pray that his vaingloriousness does not end up destroying the institutions that he now leads.

    As Stephen points out, the moral inconsistency of this unholy marriage of classical liberalism with supposed Christian conservativism has engendered an aberration – a vision of Christianity that is morally and metaphysically at war with itself. I have only begun to understand this late in my life, but when the truth of this rationalist wrong turn began staring me in the face, I realized that it could only be pride in my own preconceptions that made me refuse to see its truth. In his previous posts, Stephen has explained this wrong turn and the resulting implosions to Christian theology far more eloquently than I can.

    Perhaps most telling of where we have come to is that, when explaining his faith, Donald Trump told Christian leaders that his religious thought was most influenced by the preacher at his church when he was young. The preacher was Norman Vincent Peale, one of the great early fomenters of what came to be known as the Prosperity Gospel. Peale’s Gospel of success was the natural next step after we start loving and admiring all our individual selves overmuch. We all have been taught to believe that institutions are inherently evil and that the heroic individual “self actualizes” his own morality without the institution, or indeed, in spite of it. Peales “The Power of Positive Thinking” told the individual to believe in yourself first and last in order to “succeed”, but succeed at what and for whom?

    I know, you will now point to all the institutions that were corrupt and whose loyal followers then did terrible things in the name of their idolized institution. But I would counter that the institutional man of integrity who is introspective knows his own selfish sinful nature, understands his own limitations and the limitations of all men, recognizes his own ignorance, distrusts his own rationalizing, and most importantly, knows whatever he is graced with comes from God’s merciful love, a love that when recognized naturally flows toward others. He tends to turn that deep soul searching introspection into tolerance and mercy, not blind ideological dogmatism. The institutional tribalism that has caused so much evil in the world derives from the corruption of pride and a false sense of superiority in its members and leaders, not from humility and selfless service.

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    1. You stated.

      “But I would counter that the institutional man of integrity ……”

      Not too sure this phrase will “suit:” many Illinois politicians, or a host more of politicians in our nation based on history of USA government instituted folly.

      Regards and goodwill blogging.

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      1. Scatterwisdom – I’m sure we agree that, with one famous exception, no man has perfect integrity, but that does not mean that we cannot be expected to try to act with virtuous integrity. It would seem that the struggle of our lives is the battle between our imperfect selfish natures and that sacrificial perfection, exemplified in for Christians in our lord Jesus, who we know we should emulate. However, do we condemn and destroy our very human institutions simply because those institutions sometimes reflect each our own corrupt natures, or instead do seek to reform and reconstruct the best of our institutions so that they are incrementally more virtuous and more just?

        We do not struggle away from sin and toward virtue all alone, nor are we meant to. We Christians are called to struggle together in constant communion as one body of Christ in every aspect of our personal and social lives whether it be in our marriages or in our family lives, in our church or in our civic life. If we chose to condemn and destroy the institutions of government simply because those institutions are made up of flawed men or because they often make mistakes, then we may as well condemn and destroy ourselves as well. No, the challenge seems to be the same for the individual as it is for the group. And that challenge is to struggle, to be imperfect, to make mistakes, to take one step back for every two steps forward, to lean on God and to lean on each other, to grow more virtuous muscles by the exercise and to become wiser by our individual and collective experience in that creative struggle.

        Tom- Pride in my own superior certainty of knowledge has always been the vice that I most struggle with personally. My own greatest ephiphanies were forged when forced to face the destruction of my most treasured dogmas. What little wisdom that I possess is therefore wrapped in confused sorrow, especially the sorrow that I feel for when I, in my most self-righteous pride of intellectual superiority, belittled and demonized those souls who disagreed with my pontifications. For when I have done this to you or others here in the past (and for when, in my pride, I may likely do it in the future), I sincerely apologize. Notwithstanding that, I stand by my post above, that for the Christian struggling toward truth, touting a Randian classical liberalism while preaching a dogmatic moral absolutism seems fraught with inconsistencies, both religious and rational. While I appreciate your scriptural expertise and your sincerity of belief, it does not seem that you have answered those inconsistencies. However, I’m willing to change my mind if you do.

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  3. @Tony and Stephen

    Am I trying to glorify Trump here? No. So that is not the issue.

    Did I attack Congressman John Lewis’ civil rights record? No So that is not the issue. Since they can’t stop talking about racism and prejudice of any kind, I find the victim mindset of Democrats rather of absurd, but it is what it is.

    When I read this letter (here => http://unityfeed.com/doc/10409/why-i-am-attending-the-inauguration-of-donald-trump?grp_id=0) from Senator Dick Durbin, I chuckled. It is typical politician-speak. He wants it both ways. Nevertheless, he acknowledges the importance of the peaceful transition of power.

    Trump played by the rules, and he won the election. H. Clinton seems to have avoided her rightful place in prison and still has the hundreds of millions she earned as a devoted civil servant. Nevertheless, the Democrats are bitter and full of devisive rhetoric. So I think this post appropriate.

    Once upon a time Democrats would have had us believe they were doing God’s work by using guns and whips to make colored men their property. Now they enslave others in the name of love. They point to our children, our old, our poor, our disabled, our sick, ….., and then they tell us they must take our money so they can love them for us. The mere mention of the word property does not excuse slavery. The mere mention of the word love does not excuse stealing.

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    1. “Am I trying to glorify Trump here?” I haven’t mentioned Trump and kinda confused by your bringing him up.

      “Did I attack Congressman John Lewis’ civil rights record?” Didn’t mention that either.

      “Now they enslave others in the name of love.” No, pretty sure they just say equality. Seeing as I reject the notions of the egalitarians and their social engineering descendants that material circumstances are sufficient to improve human conditions, any comparison of my position to their’s would be false on its very face.

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