The country is coming apart, and the advocates of radical egalitarianism are winning.
The wars between Trump, the media, the deep state, and the progressive party — replete with charges and counter-charges of scandal, collusion, and corruption — are merely symptoms of a much larger fundamental and growing divide between Americans that is reaching a dangerous climax. On four prior occasions in American history the country nearly split apart, as seemingly irreconcilable cultural, economic, political, social, geographical, and demographic fault lines opened a path to hatred and violence. During the Jacksonian Revolution of the 1830s, factions nearly ripped the country apart over whether the East Coast Founders’ establishment of a half-century would relinquish its monopoly of political power to reflect the new demographic realties of an expanding frontier — and its populist champions often deemed unfit for self-governance. For the most part, the Jacksonians won. Three decades later the nation divided over slavery, prompting the most lethal war in American history to end it and force the defeated Confederate southern states back into the Union. UP NEXT Sen. John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer 00:39 00:53 The Great Depression, and the establishment’s inept responses to it, left a quarter of the country unemployed for nearly a decade — hungry and desperate to expand government even if it entailed curtailing liberty in a way never envisioned by the Founders. The result was eventually the redefinition of freedom as the right of the individual to have his daily needs guaranteed by the state. In the 1960s, the hippie movement — fueled by furor over the Vietnam War, civil-rights protests, and environmental activism — turned holistic in a fashion rarely seen before. A quarter of the country went “hip,” grooming, dressing, talking, and acting in a way that reflected their disdain for the silent majority of “straight” or “irrelevant” traditional America. The hipsters lost the battle (most eventually cut their hair and outgrew their paisley tops to join the rat race) but won the war — as the universities, media, foundations, Hollywood, arts, and entertainment now echo the values of 1969 rather than those that preceded it. Now we are engaged in yet a fifth revolutionary divide, similar to, but often unlike, prior upheavals. The consequences of globalization, the growth of the deep state, changing demographics, open borders, the rise of a geographic apartheid between blue and red states, and the institutionalization of a permanent coastal political and culture elite — and the reaction to all that — are tearing apart the country. Despite its 21st-century veneer, the nature of the divide is often over ancient questions of politics and society. The Deep State Technological advances, the entrance of a billion Chinese into the global work force, and the huge growth in the administrative entitlement state have redefined material want. The poor today have access to appurtenances undreamed of just five decades ago by the upper middle classes: one or two dependable cars, big-screen televisions, designer sneakers and jeans, and an array of appliances from air conditioning to microwave ovens. The rub is not that a Kia has no stereo system but that it does not have the same model that’s in the rich man’s Lexus. Inequality does not mean starvation: Obesity is now a national epidemic among the nation’s poor; one in four Californians admitted for any reason to a hospital is found to suffer from diabetes or similar high-blood-sugar maladies due largely to an unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices. In political terms, the conflict hinges on whether the powers of entrenched government will be used to ensure a rough equality of result — at the expense of personal liberty and free will. The old argument that a wealthy entrepreneurial class, if left free of burdensome and unnecessary government restrictions to create wealth, will enrich all Americans, is now largely discredited. Or rather it is stranger than that. The hyper wealthy — a Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, or Warren Buffett — by brilliant marketing and opportunistic politics are mostly immune from government audit, and from robber-baron and antitrust backlash. Instead, redistributive ire is aimed at the upper middle class, which lacks the influence and romance of the extremely wealthy and is shrinking because of higher taxes, ever-increasing regulations, and globalized trade. On the global stage, the near-religious idea of egalitarianism has all but won the war against liberty. We are all creatures of the Animal Farm barnyard now. It does not matter that the ossified European social model does not work and leads to collective decline in the standard of living. The world knows that from seeing the implosion of Venezuela and Cuba, or the gradual decline of the EU and the wreckage of its Mediterranean members, or the plight of blue states such as Illinois and California. Instead, it is the near-religious