What issue does OF TWISTED WORDS => LEFT-WING AND RIGHT-WING address? That post references a video that points out that the type of government that maximizes liberty is a republic. What are the alternatives? Check out that post.
What issue does this post address? How do we keep our republic?
In this post, I will not address specific issues. That is what I hope you will comment about.
- Do you believe the moral character of the people of the United States is in decline? Why or why not?
- Are we a divided nation? If we are divided, what is causing the division? If we are united, then why do we appear to be divided?
- What are the issues that divide us? How much do they divide us? How can we resolve those issues peacefully?
- Did I address the issues brought up in this comment? What should I have said?
What Is Our Republic?
We tend to view government as benign and helpful, but history and a quick look around the world suggests that is foolish. In fact, the people who worry about gun control would be wiser to worry about government control.
As the Declaration of Independence contends, we need a government to protect our liberties. However, it pays to remember why the founders wrote the declaration. The 13 American Colonies were rebelling against a government that had become tyrannical. Can imagine what the colonists must have thought when King George III sent boatloads of Hessian mercenaries to pacify their ardor for liberty?
As OF TWISTED WORDS => LEFT-WING AND RIGHT-WING points out, liberty is maximized when government has just enough power and no more. In fact, the people who framed The United States Constitution had to work out some very difficult compromises.
- They had to give government officials enough power to do their jobs, but not so much power they would be tempted to abuse it.
- They had to create checks and balances that pitted various elements of government against each other without making government so inefficient it would be tied up in knots.
- They had to give the majority of the people enough power to express their will thorough government, but they still protect the rights of the minority.
Therefore, perhaps the best way to describe the Constitution is to call it a set of carefully constructed compromises work out between the 13 original states. The Articles of Confederation had failed. So the colonies realized they needed a stronger national government to prevent anarchy. So it is we ended up with a Constitution that provides us representative democracy with limited government powers. That is, we ended up with a constitutional republic. Yet it is fairly obvious that our government is now assuming powers clearly not given to it by the Constitution. Why?
Who Is The Principle Foe Of Our Constitutional Republic?
Who is the principle foe of our constitutional republic? We are. Consider.
In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, — if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. — Benjamin Franklin, speech in the Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (September 17, 1787); reported in James Madison, Journal of the Federal Convention, ed. E. H. Scott (1893), p. 742 (from here)
Some years back I wrote a post that considered the difficulty of maintaining a constitutional republic, WHAT IS THE LAW OF THE LAND? — PART 4. That post was part of a series that considered the rule of law. The last post looked at how we might pervert the rule of law, how we might be corrupted. Abraham Lincoln well understood the problem. Yet here I will use a different quote.
The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names—liberty and tyranny. — President Abraham Lincoln, Address at Sanitary Fair, Baltimore, April 18, 1864
What do demagogues seek to do? With clever words, they seek to convince us that evil is good, and good is evil. Demagogues would have us believe what we know is not so, that the law does not matter, that what we want — that what works for us — is all that is important. In fact, the demagogues are merely tempters, opportunists taking advantage of our gullibility. It does little good to try defeat them; we must defeat the desires that they use to tempt us.
How Do We Defeat The Desires That Tempt Us?
When a nation becomes corrupt, what does that mean? What was Franklin talking about? Why was he was concerned about the moral character of the People? When we no longer have the moral character to honor the law and hold our public officials accountable to the law, what purpose does our Constitution serve?
Religion perceives that civil liberty affords a noble exercise to the faculties of man, and that the political world is a field prepared by the Creator for the efforts of the intelligence. Contented with the freedom and the power which it enjoys in its own sphere, and with the place which it occupies, the empire of religion is never more surely established than when it reigns in the hearts of men unsupported by aught beside its native strength. Religion is no less the companion of liberty in all its battles and its triumphs; the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims. The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law and the surest pledge of freedom. (from here)
Without, the safeguard of morality, proper instruction in moral wisdom, we do stupid, evil things. Instead voting for the good of our neighbors and countrymen, we vote for demagogues who promise us other people’s things and privileges we don’t deserve. That is what demagogues call liberty.
What Should We Do?
What should we do? How can we save our republic? In truth there is very little we can do save our republic.
What is worst of all is to advocate Christianity, not because it is true, but because it might prove useful… To justify Christianity because it provides a foundation of morality, instead of showing the necessity of Christian morality from the truth of Christianity, is a very dangerous inversion; and we may reflect that a good deal of the attention of totalitarian states has been devoted with a steadfastness of purpose not always found in democracies, to providing their national life with a foundation of morality — the wrong kind, perhaps, but a good deal more of it. It is not enthusiasm, but dogma, that differentiates a Christian from a pagan society. — T. S. Elliot (from here)
Instead of saving our republic we must first learn to love our neighbors. We must fear for those who are lost and desire to save their souls. And if we are among the lost, if we do not know Jesus, then we must learn about Him. We must read and study the Bible.
Once we have saved ourselves, we can serve our neighbors. That includes proudly participating in the governing of our nation. Yet this is a secondary benefit.
We strive to do the right thing because we are Christians. We do not — cannot — become Christians just to do the right thing. We can only become Christians when we have repented of our sins and learned to trust Jesus Christ.