Monday, March 22, 2010

Providence- is it God or government?

Between now and the midterm elections in November, the battle for the constitutional liberty of the American people will be decided. From day one, Obama's behavior and that of his factional cohorts, has confirmed that the "change" they intend to impose on the United States is a change of regime- from a constitutional government that recognizes and respects the sovereignty of the people to an elite party dictatorship that imposes its will regardless of their consent.

Though some are still blind enough to believe that Obama is the cause and focus of this battle, others are finally waking up to the reality that Obama is simply an historical figurehead. He embodies the spirit of elite domination that transcends contemporary lines of party and ideological division. As that astute observer of history Alexis de Tocqueville realized, the United States of America emerged as part of a general movement in which the people as a whole challenged the rule by domineering elites that had been the invariable pattern for government throughout human history. Tocqueville thought that the special circumstances of the Americans, with respect to geography and politics (in the broadest sense), as well as moral and intellectual character, made their assertion of self-government the most promising salient of this democratic movement, which is to say the most likely to produce a stable result, reasonably consistent with justice and basic human decency. Something of the outward luster of human ambition would be lost, but the general material and spiritual contentment of humanity would be well served.

It's fair to say that until the present day the results far exceeded Tocqueville's expectations. Keep in mind that Tocqueville was no cheerleader for democracy. He understood its inherent dangers, including especially tendencies that combined the dissolution of natural social institutions (like the family) with a taste for the concentration of political power. This portended a gradual elimination of intermediary human agencies, which would leave isolated individuals helplessly subject to the irresistible power of one pervasive and controlling tyrannical power. Tocqueville saw hope for democracy in America precisely because the religious character, and the social and political habits of its people, worked to mitigate democracy's decline toward tyranny.

By and large, the people who most profoundly shaped and influenced the establishment of the United States government appreciated the dangers of democracy just as Tocqueville did after them. Given that fact, and what should have been the effect of their own elite self-interest, it seems a miracle of Biblical proportions that a substantial proportion of the most influential American elite at the time sincerely understood and embraced the promise of greater justice involved in the democratic political principle. They accepted the premise that just government had to consult the will of the whole people when making judgments that affected their common good. But because they reflected, and meant to respect, the social and political habits of Americans (what they called the 'genius' of the American people) the founders of America's constitutional republic consciously crafted political institutions that embraced democracy in principle, but in which the implementation of republican and federal principles served to mitigate its most dangerous effects.

Tocqueville thought it likely that among Americans the republican form of government would outlast the government of the United States. He argued that the moral effects of slavery would divide the character of the people, leading, perhaps inevitably, to conflict and separation between the slave states and the free. As it turned out, he has so far been proven wrong in both respects. Tocqueville understood that the religious, moral character of the American people was crucial to their ability to understand and preserve the political institutions that implemented their sovereignty. But because he did not foresee the moral developments that preserved the Union through civil war, he could not foresee the intellectual developments that would provide the basis for an elitist movement first to subvert and then to overturn the historic movement toward government based on the consent of the people. Where liberty was concerned, the "genius" of the American people combined an understanding of justice derived from the authority of the Creator, God (natural right); with an understanding of human nature that makes human liberty a function of the equality by God's will of all human beings (natural rights). This recognizes and relies upon God as the source of the basic provisions for justice in human affairs. It is in this sense that the authors and signers of the Declaration of Independence especially relied upon God's Providence for protection as they embarked upon what they knew would be a difficult struggle to sustain it.

This appeal to Providence had to do with God's moral and spiritual provisions, the ones that guide conscience and sustain moral confidence amidst the dangers of battle and imminent death. It has little to do with provisions for material comfort, or even the necessities of life. The signers of the Declaration expected death and wounds in battle. They expected the loss and destruction of material possessions. Most of them were not disappointed. What they expected and got from God was the moral assurance that their actions were justified; and the courage born of knowing that, as subjects of God, human beings enjoy an objective worth and dignity that cannot be measure or destroyed by any material thing. This is the courage that with no false bravado taunts "O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?"

Such courage, and the successful assertion of self-government it makes possible, was especially the historical fruit of maturing Christian faith. Without the prideful ethos connected with aristocratic heritage; without the violent hatred and resentment that fire the uprisings of desperately brutalized and downtrodden masses; people at large could find the courage deliberately to undertake the dangerous work of resisting injustice, whether on their own behalf or for others. When the America revolution occurred Americans were materially pretty well off, not economically desperate. They acted with deliberate courage, and in light of passions stirred and moderated by a sense of justice. This led to the establishment of national democratic republican institutions that avoided the hate-filled excesses of the French revolution and could even survive the excruciating anguish of the Civil War and its aftermath.

Yet ironically, the ostensible triumph of freedom over moral and economic slavery in the nineteenth century may have set the course on which moral, economic and political slavery (totalitarian centralism) stand poised to triumph over America's republican form of government in the twenty-first. This tragic irony is all too aptly confirmed by the personal background of the man now set up to be the focus and figurehead of the relentless, elitist effort to overturn the constitutional sovereignty of the American people. Though in skin color he superficially resembles the people freed from slavery by America's bloody civil conflict, both his claimed African tribal heritage and his lifelong commitment to Marxist-Leninist ideology place him among the elitist enslavers of humanity.

Obama's indoctrination in Marxist-Leninism also identifies him with an understanding of human history that conflicts with any reliance on God's providence as the basis for understanding human justice. Yet as Lincoln articulated it, the common sense of the American people understood the Civil War to be a consequence of God's provision for human justice. Thanks to the moral confidence that resulted from that understanding, the Union survived the division caused by slavery. But the triumph of the North was also the triumph of the Northern industrial base. It marked the emergence of a society that would come more and more to reflect the mores of urban life. Over time those mores have become increasingly materialistic, increasingly centered on human arts and sciences, technology, and engineering (the works of human hands). Such mores began to produce people with little interest in or tolerance for an understanding of God's providence that defines human equality in terms of human rights (i.e., the human obligation to do right) rather than human needs and material desires. Though the words of the American Declaration of Independence still stir their feelings, such people are increasingly indifferent to the invocation of God's authority without which the words lose any claim to stand upon objective truth.

The fact that most American's still profess to believe in God and even in His Creation should offer some hope that America's allegiance to its founding creed can be restored. That ought to be the aim that fuels the deliberate purpose of those who must rally now to drive from office the elite subversives bent on replacing liberty for all with the renewal of elite tyranny. But who is there now to call them to that firm and true reliance upon God's providence that is the key to a sustained effort, that will not ebb and flow with every turn of events, or every deceitful maneuver aimed at mollifying their rightful indignation? If only there were true Republicans, truly committed to preserving the real meaning of the term. If only there were true Democrats, who really cared to preserve the government of, by and for the people- instead of arrogant elitists who subvert and overturn "the liberties of republics…paying obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues and ending tyrants." And if there are such true partisans of American freedom, if only, despite all our prideful rejection of Him, God will bring us to those places of the heart where we will rally to His cause and so restore our own.


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