The first ideologue

George W. Bush stands accused of being a unilateralist, oreven worse, an 'ideologue,' by the dominant Neville Chamberlain wing of the Democratic Party  This is a milder, less inflammatory charge than the 'fascist' or 'theocrat' labels applied by the radicals and Hollywood elites, but it is intended to sting. America, the implied message goes, is no place for an ideologue. I beg to differ.

Earlier in our nation's history, being an ideologue was a mark of distinction, worthy of high praise instead of high dudgeon. Belief in transcendent truths and high purpose was what made America different — and better than the nations of what we did not yet call 'old Europe,' but raher the "old world."

President Bush, the ideologue, enjoys the company of other Presidential ideologues such as Ronald Reagan, Woodrow Wilson, James Monroe, and Thomas Jefferson. But in the beginning, there was John Winthrop, founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, their spiritual ancestor.
 
Ronald Reagan, inspired by Winthrop's city on a hill metaphor from his lay sermon 'A Model of Christian Charity,' expounded a clear notion of the business of America:

'To this day, America is still the abiding alternative to tyranny. This is our purpose in the world —— nothing more and nothing less.'

An elegant, single—minded, stubborn theme. A simple, sweeping, enduring vision. No room here for the more pedestrian worries of this life —— prescription drugs, health care costs, social security nor even environmental protection.  These latter anxieties, compelling to be sure, are no match for what John Winthrop stated as his sole purpose for the Massachusetts Bay Colony —— to fashion a government and society shaped by the consent of the governed, pleasing in the eyes of God, to be emulated the world over.

From the deck of the barque Arbella in May of 1630, more than five hundred miles off the coast, the covenant doctrine was penned while beating to a freshening western Atlantic gale. When the seas subsided, it was delivered to the American shore.  It survives to this day as an enduring ideal, albeit not fully intact, reshaped by the uncontrollable social forces in the limitless New World. Eventually it was overwritten and extended by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

As Gordon Wood, American history professor at Brown University, says, the unique American ideology —— of liberty, freedom of thought, assembly, speech and worship, of political power used to protect private property and of economic self determination —— transcends the remarkable ethnic and racial diversity in America. This American ideology is the gravitational pull holding our society together, while offering hope for millions of oppressed people around the globe. Despite our failings and unfinished promises, we are still the most envied civilization, unique in all the world, for all time.
 
Many argue that Winthrop had no intention of founding a revolutionary, laissez faire independent state. What he really had in mind was to perfect a theocratic utopia, the template of which was to be returned to England and Europe. Indeed the radical wing of the English Reformation plunged England into a civil war only a few years after Winthrop penned his doctrine. Yet the faint scent of an inevitable ideology, while not exactly what John Winthrop intended,  perhaps mingling with the smell of virgin pine,  accompanied him as he first rowed from the Arbella to the site of Salem, Massachusetts, in June of 1630. He did not row back, but died while Governor of Massachusetts in 1649, having been re—elected on four separate occasions.

The late Perry Miller, Harvard literature professor and peerless authority on the '17th Century New England Mind' makes the point about providence and priority in the emerging American identity throughout his seminal essay 'Errand Into the Wilderness' 

'He (Governor Winthrop) has his own hardships —— clearing rocky pastures, hauling in the cod during a storm, fighting Indians in a swamp —— but what are these compared with the magnificence of leading an exodus of saints to found a city on a hill, for the eyes of all to behold?'

Prescription drug plans, health care cost policies, social security, environmental protection and campaign finance reform do not define a nation.  Ideology that inspires people everywhere to realize the ideal of liberty, that provides a model of democracy and vindicates moral principle, under God, defines our nation. It was true in 1630; it is still true today.

Only one candidate for President understands this.

George W. Bush stands accused of being a unilateralist, oreven worse, an 'ideologue,' by the dominant Neville Chamberlain wing of the Democratic Party  This is a milder, less inflammatory charge than the 'fascist' or 'theocrat' labels applied by the radicals and Hollywood elites, but it is intended to sting. America, the implied message goes, is no place for an ideologue. I beg to differ.

Earlier in our nation's history, being an ideologue was a mark of distinction, worthy of high praise instead of high dudgeon. Belief in transcendent truths and high purpose was what made America different — and better than the nations of what we did not yet call 'old Europe,' but raher the "old world."

President Bush, the ideologue, enjoys the company of other Presidential ideologues such as Ronald Reagan, Woodrow Wilson, James Monroe, and Thomas Jefferson. But in the beginning, there was John Winthrop, founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, their spiritual ancestor.
 
Ronald Reagan, inspired by Winthrop's city on a hill metaphor from his lay sermon 'A Model of Christian Charity,' expounded a clear notion of the business of America:

'To this day, America is still the abiding alternative to tyranny. This is our purpose in the world —— nothing more and nothing less.'

An elegant, single—minded, stubborn theme. A simple, sweeping, enduring vision. No room here for the more pedestrian worries of this life —— prescription drugs, health care costs, social security nor even environmental protection.  These latter anxieties, compelling to be sure, are no match for what John Winthrop stated as his sole purpose for the Massachusetts Bay Colony —— to fashion a government and society shaped by the consent of the governed, pleasing in the eyes of God, to be emulated the world over.

From the deck of the barque Arbella in May of 1630, more than five hundred miles off the coast, the covenant doctrine was penned while beating to a freshening western Atlantic gale. When the seas subsided, it was delivered to the American shore.  It survives to this day as an enduring ideal, albeit not fully intact, reshaped by the uncontrollable social forces in the limitless New World. Eventually it was overwritten and extended by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

As Gordon Wood, American history professor at Brown University, says, the unique American ideology —— of liberty, freedom of thought, assembly, speech and worship, of political power used to protect private property and of economic self determination —— transcends the remarkable ethnic and racial diversity in America. This American ideology is the gravitational pull holding our society together, while offering hope for millions of oppressed people around the globe. Despite our failings and unfinished promises, we are still the most envied civilization, unique in all the world, for all time.
 
Many argue that Winthrop had no intention of founding a revolutionary, laissez faire independent state. What he really had in mind was to perfect a theocratic utopia, the template of which was to be returned to England and Europe. Indeed the radical wing of the English Reformation plunged England into a civil war only a few years after Winthrop penned his doctrine. Yet the faint scent of an inevitable ideology, while not exactly what John Winthrop intended,  perhaps mingling with the smell of virgin pine,  accompanied him as he first rowed from the Arbella to the site of Salem, Massachusetts, in June of 1630. He did not row back, but died while Governor of Massachusetts in 1649, having been re—elected on four separate occasions.

The late Perry Miller, Harvard literature professor and peerless authority on the '17th Century New England Mind' makes the point about providence and priority in the emerging American identity throughout his seminal essay 'Errand Into the Wilderness' 

'He (Governor Winthrop) has his own hardships —— clearing rocky pastures, hauling in the cod during a storm, fighting Indians in a swamp —— but what are these compared with the magnificence of leading an exodus of saints to found a city on a hill, for the eyes of all to behold?'

Prescription drug plans, health care cost policies, social security, environmental protection and campaign finance reform do not define a nation.  Ideology that inspires people everywhere to realize the ideal of liberty, that provides a model of democracy and vindicates moral principle, under God, defines our nation. It was true in 1630; it is still true today.

Only one candidate for President understands this.