The Fourth of July is my favorite non-religious holiday. It is in early summer, the weather is usually nice, and the holiday involves pools, golf, barbeques, parties, fireworks, and bursts of patriotic fervor. It is a time when we Americans celebrate the founding of our country.
When I decided to write a blog post about the Fourth this year, I felt like including some platitudes about how despite our differences, all Americans whether conservative, libertarian, liberal, progressive, or apolitical all love our country and want the best for it. It should be a time of shared joy in the success of our country and a time of unity in celebrating it.
But I think I’m wrong about that. See, I don’t believe that everybody that lives in America loves America. In fact, I believe many people who live here hate America. As Barry Rubin describes in his book Silent Revolution: How the Left Rose to Political Power and Cultural Dominance, many of our fellow citizens – the progressives of the Third Left – may actually hate America for past and present faults, real or imagined, and are in fact working very diligently to impose their vision of America on the rest of us. Somehow I don’t think their vision is the same as mine.
In the summer of 1776, the United States wasn’t even a country. We did not have air conditioning, electric power, cars, planes, gay rights struggles, abortion battles, NSA spying, or any of the modern conveniences and afflictions we know today.
Instead, we had a handful of courageous men (and the women who supported them) sweating over how to agree on what it would take to get the Continental Congress to vote on independence. The members of the Congress were not career politicians. Some were lawyers, true, but many were farmers, businessmen, clergy and even brewers. They were united in their desire to separate from England due to the tyranny of the English Crown, and revolutionary in their approach to doing so.
These men were not cowards, in fact, by virtue of the fact that they were revolutionaries, they were quite brave. They weren’t asking for permission, they stated quite clearly the reasons under natural law why they thought that the thirteen colonies should separate from the mother country. They weren’t religious fanatics, but many were God-fearing men and practicing Christians. Others were believers in a “divine Providence”, similar to people today who are “spiritual but not religious”. They had their faults – failing to abolish slavery chief among them – but unlike today they were able to achieve a compromise consensus that held for eighty five years.
The early settlers of our country were hacking a life out of the wilderness, bearing their children and burying their dead along the way. They weren’t fighting over whether or not employers and the government should be funding birth control pills or about the weather or energy production. They weren’t sitting around waiting for a government program to lift them out of the mud, they were building houses from mud and planting farms in the mud. They weren’t whining that their company didn’t provide free health insurance, there was no such thing as health insurance. They just wanted to be free: free to live their lives, practice their particular brands of religion, and enjoy the natural rights endowed upon them by their creator.
On December 15 of this year, the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution was ratified and passed into the foundational law of this country. The most enduring constitution in the history of mankind had just been invented, amended and adopted. Sadly, the original structure it created only really lasted 12 years until the Supreme Court arrogated final arbiter power to itself in Marbury v. Madison. Despite this setback, and through a bloody civil war, the document and the system of law it created has lasted until the present time.
Unfortunately, as Mark Levin describes in his book The Liberty Amendments, starting with the populist, or first “progressive” movement in the United States, the size and scope of the minimal federal government bequeathed to us by the founders has grown, at first incrementally and lately by exponential amounts into a leviathan that is far beyond the size and scope of powers delegated to it by the Constitution. In fact, as Levin writes:
“What was to be a relatively innocuous federal government, operating from a defined enumeration of specific grants of power, has become an ever-present and unaccountable force. It is the nation’s largest creditor, debtor, lender, employer, consumer, contractor, grantor, property owner, tenant, insurer, health-care provider, and pension guarantor. Moreover, with aggrandized police powers, what it does not control directly it bans or mandates by regulation…Indeed, the question is not what the federal government regulates, but what it does not.”
July 4, 2014
In our current time, as described by Barry Rubin and other observers, the leftist movement in this country that started with the philosophical children of Marx, Engels and Lenin has evolved into the current Third Left movement. Third Left cadre have taken over our institutions of higher learning (it is newsworthy when a survey finds that a whopping 9% of University of Colorado faculty are conservative), our public schools (which despite ever increasing budgets yield ever poorer academic results to the point where we have to award “participation trophies”), our news media (who went from reporters of news to shapers of opinion and inventors of “truth”), and our entertainment industry (instead of blacklisting Communists, today they blacklist conservatives).
