Some people are pointing out the striking similarity between the arrogant disregard for the common good involved in the scandal now engulfing Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, and the similarly arrogant disdain apparent in the deceit, treachery and callous indifference to consequences, that mark the scandals surging back and forth in Obama’s maladministration (the Obamacare lies; the Benghazi deception; the unprincipled, purposeful indifference with which soldiers’ lives were risked and wasted in the war in Afghanistan; the malevolent contempt for life and rights involved in Operation Fast and Furious; the politically vindictive abuse of the IRS, etc.)
My readers will recognize in this similarity more evidence of the common parentage that conjoins the two-Party twins (Democrat and Republican) in a congenital bond. Both parties reflect the elitist faction’s disdain for any standard of action except what serves the convenience and consolidation of its power. Beyond this factional interest, there is no common good- no national creed to be respected; no common sense of right to be applied; no respect for principles of fair play and decency; no understanding that in America, politics exists to serve people who are united in the determination to do right, as God gives them to see the right.
In pursuit of political advantage people in both Parties deploy rhetoric puffed up with concern for justice, rights and freedom. But when push comes to shove, both Parties embrace the anti-American maxim that “politics can’t achieve moral ends.” Yet America is founded on the understanding that government exists to secure God endowed unalienable rights. How can we secure rights if in our work as citizens (which is the literal meaning of politics) we are unable to secure moral ends, i.e., ends that are predicated on recognizing and respecting the distinction between right and wrong?
Say if you like that the aim of politics is to assure political freedom. But is the security of freedom synonymous with securing unalienable rights? Liberty is listed among the unalienable rights mentioned in the crucial language of the Declaration of Independence. But does this assertion of right apply to freedom simply?
People who are better armed or superior in strength may, without let or hindrance, kill others who are weaker or not so well armed. They have the power to do so. But when well-armed terrorists gun down defenseless children at play in a schoolyard, who dares to suggest that they have the right to do so? The atrocity inspires a special kind of revulsion, so obvious that we rarely bother with the reasoning that justifies it.
For example, the murder of innocent children strikes us as revolting. It egregiously violates the standard of right that condemns the violent destruction of defenseless beings. In light of that standard, good conscience gives rise to the revulsion we feel when innocent people are slaughtered. The plea of self-preservation may mitigate its effect, but even then conscience demands that, when circumstances permit, due deliberation must be given to making sure that no more fully moral alternative, has been overlooked.
Much as the needle of a compass points toward the magnetic pole the word ‘right’ naturally directs us toward a standard that distinguishes right from wrong. So when spoken of as an unalienable right, liberty isn’t simply freedom. It’s the species of freedom that appears when freedom is rightly employed (i.e., in accordance with the standard of right.) Thus understood, every liberty is an exercise of freedom, but not every exercise of freedom deserves the name of liberty.
Just because we have the power to do something, that doesn’t mean we have the right to do it. Superior power may tempts us with the opportunity for successful action. But power does not, by itself, justify every act. On account of our feelings, both these pronouncements command immediate assent from people with an inkling of decent conscience. But harsh human experience suggests that such visceral nods are not proof against other feelings, inspired by a sense of real or imagined injury. Such are vengefulness; and/or envious resentment on account of the blows, insults or good fortune of others.
Even when reason does not such destructive passions, skillful reasoners can almost always be found to do so, with a specious appearance of good reasoning. (I long ago concluded, for example, that this is ultimately what explains the popularity of Karl Marx’s Spirit rejecting, (and therefore transparently tautological) exposition of the historical dialectic. The dogmatic enforcement of ‘evolution’ as a scientific theory more indirectly relies on a similar appeal to unreasoning, intensely anti-Spiritual passion. However, the evolution cult exploits resentful human pride more than envy.)
In order to refute these sophists, other skillful reasoners must come to the aid of common sensibility. Otherwise the combination of specious reasoning and destructive passion can easily prevail.
