Twenty-five years ago I embarked on a personal mission to change the faces sitting in the seats of government. At the time, I had been awakening to the lessons of history and didn't like the direction our country was headed. Like many others, I believed that slugging it out in the political arena was the only way to right the listing ship.
I was wrong.
That's not to say that political war isn't one part of the solution. But now I see that this was only half of the solution, and that the other half is probably even more important. So, the best I could have hoped for was to buy time. But, time for what?
I now see that, like Vietnam, we had lost the war before it started and -- surprisingly -- for the same reason we lost in Vietnam: we had lost the culture. When that occurs, you're finished before you begin. Almost nobody now remembers why we went to Vietnam in the first place. I do. Here we were, 12,000 miles away, supposedly battling the evil of communism -- and all the while its ideals were infesting our society and undermining our way of life here at home.
That's exactly what's going on in the political arena. While we were doing battle against an ever-encroaching tyrannical socialism through political warfare, the masses were being educated by a leftist media, in collusion with a self-serving socialistic education establishment paid for with our tax dollars.
Now, 25 years later, I look back and see what our founders knew from the start: You cannot defeat ideas on a battlefield. You defeat them inside your own culture through ongoing education. Only in this way can you make your culture impervious to invasion. Too many of us never learned about our history until way too late in the game. Unfortunately for us, and the country at large, we relegated the "education" of upcoming generations to the very minds who stand against the American way of life.
So, throughout most of the past 25 years, it never dawned on me that the Vietnam thing was happening all over again. We were winning a few battles, but losing the war. Today, our foes control every major institution in America -- starting with public education -- not to mention a large part of the churches and both political parties. Right under our noses our adversaries have stolen two generations of Americans by undermining children's education on their way to capturing the flag. They've done a great job of it, since most of America and the churches never hear the good news about the great foundational principles responsible for the great nation we once were.
If we would pay attention, we could learn a lot from our adversaries. They've certainly taught me, and now I see that political warfare and education go hand-in-hand. Political warfare fought single-handedly doesn't work. You cannot make godly laws for an ungodly people -- a people who no longer have a common purpose, or history, or umbrella societal code. They will either reject such laws by repeal, or ignore them altogether -- exactly what we are witnessing today in our liberal courts.
Who would have guessed 25 years ago that today we would see legalized homosexual marriage, open marijuana usage, government approved and funded murder of innocent children, and euthanasia? What's most amazing is that these changes in law in many states are being enacted not by the legislatures, but by the people themselves through the initiative process. So, that's a lesson; if you don't have the people with you, you have lost the war before you start.
Again, simple observation reveals so much. Take Iraq or Afghanistan for example: just like Vietnam, wars of independence cannot be won without an accompanying cultural education. In other words, how can you fight for people's liberty, yours or someone else's, or get them to want to, if they have no comprehension of what liberty is in the first place?
Here at home, who would have believed that a government once erected to protect the inalienable right to life and liberty would become its greatest enemy? This would not surprise our founders who had seen it throughout history and feared a civil government that reached outside its proper jurisdiction -- exactly what propelled them into war with King George. A Constitution or rule of law to an ignorant and waffling -minded people has no value.
So, what now?
The biggest threats we face are here at home, not in some foreign land. It isn't about nukes in suitcases, suicide bombers, or other fanatics. All of that is mostly a sideshow, an endless line of boogeymen created to scare you into bigger government. So, also, is global warming and all of the other environmental and ideological attacks ravaging our economy and depleting our property rights. If you've lost the culture, you've already lost the war against terror anyway.
The real war is about people with empty heads and contaminated hearts. Like the Sons of Issachar, we need to understand the times we live in, to know what we should do. We need to take a breath and remember that there is nothing happening that surprises God, nor anything new under the sun.
Second, if we're going to retake the culture, our religious institutions must lead the charge. Our churches must find themselves again. They, and we, need to renew our understanding of just what the real job of the church, what real evangelizing truly is. The Word of God translates into real everyday world living for every generation, or it isn't worth much. That is to say that the Good News of redemption, salvation, forgiveness and -- doing unto others -- was the foundation of the America now lost. It is these principles that are the foundation of all our laws and culture and, therefore, the reason for our past success and prosperity. The more we've wandered away, the more we've ventured into no man's land. Gone are the days when great principles reigned above lawlessness in the land.
Finally, this ...
The principles of our Judeo-Christian heritage are the only road to civil liberty, freedom and prosperity. There is no other path. Without them, liberty cannot possibly be manifested into a civil society. Benjamin Franklin once remarked, "Whosoever shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world." We did that once as a country and it worked. If the mission of America that began with the Pilgrims was another waypoint on the road to establishing His kingdom on earth, then hope still remains. I never figured it would stop where it has. His kingdom will come about; His will, will be done. Our only choice is whether or not we choose to be a part of it.
I personally believe, now, that without some providential intervention, we can never get the great ship righted. That's why I believe God will do exactly that. Maybe not by judgment in the traditional way we think, but by natural consequences that occur when you defy His principles over time.
When I look back over the past 25 years, it pains me and I feel tired, even that I have failed. The America we grew up in is long gone and we need to stop using the terminology that says we're "going to save it." The fact is we lost it when we lost the culture, which began decades ago. Politically, we've lost nearly every major battle, and now the war. But we've only truly lost, if we don't learn from it.
Perhaps, this past 100 years is but a step back, before the two steps forward. I hope so, because our children and their children, who for the most part are not paying much attention, are coming upon a rude awakening just over the horizon. I want to help them if I can. They are the ones who will have to rebuild from the rubble. Thank God for redemption.
Doug Simpson is a 25-year veteran legislative campaign and public affairs consultant based in Washington State. He is the author of "Looking For America," a very personal look at the roots of political ideology and world views. He is a four-year Marine Corps and Vietnam combat veteran.