November 22, 2009
Which America Do Americans Want?By John Morgan
Philosophically speaking, there are two Americas, each with a founding father. The first man, born five hundred years ago last July, was the theologian John Calvin. Should this sound incredible, bear in mind that this has been the contention of more than a few historians in the past.
In his book Christianity and the Constitution, John Eidsmoe lists several reasons to agree with this estimation. First, at the time when America became a country, about two-thirds of the population had a religious affiliation at least partly Calvinistic in doctrine. In fact, it was the persecution of that particular religious inclination that drove many (if not most) of the immigrants across the Atlantic and into the often harsh environs of the New World in the first place.
The reformed doctrine that Calvin systematized was a central force in shaping not only the religious perspective of early America, but also the very structure of its government. For example, the fledgling American government's acceptance of Calvin's teaching that every aspect of man is sinful by nature led the colonial leaders to reject the utopian ideas forwarded by the French philosophers of that time.
It was the French Revolution, not ours, that followed the edicts of the Enlightenment, and with cataclysmic results. America's founders focused instead on creating a balance of power between government and the individual in order to avoid the opposing evils of anarchy and despotism. This they accomplished by decentralizing government -- in a manner resembling the Presbyterian form of church government that Calvin had long before instituted -- and by divesting its power into three separate branches.
Eidsmore goes on to point out that the priesthood of all believers, a protestant doctrine that Calvin expounded on, led to the education of nearly all America's citizens, since all believers are responsible for seeking to know what God says to them in the Bible. This widespread literacy allowed the democratic system to operate, given the relative isolation of towns back then and the lack of mass media beyond the printed word.
In addition, Calvin exhorted believers to work hard while declaring secular occupations to be every bit as holy as those of the pulpit. These teachings together with his view on the limitations of government set the philosophical stage for capitalism. Given all of these factors, one can see just how profound an influence Calvin has had on the social and political formation of the United States of America.
The founder of the other America (which, compared of the first one, might well be considered the anti-America) also had a major anniversary this year, having been born in 1809. Though his discipline was science, the theory of origins that he formulated from his observation of plants and animals has had enormous implications in America's social and political realms as well. I am, of course, referring to Charles Darwin.
In his article entitled "Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence," Bradley C. S. Watson lists six core ideas that social Darwinists in the 20th century came to have with respect to politics in general and constitutional government in particular.
First, there is the denial of fixed or eternal principles that might aid the wise course of any government. Next is the notion that continual growth is the goal of the state, and never-ending change is a means to that end. Third, social Darwinists stress experimentation with government institutions and laws from a utilitarian perspective. Thus, the only valid way to determine good policy from bad is the particular consequences of its implementation.
The fourth core belief, according to Watson, is the history of a government as an "inevitable process" rather than merely a cause-and-effect chain of events. Of course, if it is a process, then despite temporary setbacks, the state on the whole will continue to improve. The fifth idea is that an elite class is needed to supervise the steering of government's great ship through the obstacles of obsolete institutions, laws, and ideas. The final belief is that truth and moral rightness are relative to the particular position in a government's history.
It's not hard to distinguish which of the two philosophies President Obama adheres to. Change was half of his campaign mantra, offered as a virtue in itself. "I am someone who is no doubt progressive," he proudly proclaimed. He is also an elitist, as evident from the fact that he never denounced the messianic laurels that were so lovingly placed at his feet. Moreover, since the election, the president and his ever-expanding court of czars have, through their never-ending quest to takeover private industry, shown no regard for the limitations of power the Constitution has drawn. It is clear that their highest regard is for themselves as America's neo-monarchy.
As for Obama's other partners in crime, the reigning Congress, Barney Frank is a particularly glaring example of elitism. We see it all too clearly in the belligerent manner in which he's answered both protesting citizens and conservative commentators such as O'Reilly. When the banking crisis hit just over a year ago, Frank unabashedly expressed the mentality of those currently running the country with the following statement:
Thus, whatever funds private citizens are able to amass belongs to the federal government, to be gathered and dispensed in whatever way the federal government sees fit. They alone are capable of wisely redirecting such "resources" as they chart America on a new and far more glorious course.
Finally, as for denying objective truth (let alone eternal principles), the only truth the reigning Democrats concern themselves with can be found in fluctuating polls. To them, good and evil are obsolete notions that only intellectual Neanderthals bother about. They may refer to such concepts to pacify the masses, as after the 9/11 attacks; or to slander opponents, as when Pelosi compared Tea Party protesters to Nazis; but they do so without genuine conviction. Their only rudder in directing our nation is an insatiable appetite for control. The multitude of deceptions they have to commit in order to accomplish this end amounts to nothing in their jaded eyes.
Due to our ethnic diversity and the foggy halls of public education that most citizens have trudged through, the picture is less than clear as to which current of thought the American public stands in. This is evident from the fact that while most Americans consider themselves Christian, a majority also say that truth is relative. Yet according to a 2004 CBS poll, most Americans don't believe Darwin's theory. And it seems clear that an even greater majority have come to regard the social Darwinism employed by Obama and his congressional cronies as a bust.
Ironically, the very utilitarianism that progressives hold up as their standard inevitably works against them. They may not be intellectually consistent, but Americans in general are correspondingly pragmatic. As such, they can see that rather than bringing about positive change, the progressive politicians are dismantling our present quality of life and destroying our country's chances for future prosperity. And Americans will vote accordingly in 2010.