These days, totalitarian leftists and self-styled libertarians are in the forefront of those who war against the understanding of right that distinguishes liberty from simple freedom. That’s because both idolize power. One clothes that idol in the trappings of ‘history’. By the other, it is clad in the more scanty and seductive fig leaf of ‘individual freedom.’ The one side sings hymns to justice. The other chatters ceaselessly of rights. Both reject the notion that any standard of right intrinsically constrains the actions of those with superior power.
These power cultists appear to quarrel with, and war against each other. Like the outwardly ill-suited lovers Poirot finds out in Agatha Christie’s Halloween mystery, they make a show of enmity in order to hide their cooperation in murder. In the case of the elitist power cultists, the death of God subsumes their common cause.
Rejecting God’s superintendent authority, they poison the concepts of justice and rights at their root. For the standard of right has no permanence; no stability; no shelter from the storm of irreflective passions, until and unless it is anchored in the harbor of God’s will. Without that anchorage, justice and rights are labels on a prescription of indeterminate potency. They contain nothing but shifty, fleeting expectations of defeat or victory.
Where no reliable standard of right and justice preoccupies the throne of sovereignty, both are ruled by arbitrary determinations of power. Might makes right. Anything goes, so longs as enough power secures you against adverse consequences.
There is an understanding of politics based entirely upon this preoccupation with power. It’s usually identified by the name of its most infamous tutor, Machiavelli. Obama, Chris Christie and indeed the whole crew of politicians subservient to the elitist faction are skillful (and at the moment, preeminent) practitioners of this brand of politics.
Some people claim that this Machiavellianism has something to do with America’s founding and history. These same people reject the notion that America was founded on Christian principles, even though the overwhelming preponderance of the historical evidence proves that it was.
Be that as it may, as we consider the oppressive implications of the gangster mentality now in evidence in both wings of the elitist faction’s party system, Americans need to ponder the differences between life now and life as it was before the elitist faction’s Machiavellian agenda took over our political culture.
In that former time, justice was not always done , but it was acknowledged to be the aim of government. (Justice, not simply freedom or even political freedom; and certainly not power.)
People sometime had reason to fear, but gangster politicians did not routinely contrive to manufacture and manipulate damaging crises in order to inspire and maintain a climate of fear.
People sometime experienced great and prolonged injustice. But the fight to establish justice by peaceful legal and political means was not systematically targeted by unconstitutional national laws and policies, as it is being targeted today.
Most importantly, the demands of conscience, and the claim of right inherent in actions that respect God’s standard of right, were not routinely ridiculed, derided, discarded and penalized by every branch of government at every level, as they increasingly are today.
Where fear thus rules, and conscience is denied, can a people hope to live in happiness? Or is the very pursuit of happiness ruthlessly cut off? I believe that until Christ comes again, human beings will not know perfect liberty, perfect right or perfect happiness. But at least the understanding of government that acknowledged the claims of God-endowed right, and respected the authority from which they arise; at least that understanding gave hope and encouragement to people who shared in it. It defined government as the instrument of their good will. It contested the arrogant presumption of prideful human power.
On that account, in their pursuit of happiness regular folks could do their best- in their homes and families; in their neighborhoods; in their nation- to establish way-stations of justice and respect for right, where people could enjoy, in the blessings of decent liberty, a foretaste of more perfect blessings to come.
Today the arrogant elitist faction—abusing the tools with which the success of our scientific understanding has armed the human imagination—inflates the possibilities of human power, in order to consolidate their own. Proclaiming progress, they drag mankind back toward the dark ages of unbridled elitist despotism.
Let us pray that, in His mercy, God will help us wisely to construe the growing evidence of their regressive agenda; so that we can come to our senses in time to relight the candle of God-respecting liberty in the United States. And let us pray as well that He chooses to do so before the encroaching darkness snuffs out the taper in a large and permanent enough majority of Americans to seal the fate of liberty for good and all.