Thanks to the progressive movement, we have a national health care law in this country that was supposed to correct perceived problems in the existing health care system (many of them inflated by the left, nonexistent, or created by government in the first place) and imposed an extremely complex law which apparently many who voted for it didn’t bother to read. The Affordable Care Act is over 2,000 pages long, highly complex, and rife with perverse incentives, disincentives, mandates and unintended consequences. It was passed by one political party – the Democrats – who had temporary control of the federal government without one single vote of support from the opposition party. Not one. Worse, the ACA has failed to solve any of the problems it was supposed to fix and has made many problems worse.
Whether it is due to incompetence, ignorance, arrogance, naivete, or deliberate desire to disregard America’s interests abroad, the Obama administration has been a complete and utter failure at foreign policy. From a resurgent al Qaeda to expansionist Russia to the Benghazi tragedy, we are losing friends and emboldening our enemies. President Bush left a democratic Iraq, and five years later Iraq is in shambles and on the verge of a religious civil war and disintegration. President Obama’s failure to credibly manage the Arab Spring, chemical attacks in Syria and other threats has further destabilized the Middle East, and his growing abandonment of Israel makes our only friend in the region less secure.
The President who despite being a constitutional “senior lecturer” seems to believe that he can “rule” by executive order and does not need to work with Congress. He routinely complains about the opposition party (who represent the 50% of the country that did not vote for him) and blames them for obstructing his agenda.
From almost the beginning of the nation’s existence, the Supreme Court has made itself the Supreme Arbiter of the law in the land. In the end, governance comes down to what a handful of judges, appointed for life, happen to think about any particular issue of law. There is no recourse, no way to remove them from office, or check on their power. It is time for a constitutional amendment to remedy this.
Congress is the least favorite branch of government, yet is a mirror of the country at large. America is divided as it has not been since the prelude to the Civil War in the mid-1800s. The difference today is not over slavery but over the proper size, scope and function of government in our individual lives and our society. Of course, one could make the argument that having to work for almost half the year to support the ever-growing behemoth that is the federal government IS a form of slavery. The dysfunction in Congress is merely the logical result of the dysfunction of the country as a whole.
The Dangers America Faces
There are some existential threats to this country that we must acknowledge and determine how to deal with. Some are internal, others external.
The biggest internal threat is from the Third Left, that outgrowth from the 1960s and 1970s radical leftist fringe who adapted their student radicalism into institutional oppression quite successfully and have taken control of America’s mind (the academy and the school), heart (attacking the Christian religion and downplaying the role of faith in people’s lives), entertainment (Hollywood churns out movies promoting the leftist agenda and violence), and very soul.
The biggest external threats to our country arise from terrorist Islam and a surging China, along with Russian mischief and North Korean troublemaking. While the “War on Terror” seems to have taken a backseat to a war on the mythical “War on Women”, Al Qaeda and other Islamic terror groups remain a very real threat, and their aims are to convert the world to Islam by fire and sword and the extermination of Israel. With the largest population in the world, and with a fast growing economy, China is becoming more of a world power with every passing year. They do not have a democratic form of government, however, which means the only effective check on any territorial or other ambitions the leadership may have is the waning presence of the United States as the sole superpower.
Thanks to the power vacuum emanating from Washington, D.C. under the Obama administration, Russian president Vladimir Putin is flexing his muscles and pursuing his goal of restoring lost Soviet glory. Earlier this year he annexed the Crimean peninsula, and his troublemaking continues in Ukraine. Finally, the childish tyrant in North Korea continues to develop nuclear capabilities while feeding his unruly relatives to the dogs.
The fact remains that the world will not become any less dangerous because of progressive wishing it would and history has shown that when America withdraws into its isolationist shell, bad things happen. One cannot “Coexist” with people who want to kill you.
The undeclared civil war raging in America today is for the vision of what America means and where we are going from here. The progressive left has a vision, the social conservatives have another, we libertarians have a third, and I suspect the vast majority of people that don’t follow politics just want to be left alone to live their lives in peace.
