[As background for this article, it would be helpful to read these previous posts: Palin’s Choice: An Afterword, The saving grace of the republican imperative, Guaranteeing republican government-a little dialogue, Is Palin’s lead a pitfall for the pro-life cause?, Sarah Palin-Personally pro-life, but…?, and Kentucky’s Bill Johnson-a thoroughbred conservative for the U.S. Senate.]
I was with Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Bill Johnson when the news came that Sarah Palin had endorsed one of Bill’s opponents, Rand Paul, in the race for the Republican nomination. We were in the Student Center cafeteria taking time out for a little refreshment after speaking to a group of pro-life students at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. After he received the report by cell phone Bill filled me in on the details, which were later confirmed by new reports such as this one found on WHAS11.com.
“US Senate candidate Rand Paul tells WHAS11’s Joe Arnold that Sarah Palin is endorsing his campaign. “It’s huge,” Paul said, adding that he has never spoken to the former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican Vice-presidential nominee. In her endorsement statement Palin says “I’m proud to support great grassroots candidates like Dr. Paul. While there are issues we disagree on, he and I are both in agreement that it’s time to shake up the status quo in Washington and stand up for common sense ideas.”
If Palin hasn’t bothered to talk to Rand Paul, I wonder how serious this supposed endorsement can be. If it’s intended as a serious step, it puts Palin in a poor light. The 2010 elections are a life and death watershed for the future of American liberty. The Kentucky US Senate seat has been in the hands of a conservative stalwart, retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R). As was the case in NY’s 23rd District, there’s a strong, genuinely conservative constituency in the State of Kentucky. It represents the chance to send a conservative to the US Senate who embraces the moral ideas on which the Constitution is based and consistently applies those ideas to the issues and challenges that are vital to the survival of the republican form of government we have in the United States (as required by Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution.)
I endorse Bill Johnson, and have been doing all I can to contribute to the rising tide of conservative grassroots support for him, because he is the only candidate for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky who stands with true conservative conviction on all those vital issues.
Given the undeniably critical importance of the 2010 elections, I can’t imagine endorsing a candidate, sight unseen, in an election that represents such an important opportunity to do what’s best for the country. Hard experience has taught us that political pronouncements, commercials and websites offer no assurance that people will follow through on the positions they espouse to get elected. (Scott Brown’s haste to hoist the Jolly Roger of his pro-choice position on abortion is just the most recent illustration of that sad reality.) Shakespeare rightly observed that “There is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.” But there is still no substitute for the effort personally to assess a candidate’s commitment to represent what’s on the heart of the people, especially now that so many are roused to defend America’s future against the gloomy specter of totalitarian socialism.
What Sarah Palin has apparently done with this endorsement reminds me of the Washington politicians from both parties who are willing to vote for bills without reading them, even though they claim to disagree with some of the provisions they contain. The claim to disagree on certain provision is often just a ploy intended to shield the calculating politicians against the electoral consequences of their uninformed votes. Whatever they say about “shaking things up”, people who imitate the careless practices of such Washington politicians are hardly likely to put an end to them.
In this case, though, the disclaimer also serves to distract from an issue on which Palin and Rand Paul agree. When dealing with the vital issue of respect for the unalienable right to life, both of them have consistently used formulations that contradict the heart of the pro-life position. To get pro-life votes they loudly proclaim their opposition to Roe v. Wade. Individual mothers should not be the ones who decide whether the child’s innocent life should be destroyed. Government should decide, but at the state level. This contradicts the simple truth on which the pro-life cause depends: the unalienable right to life, like all unalienable rights, comes from a decision by God. It cannot be taken away by any human decision- not the mother’s decision, the Supreme Court’s decision or the decision of any State legislature.
According to the principles of the US Constitution, people institute government (at any level) in order to secure the unalienable rights given to each person by the Creator, God. It is therefore not legitimate (lawful) for government at any level to use its delegated powers to destroy the security of those rights. The term “limited government” refers in the first instance to this just limit on the use of government power. It makes no sense for politicians to proclaim themselves to be staunch advocates of limited government, but then espouse a position that rejects the premise of limited government when it comes to perhaps the most vital and dangerous power of government, the power to decide who should be put to death. Yet this is exactly what Palin, Rand Paul and other “pro-choice for states” politicians are doing.
Contrary to Palin’s statement of support for Paul, it isn’t enough to send people to Washington who will shake things up. Obama is “shaking things up.” Like Obama’s cry for change, this is a phrase that begs the most important question. Will the result of the shake-up restore liberty or continue its destruction? Will it restore the moral premises of limited, constitutional government or cast them aside? Will it bring government at all levels back under the control of the sovereign people of the United States, or continue the overthrow of their sovereignty?
Advocates of states’ rights need to remember that state governments have no rights that are not derived from the God-endowed individuals in whom all unalienable rights originally reside. Those rights reflect the obligations that arise from the determinations of God (His laws) that make human existence possible. The key to the pro-life position is the understanding that individuals cannot disregard the law of God that authorizes a right without destroying their claim to it. Since government derives its right to act (just power) from the delegation of such individuals, the state can have no right to act that supersedes the individual obligation from which the right arises. Therefore, if individual mothers cannot have the right to decide to murder their innocent children, state legislatures cannot have it either.
Palin’s endorsement of Rand Paul confirms that, though personally pro-life she is pro-choice on respect for the unalienable right to life as a matter of constitutional law and public policy. By promoting the demonstrably false notion that state governments can legitimately decide to permit the murder of innocent life, politicians like Rand Paul, Sarah Palin and John McCain also reject the idea that no government can legitimately depart from respect for God-ordain justice (right), which represents the limit in principle on government power at every level. Since this is the basis in principle for the concept of constitutionally limited government, such politicians are not constitutionalists either.
I believe that many of the people around the country who are rising up against the Obama faction are doing so because they want to see constitutional government and the sovereignty of the American people preserved. They know that it will do no good to shake things up, if when the smoke clears all we get is another brand of self-serving elites quietly intent on tearing America down. I think people have joined the grassroots uprising because they want to see respect for the unalienable rights of individuals restored and reflected in all the policies of the government. I think they know that the unalienable right to liberty is utterly subverted once government achieves totalitarian control of our economic life. Therefore, they want to see government abuse of our national resources ended, with primary control of those resources taken from the government and returned to the people themselves.
But we will never achieve these critical positive results by backing politicians who careless or maliciously discard the self-evident truths that unite and justify our efforts to achieve them. Even though elite sophisticates may shrink from saying so, positive results require a positive commitment to “truth, justice and the American way.” Bill Johnson is no superman. He’s just a regular guy who isn’t ashamed to stand by that commitment. But the extraordinary potential of the faith, common sense, and decency of just such regular folks is what built America’s greatness. We must elect as our representatives people willing to display those qualities. That’s how we’ll save the constitutional liberty that ought to be more precious to us than greatness. Another election round of “lesser evils”; ignorant or unprincipled compromisers; and timidly silent equivocators won’t get that job done. Americans won’t get good choices until we dare to put our trust in God and make them.