Our American ship of state is in peril on the sea

“We are wandering on the great ocean of human affairs. We are running we know not whither.”—Patrick Henry, speaking to the Virginia ratifying convention, 1788.

“We are running we know not whither.” A more accurate description of the state of our nation could not have been spoken. No need to worry—now—how we got to this place. The challenge is how to get control of the situation before the fragile ship of state breaks apart completely, sinks silently into the roiling waters, and disappears forever.

The reality is that we are all on a ship called a Constitutional Republic whether we want to be on that ship or not. Were it possible to anchor at a safe port and allow all to disembark who wish to be on another ship with a different system, an easy solution to the peril we are in would have been found.

That, however, is not our reality. The ship stays afloat, or it does not. We all go down with it, or we do not. What is happening is that some on board are toying with the ship’s construction to transform it from a Constitutional Republic to a “resource user” in partnership with other “resource users.” There is no nation-state; there are only tribal groups occupying lands on continents, governed by global rules.

Image: The Ship “Macon” by Nivelet, circa 1828-35 (Public domain); Hymn by William Whiting, 1860.

How is our Ship of State constructed?

The spine of our ship is the keel. The keel is a plate of steel that runs along the bottom of the ship for its entire length. For us, it is our unique Rule of Law. Our law provides strength and thickness to the steel of our keel. Our Rule of Law consists of four categories of law, all of which must be obeyed:

1. Moral Law—what is morally right and what is morally wrong. What is right and what is wrong in America’s moral law is different from any other nation, though there are generalized international principles of decency. The Bible anchors it for us, with additional admonitions for personal virtue from Aristotle, Francis Hutcheson, and other philosophers.

2. Positive Law—written manifestations of moral law enforced by government authority. Positive law includes state Constitutions, the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights, ordinances, statutes, administrative rules, and judicial decisions, including those of England, that go back hundreds of years, known as the “common law.”

3. Natural Law—the source of our unalienable rights from God to Liberty and individual development.

4. Unwritten Law—the laws of good fellowship and compromise; the interpersonal glue in our daily lives.

As important as the keel is, the side shell plating of the ship of state welds it together and creates a watertight skin. This horizontal plating—at its strongest a strake—is a diverse population that agrees voluntarily, through values taught, to respect and honor the Rule of Law. One has the liberty to personally develop, but within these rules.

Still, our ship would not be safe without the strength to it added by the girders of our private sector innovators, scientists, and scholars, and the stiffeners of our farmers, ranchers, and practical engineers.

It is all there. Our Republic needs but a sturdy and devout Captain at the bow as steward of the ship knowing underneath him or her are the stringers of our military and especially our navy and Coast Guard.

And yet, “We are running we know not whither.” A thousand small cuts a day weaken the watertight shell. Whole well-financed groups loosen the bolts. Wealthy individuals create mutinies. Those entrusted to serve instead betray. Those who worry the ship will go down are shamed and diminished into silence.

America is in peril on the sea. Those bullied by day might arise by night to tighten the bolts, weld the seams, or take a turn on watch, but this will not save the ship.

What will?

A more efficient and effective ballast. The ballast in our Ship of State is Power. Power controls the propeller’s position in the water and the stability of the whole ship. That Power must be returned to the states and to the People. This is the essence of Federalism and Federalism is what makes America exceptional.

1. Each state should begin to loosen its reliance on federal monies. The beast cannot continue to be fed.

2. Each state should begin to encourage alternatives to government schools.

3. Each American should practice gratefulness for our nation and for the whole Rule of Law.

Eternal Father, strong to save

Hear us when we cry to Thee. . .

We are in peril on the sea.

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