idea of egalitarianism that counts; on the global stage, it has all but won the war against liberty. We are all creatures of the Animal Farm barnyard now. Indeed, if today’s student actually read Orwell’s short allegorical novel (perhaps unlikely because it was written by a white male heterosexual), he would miss the message and instead probably approve of the various machinations of the zealot pig Napoleon to do whatever he deemed necessary to end the old regime, even if it meant re-creating it under a new correct veneer. The conservative effort to roll back the entitlement, bureaucratic, and redistributionist state has so far mostly failed. That today, coming off sequestration, we are on target to run up a $700 billion annual deficit, on top of a $20 trillion national debt, goes largely unnoticed. Eighteen trillion dollars in national debt later, Ronald Reagan’s idea of cutting taxes to “starve the beast’ of federal spending has been superseded by “gorge the beast” to ensure that taxes rise on the upper classes. To the degree that there is a residual war over entitlements, it is not over cutting back such unsustainable programs, but instead about modestly pruning the level of annual increases. The government necessary to ensure such continued state borrowing and spending is now nearly autonomous and transcends politics — and is eager to use its formidable powers against any who threaten it. Identity Politics On a second front, there is a veritable civil war over race, ethnicity, gender, and identity. Massive immigration, the rise of opportunistic identity politics, and a new tribalism have replaced the old melting pot of assimilation, integration, and intermarriage with salad-bowl separatism. The only obstacle to the tribal state is that there may soon be too many victims with too many claims on too few oppressors. There are too many incentives — from political spoils and university admissions, to government employment and popular cultural acceptance — to identify with one’s tribe rather than simply as an American. The problems with such tribal fissuring are threefold. One, the rhetorical disdain for traditional majority culture and values operates in a landscape in which the critic adopts the tropes and lifestyles of all that he demonizes. From what traditions do the Claremont or Berkeley students believe their rights of protest derive? Where do they get their expectations of clean campus water or capital to drop out of the economy for four years of college? Was the technology behind the iPhone a result of a patriarchal, nativist, male culture — and does that therefore make the device tainted and unsuitable for use? Second, if red-state, traditional America is constantly assaulted with various charges of –isms and —ologies, why would any foreigner wish to enter the United States, or upon entering live in such wretched places as red-state Arizona, Texas, Florida, or Utah? Is schizophrenia thus required: Concretely use and enjoy the legacies of a demonized culture while abstractly damning them? Third, when tribalism supersedes the individual, then all criteria of merit, character, and ethics recede into identity: Race, gender, and ethnicity replace merit and we begin to have black NASA engineers, white nuclear-plant operators, or brown jet pilots rather than missiles, power, and flights that are overseen and operated by the most skilled among us. When a society operates on a tribal basis — we see it often in Africa and the Middle East — everything from tap water to IVs are a luxury. In short, will America remain a multiracial nation united in one culture in which superficial physical appearance becomes largely irrelevant (and indeed one’s racial DNA pedigree soon becomes almost undefinable), or will it go the tribal route that ultimately leads to something like the Balkans, Rwanda, Iraq — or Evergreen State, Ferguson, and Middlebury? Finally, there is a growing rejection of the founding principles of the United States, its traditional Christian-based values, and the old idea of American exceptionalism. Federalism and the idea of a republic, after all, do not necessarily lead to radical egalitarianism or a society of absolute equals. Yet the modern progressive mind is wedded to two principles: that 51 percent of the population at any given moment should have the final say in governance only if it reflects correct progressive principles; and if the population is “fooled” and votes incorrectly, then an elite in government, the courts, and the media will intervene to set in place what hoi polloi should have done to properly advance the correct agendas. In practical terms, will universities still teach the inductive method and fact-based knowledge, or deductive social activism? Will our past be seen as noble and at times tragic, or melodramatically as exploitive? And will progressives abide by occasional political setbacks in elections, the courts, and popular referenda, or seek to subvert those institutions as unacceptable impediments to their radically egalitarian agendas? So who is winning