The progressive vision, from what I can tell, is one that goes something like this: America is governed by a strong executive, perhaps a dictator, who knows what’s best for everybody from her exalted vision of the “common good”. This executive has a compliant or nonexistent legislature, a vast bureaucracy filled with unelected officials, a compliant not-so-Supreme Court, and a private police force.
The First Amendment is history, because dissent is ruthlessly suppressed in the name of political correctness. The Second Amendment is history because gun control has been enacted and all private citizens’ guns have been confiscated, some by force. Because these two bulwarks of freedom are gone, the rest of the Bill of Rights is nonexistent as well.
If you are in the “accepted” group – whether that is black lesbian females or Asian transgender or the child of an illegal immigrant or a white homosexual male, all is well. You are the recipient of special rights and benefits, and any injury or insult to your person is considered a hate crime and prosecuted with vigor. If you are a middle-aged white church attending person, forget it. You have no rights.
The economy is in shambles and people can’t find work because of stifling regulations and crushing tax burdens. There is a thriving black market economy so that people can evade high tax burdens and pay inflated prices for basic necessities. The rich – those that stay in America instead of fleeing or offshoring their money – pay ever higher taxes and there is less capital available for investment in the economy. The super-rich will always find a way to stay that way and may even become richer. They certainly have done well in the Obama years.
The rest of us will be shivering in our hovels in winter and suffocating in the summer, due to sharply curtailed energy availability because of the progressive desire to ban energy production and limit energy use. Climate change fanatics would have us revert to a pre-industrial society when life was hard, brutish, and short.
The leftist’s irrational fear for women’s rights may well turn to reality – as in preindustrial days when women were property and had no rights, or as in modern day Islam where women are treated abominably. Women have never had it better than they do in secular modern day Western Civilization. Progressives, if their goals are followed to their logical conclusions, would turn back the clock. (Yet they claim to be “for women”!)
The social conservatives want an America where abortion is illegal or sharply curtailed, and LGBT people are back in the closet. We wouldn’t hear men talking about their husbands or women referring to their wives. The social conservatives are as illiberal in their own way as the progressives are, they just have differing visions. This may have been the America of my grandparents, but what they don’t realize is that the clock cannot be turned back. I believe that prohibiting abortion is a form of violence against women. I believe that if two people love each other and want to spend their lives together, the state has no compelling interest in preventing that regardless of their gender.
My greatest fear for the next several months is that the Republican Party will win an historic election this November and then, instead of focusing on the important issues like reining in the last two years of the Obama imperial presidency, getting the federal government under control, and doing something about the deficit and national debt; that they start screwing around with trying to limit abortion or roll back the gains LGBT people have been making.
The last vision, the one I subscribe to, hope for, and work to bring about with every word I write, is one that looks like this:
America has enacted the constitutional amendments called for in Mark Levin’s book The Liberty Amendments. The federal bureaucracy has been tamed, trimmed and downsized. The economy is growing like crazy thanks to sensible deregulation and more available capital due to a common sense tax code, responsible fiscal management and balanced federal budgets. With a coherent foreign policy and a strong military, threats from outside our country are minimized to the extent they can be, and our border is secured. People who want to live here can do so, but they have to follow the law.
Freedom of religion coexists happily with freedom from religion. Our government is religion-neutral and people of religion are accorded the same respect for their beliefs as atheists are for theirs. Gay people are able to go into a county clerk’s office or the church of their choosing and get married the same as heterosexual couples can. Women are able to obtain safe and legal abortions when they decide that is the best thing for them.
Young people are able to find jobs and start families like their grandparents did instead of having to live off their parents through their twenties.
Best of all, the failed political philosophy known as progressivism has been roundly and soundly repudiated and consigned to the dustbin of history, as its cousins communism and socialism were before. America has awoken to the threat and re-embraced freedom and liberty, and embarked on a new era of growth and prosperity.
Let’s all work together to promote this vision and make it so. Happy Birthday, America!
By Richard D. Turnquist
July 4, 2014