If you think that 2016 is some kind of aberration, think again. We have been sold the same election for more than generation and this is no different. For Democrats America must be seen as racist and unfair. For many so-called Republicans, America must be seen as under constant threat from liberal big government, even as they do everything in their power to assist in the growth of government only to whine about it later. Why is it that the political party that claims to work for the people is incapable to of doing anything at all to benefit them? Why is it that the party that stands for limited government is incapable of lifting a finger to restrain the growth of government? The title of Hillary Clinton’s 1969 senior thesis for Wellesley College about the work of Saul Alinsky says it all – There Is Only The Fight. There’s not supposed to be a solution. We’ve seen George W. Bush destroy the free market system in order to save it. We’ve seen his father promise no new taxes only to compromise with House and Senate Democrats a year later to increase taxes. Mike Pence championed religious liberty legislation in Indiana only to back down less than a month later. Hillary Clinton claims to be a champion of women and working families despite the fact that her only accomplishment after eight years in the Senate was a bill that renamed a courthouse for Thurgood MarshalI.
I think it is fair to wonder just what in the hell we are doing…
On November 8th millions will choose between two vindictive, corrupt statists – the champions of identity politics – whose behavior moves far beyond political expediency and poisons the very nature of democracy itself. Pitting one group against another is not leadership, it is betrayal – and we have enabled it. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are incapable, empty vessels that succeed by compelling us to behave as though we belong only to separate, special interest groups. Maybe we do, but seventy percent of the population is unhappy with the direction our nation is headed in, so why not change course completely and take initiative in peaceful attitudes and actions to advance the cause of liberty over any political party. By transferring our anger and resentment to one another instead of transforming it, we’re accepting the premise of both candidates that our contempt of one another can be weaponized, turned against us and used to further their own ambitions.
We have yet to see a leader of whom it can be said that they face opposition without animosity, criticism without enmity, flattery without conceit, and defeat without despair. So at this point I really don’t care who wins the election. Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will neither save nor ruin this country – we will.
The flagrantly corrupt candidates we have nominated are a reflection of our own corrupt understanding of freedom today – that it means simply doing whatever you want to do, whatever feels good, without any moral restraint. But freedom is not an allowance, it is a responsibility and a job. Discharging our own individual responsibilities to our family, community, and country is what will keep us free. But no matter how virtuous our intentions, we cannot storm the citadel of another’s soul, so it is time for those of us who believe in inalienable rights, personal responsibility, family, and freedom in all of it’s forms to begin our own long march through the institutions.
It is easy to see the world through the lens of cultural resentment. After all we are living in an era that offers varieties of historical truth. Are we to believe The People’s History of The United States or The Patriot’s History of The United States? The truth itself has taken on too many forms and has become as nebulous as the concept of social justice. Our founders held certain truths as self-evident. Both the far Right and the Left have taken skepticism to such an extreme that it has left them totally unmoored from any real sense of self-evident truth. Can we begin to see our history and to teach it through the lens of humankind – flawed, ambitious, and good – or continue on through the lens of cultural resentment? Can there be common footing between a secular Millennial art school student living in Boston and a Southern Baptist truck driver when the wars waged by the media and both campaigns serve only to tarnish our regard for one another? We all want to make a difference in the world, but how we do it matters; and since it seems clear that our elected officials have little interest in honestly advancing liberty, it falls to us as individuals, not as warring tribes of a singular and grotesque body politic.
The desire to make the world a better place has been the primary source of suffering that people have inflicted upon one another throughout history. Totalitarian movements are always galvanized by a desire to mandate harmony, to force the world to be made right. Mussolini’s National Fascist Party was founded on Italian nationalism, the growth of which came as a result of the belief that Italy had been cheated in the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. This new National Fascist Party claimed that democracy, liberalism, and socialism had all failed. They’d be cheated, wronged and the systems weren’t working. They had better systems. Sound familiar? Simply being well-intentioned is not enough. A few miles from Rodeo Drive there exists a grid of gang territories controlled by gangs. But even the CRIPs are rooted in good intentions; after all CRIPs stands for Community Restoration in Progress.
For months we’ve listened to two fully grown adults campaigning to become the leader of the free world bewailing about not being treated fairly. I contend that it is us who have not been treated each other fairly. In the words of our parents: Life isn’t fair and it never will be. We face tremendous problems but with what resources will we face them and how diminished will those resources be without faith? Only a great faith can give us the courage to start anew after defeat and disaster – faith in God, in family, in each other.
We can only accept the challenge of our despair and redeem it with hope so long as we don’t allow that hope to be transformed into a destructive passion, a passion that grows until it becomes a boundless need to destroy whatever can be perceived as standing in the way. Albert Camus once described a rebel simply as “someone who says no.” For the past few months I thought that my fellow Conservatives had become the rebels now, exiled by those enchanted by the delusion of utopia. But the more I think about it, the more it occurs to me that it is not just constitutional conservatives, it is all of us – an insurrectionary that is truly diverse.
Restoring confidence in the words and ideas of our officials is important, but what about us? The nominees are loathed by a super-majority of the country because we have confused bad manners with good politics, and when was the last time that changed anyone’s mind? When was the last time that someone changed your mind? No amount of trolling will produce the emotional peace we so desperately seek. Many of us on the Right will listen to Rush Limbaugh while sitting in our recliners grumbling about the country is going straight to hell while those on the Left sip their lattes while watching Rachel Maddow and wondering why everyone in this country is a racist. Indeed, I fear we have become activists for celebrity concerned more about virtue-signaling than virtue itself.
Can we be reasoned and informed enough to be suspicious of a candidate that thinks half of the country isn’t worth talking to? Either candidate. Can opposition be seen not as sabotage? It used to be that radicals were just liberals in a hurry. Today you’d be fine swapping out liberals with Republicans, the AltRight, 3rd Wave Feminists, Social Justice Warriors, Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, anti-gun lobbyists, and 2nd Amendment advocates. Are we no longer peacemakers? If not, what will become of the great measures we have taken, the tremendous length to which we have gone after the votes are tallied and this disgrace of an election is behind us? After all, a million people could assemble on the lawn of the White House and all the occupant of that room would have to do is quietly close the blinds because they know that we are caught in a cycle of appeasement, of doing all the things we are supposed to do. Liberty is ours for the searching, the testing, and the living. Or are we simply seeking favor in the public square?
“I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life – peaceful, useful, prosperous, and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts and in the heart of their descendants generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done. And it’s a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” That was Charles Dickens. It could be us, too.