this fifth American conflict, and why? Progressivism. It has an insidious appeal to human nature, offering contexts and arguments for dependency — which is defined as the consequence of some sort of prior unethical exploitation (rather than chance, bad luck, or personal pathology, perhaps in addition to exploitation) and therefore deserving of proper recompense. Progressivism promises a transcendence over nature’s limitations through superior education, proper training, and correct reasoning, as if poverty, illness, and inequality were not innate to human nature but results of selfishness and ignorance and so rather easily remedied. It confuses technological progress with a credo that human nature itself evolves in predictably progressive ways, thereby supposedly making obsolete institutions and protocols (from the Constitution itself to ancient ideas such as deterrence) that were once time-honored. The combination of market capitalism and personal freedom can enervate a population, misleading people into thinking that their bounty is unending and natural, and giving them the latitude for cynicism, skepticism, and nihilism about the sources of their privilege. Virtue-signaling among elites who are critical of the very protocols that led to their own success serves as a psychological mechanism to alleviate guilt about privilege. And when an elite deprecates its own culture, the ripple effects widen upon reaching the masses. The combination of market capitalism and personal freedom can enervate a population, misleading people into thinking that their bounty is unending and natural, and giving them the latitude for cynicism, skepticism, and nihilism about the sources of their privilege. In the West, a narcissism follows that oddly manifests itself in thinking that human sins are almost exclusively Westerners’ own. These age-old observations often led to depressions among Western philosophers who grasped the Western paradox that the success of market capitalism and constitutional government might undermine the ancient virtues essential to their continuance. In this latest arena of civil dissent, Donald Trump, the renegade liberal and most unlikely traditionalist, squares off against the elite that despises his very being not only for reasons of class and culture, but mostly for attempting to restore a traditional regime of citizenship, individualism, assimilation, territorial sovereignty, recognized borders, strong defense, deterrence abroad, and free-market capitalism. In sum, behind the daily hysterias over collusions, recusals, obstructions, and nullifications, there is an ongoing, often vicious war over the very nature and future of Western culture in general and America in particular.
“The fundamental question of our time:
“Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”
–President Donald Trump
July 6, 2017
GO-TO SOURCES ON FREEDOM AND AMERICAN VALUES
Victor Davis Hanson, Historian)
Mr. Hanson is one of my favorite current authors. He speaks with experience and authority. He doesn’t demonize people, but presents the rational, level-headed case for whatever he writes.
Dennis Prager: Still the Best Hope, Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph, Harper Collins Publishers, 2012
One of the best books I have ever read that presents the case for traditional American Values, and why they are so important to preserve our freedom. He respectfully and clearly lays out the threats that are insidiously destroying our freedoms.
Dennis Prager is also the President of Prager University, a conservative institution that teaches American Values in the context of current American social life and politics.
Michael Medved; The American Miracle, Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic; Crown Forum Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2016
Mr. Medved shows that at every step of the way, Divine Providence has been evidenced in the development and survival of the USA.
Michael Medved, The 10 Big Lies about America, combating destructive distortions about our Nation, Three Rivers Press, 2008.
Another excellent enlightenment combating some of the current distortions about America and American values and policy.
Roger L. Simon, I Know Best, How Moral Narcissism is Destroying Our Republic, if it Hasn’t Already, Encounter Books, 2016.
“In America, we all think we know everything, and my opinion must be the right one”. Mr. Simon explains how this attitude is destroying us.
George Gilder, Knowledge and Power, the Information Theory of Capitalism and how it is Revolutionizing our World, Regnery Publishing Inc, 2013
A stunning, intellectual defense of Capitalism, and how it preserves our freedom.
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
The classic exposition of American Democracy and the dangers it faces. As pertinent now as it was when written in 1835.
F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
A classic exposition of why socialism and central planning are doomed to fail.
Ezra Taft Benson, This Nation Shall Endure, Deseret Book Company, 1977.
