“We are cleaved between those who believe that an Almighty God nursed the Founding – the singular event for human freedom in history – and those who believe that an “almighty government” must be the future.”
Nearly a decade ago, I wrote the core of this article. I’ve since wanted to change it, amend it, and say, in essence, I was wrong. But the truth cannot be set aside to charm wishes. Truth stands aloof and serves the eternal, not the fleeting fancies of mortals.
In 2022 we are surely a nation divided not so much by politics – though we are – but a nation divided at its soul.
And yet, just maybe, a crack in the direction of the Republic is at hand. The Supreme Court last week corrected a fifty-year-old error in Roe vs. Wade, in which it had aggregated power to the federal government found nowhere in the Constitution. It returned that power that rightly belonged to the various states and their citizens to determine for themselves through the representative process.
Overturning Roe has sent shock waves through the radical socialist Democrat Party and left many feckless Republicans mumbling and second-guessing the wisdom of the court’s bold move (including the court’s Chief Justice John Roberts). Yet the monstrous destruction of 70 million babies over the five decades speaks otherwise. It was justice much delayed.
The delay was merely one piece of evidence itself that Americans are cleaved between those who believe that an Almighty God nursed the Founding – the singular event for human freedom in history – and those who argue that an “almighty government” must be the future.
The former recognizes human rights and freedoms to virtuous people in covenant with one another; the latter requires that the individual be succumbed to serve the authority of the state and the new world order.
These two paradigms cannot coexist any more than the contradictions of our first Civil War could coexist.
Standing in quiet on the battlefields of that Civil War – Manassas, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Antietam, and so many others, one can hear the echoes reminding us of the terrible cost of a divided nation.
Over 600,000 Americans died in those dreadful four years; our nation was laid open to war by the imperfect nature of men, even with this most perfect of devised governments – or because of it.
The churning crosscurrents of the young nation perhaps made war inevitable. The bitter moral issue of slavery was unresolved in the Founding and brooded and rotted in the nation’s soul. It was also an economic war, fueled by the nation exploding with the opportunity that freedom made available. In the end, the divisions grew too great. The covenant frayed. The whole could not stand as it had been.
If the Revolutionary War was fought to sever a relationship with a foreign Sovereign and establish Liberty through a limiting Constitution, the Civil War was fought over how we would live together under that Constitution.
Today, America is debating whether constitutional government shall stand at all. Overturning Roe is simply the first victory of many that must follow it to rescue that possibility.
Some argue that it is too simplistic to say we are divided between those who long for Liberty and those who demand collectivism and socialism. Or between those who allow intellectual and moral dissent and those who demand conformity of opinion to the god of government.
And yet, that is what history previews.
We are separated at the core by the very precept of “rights,” what they mean, from whom they come, and how they are secured. Are they natural rights granted to us by God and not open to excision by the government? Or, in the modern world, do those rights fall to the whim of a mob or government? Are we individually sovereign, or is the state sovereign? Do individuals produce the best and most when they first serve their families and themselves, or must government manage every affair to ensure subjective standards of fairness or “equality” that compel one man to support another regardless of merit?
Is the Bill of Rights an anachronism of another era, unsuitable to the progressive, collectivist, internationalist age?
These questions are working themselves out on a hundred different battlefields in this new un-civil war, in varied ways, right now.
The Judeo-Christian ethic, the founding doctrines of moral responsibility and virtue, are driven with a vengeance from the public square and education, with hardly a whimper from the orthodox and faithful.
The civil comity is turned upside down by a ruthless and violent left, for whom there are no moral brakes. Lawbreakers have more rights than the law-abiding, and there is little but general grumbling from the center-right. Every ancient moral taboo is paraded as a good, and every ageless virtue is treated as an aberrant reflection of a bygone era. The resistance has been scattered and futile.
If these are the battlefields of the new civil war, social, economic, and religious conservatives must make Roe count. They must press the case that freedom is a covenant and commitment that accepts responsibility for the whole, starting with each individual, family, church, and community. Society’s strength is from the bottom up, not the top down.
Up to this July 4th, success for the radical progressives looks like this: An America increasingly ruled by edict through an overpowering “permanent” government and a corrupt political class of both parties, impervious to the will of the governed. The rule of law is subverted to what is expedient without any concern for how that might impact the well-being of the whole. Cronyism and favoritism have become far more important than talent and hard work.
During the Civil War, some battles turned the tide of the war when it didn’t seem possible. Today is no different. If conservatives are going to win some major battles that can turn the nation back towards its constitutional roots and moral clarity, then they are going to have to get into the war. Above all else, political, social, and religious conservatives have to learn to fight. When they find themselves on the battlefield, wherever and whatever that will be, they will have to remember that there is only one winner, and it will be the winner that writes the history for the next generation.