Ezra Taft Benson, Stand Up for Liberty, Teachings on Liberty, Compiled by Brian R. Mecham, Ezra Taft Benson Society, 2012
Maxims of Washington, The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, 1942
A Plea for the Triumph of Principles
How does a concerned citizen effect positive change in our world?
In the current political discourse, we are inundated by passionate arguments and obfuscations, promoted by “talking heads” and “experts” of every persuasion, trying to gather our support for a particular viewpoint. In this morass of opinion and argument, many become confused and overwhelmed. The dizzying talking points of each side seem to complicate and confuse, rather than to clarify.
In the midst of this cacophony of conflicting opinion and argument, is it any wonder that many just want to give up and tune it out? We have better things to do than to argue and sift through all the “crap.” Besides, none of us are as skillful as the talking heads on TV in defending a position. Perhaps we make a faint effort to gather facts and make our decision based on a factual analysis. But, we soon learn that there are “facts” that support each side. We will never be able to compete with the professionals.
There seems to be no clear standard upon which to base our opinion.
So, we may become discouraged and cynical. Perhaps we find the easiest course is to simply comfort ourselves with taking an opinion that matches our natural inclination. What is easy for me to believe? What do I want to believe? Surely, we can find facts that will support what we want to believe, and that is the work of every politician: to give the people a reason to believe what they want them to believe. We can even “cherry pick” the facts that we want to hear. We then find ourselves choosing the narrative that matches what we want to believe, and there is plenty of evidence to confirm what we are looking for. Eventually, we find ourselves actually believing just what we want to believe.
As we come to believe what we want to believe, as opposed to what is true, we lose sight of what is real, and we lose our integrity. This is a recipe for division and polarization, and each side moves farther and farther from the other. First we disagree. Then we demonize. Then we hate. At some point, we lose the ability to even discuss. Then, will we turn to violence? This is surely the path that will destroy us as a people and as a Nation.
Is there a better way to see the truth and what is right for our country? Is there a more sure standard? Is there a solution for the confusion and conflict that is driving us apart? Can we as mature adults find enough common ground to advance liberty and freedom and the special American values that so many have given their lives for?
I believe there is. And it may easier than you think. Perhaps it lies in identifying simple, core principles that we can trust and all agree on. In the complicated world of discovering what works, we often rely on arguments of expediency rather than of principle. Principles trump expediency. A firm reliance on sound, time-tested principles will guide us through the muddied waters of expediency and land us on the shore of certainty.
Throughout history this has been shown to be true. Even the “best and brightest” minds often get it wrong. When left to the apparent expedient option, limited human vision has been woefully inadequate. Unexpected turns of fortune, combined with unforeseen consequences, and the notorious limitations of shortsighted human wisdom, often combine to discredit the most careful analysis of any particular problem.
It takes faith to rely on principle rather than expediency, but if our determination of policy relies on sound, time-tested principles, we can be assured of positive results and that can lead us to a unity of purpose.
In the current controversy engulfing our nation regarding the recent election, here are several suggested principles that will help us to find clarity and unity:
- Our prosperity and success as a people and as a Nation is dependent upon our belief in God and our willingness to obey His commandments. This is fundamental. We may safely conclude that any idea, philosophy, policy, or act that leads away from this core principle is detrimental to our health and prosperity.
- Our Constitution is an inspired document and a strict adherence to it will protect us from so many evils. There is a powerful movement in the land that attempts to subvert and change the Constitution in the false interest of modernity and expediency.
- “By their fruits ye shall know them.” A man (or elected official) should be judged not only by what he says, but, perhaps more importantly, by what he does. A man’s actions speak far louder than his words.
- Eschew violence. Forceful imposition of one’s will upon another is justified only in special circumstances that are according to the laws of the land and consistent with our Constitution. Unlawful violence is never the answer. We must rely on rational dialogue to convince each other of wise policy, rather than forcing our will upon others. When one party tries to game the system to achieve power and force their agenda, the other party is aggrieved, is resentful, and this tends eventually to lead to polarization and even, perhaps, violence. A recent political candidate stated, “we cannot change people’s minds—we must change the system.” This is exactly backward. If we are to effect lasting change, we must change peoples’ hearts and minds. “A man convinced against his will is of the same mind still.”
- Man has agency given to act for himself. Measures to manipulate, coerce, or force in the interest of a greater good vitiate liberty and one’s freedom to act. It seems that as a society, we have almost forgotten how to encourage good behavior by teaching virtue, and instead have resorted to coercion at every level to make people do the right thing. This practice teaches us to not think for ourselves and is making us slaves. Man’s agency also implies accountability for his actions, and this must be taught as well.
- Nothing good is free and we cannot expect the high road to be the easy road. A man must diligently search for the truth, and pay the price to become informed and wise. As we are disinterested bystanders, whether from discouragement, cynicism, or laziness, we risk losing our liberty to the forces of ignorance and discord. Can we expect to enjoy the blessings of liberty that others have sacrificed their lives for if we are not willing to make our own sacrifice to become virtuous, informed and involved citizens?
The measure of a man’s patriotism is the extent to which he will choose to find and believe the truth and then act upon it in the interest of his country. This is dependent upon his integrity and virtue. To the extent he is not honest with himself, he is vulnerable to deception.
These are correct principles. They are tried and true. One may depend upon them in all circumstances.
In any particular situation or controversy, use them to measure the truth or viability of any proposition or philosophy. As you watch the news and the actors on the world stage, think about these principles, set them as a standard to help you find the truth.
WHAT IF WE CAN’T AGREE ON THESE BASIC PRINCIPLES?
Then use more basic principles, such as:
1. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Love and respect for others is the most powerful tool we have to influence each other for good, and to achieve common agreement and purpose. When we demonize others, we lose the ability to influence them. Those that seek to tear down others with destructive criticism and hateful speech you may be sure are not part of the answer. It is one thing to constructively criticize or disagree. This leads to rational thought and collaboration. Indeed, as we respectfully listen and engage with those with differing viewpoints, we may be able to achieve mutual understanding and agreement. Compromise is enabled, and unity of purpose becomes possible.
2. Iniquity and wickedness must not be tolerated, but must be called out and defeated. This need not be done in anger or hate, but with firmness and steadiness in defending what is right. A great example of this is how Abraham Lincoln dealt with the slavery issue.
3. Teach your children, family, and friends correct principles, and use your influence for good in your own social circles as much as you can.
4. Virtue triumphs. As we practice honesty and integrity in all aspects of our lives, our example will be above reproach, and we can operate from a position of moral authority. It won’t make us superior or better than others, but will place us in a credible position to effect positive change.
“From day to day, the capital facts of human life are hidden from our eyes. Suddenly the mist rolls up, and reveals them, and we think how much good time is gone, that might have been saved, had any hint of these things been shown…
“When we break the laws, we lose our hold on the central reality…
“In this kingdom of illusions we grope eagerly for stays and foundations. There is none but a strict and faithful dealing at home, and a severe barring out of all duplicity or illusion there. Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth. I look upon the simple and childish virtues of veracity and honesty as the root of all that is sublime in character. Speak as you think, be what you are, pay your debts of all kinds. I prefer to be owned as sound and solvent, and my word as good as my bond, and to be what cannot be skipped, or dissipated, or undermined, to all the éclat of the universe. This reality is the foundation of friendship, religion, poetry, and art…”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essay on “Illusions”
I am proud to announce the publication of this book by Dorrance Publishers. It is now available at http://dorrance.stores.yahoo.net/badger.html. It is also available at http://www.amazon.com.
The book was written to honor my son, SEAL Mark T. Carter, SOC, USN. Mark was a member of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
It is my hope that readers will appreciate and understand more fully the American Values which Mark represented and died for, and more fully incorporate them into their own lives.