By David Beilstein
SOMEHOW onerous, otherwise bewildering, the inability for particular religious conservative cadres to understand the importance of secular, liberal government tasked with modest duties frustrates the privacies of the classical liberal mind.
If we allow some expanded thought to enter our realm, we would see quite clearly a government subsidising and imposing numerous cultural persuasions on the populace to be more than disagreeable. And harmful, generally, to an orderly civitas.
Whatever government does, it assumes its resources from the people it governs. Therefore, caution is wisdom. In the minds of the Founding Fathers this was a delicate matter … give the government expansive power over individual, consensual convictions, they thought, and one could lose the legitimacy of a government altogether, or more likely, dismantle slowly, a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
A government at the whim to enforce individual convictions and beliefs — of offences and biases, will be shift into a tyrannical government (soft) to large populations of people. Such reality is why the Founders did not erect a pure democracy, but a democratic republic. The reason, then, was to prevent Americans from voting away their unalienable rights by untoward passion and emotions.
But our times now appear strained — and since the mid-eighties — more and more religious citizens in these United States have been persuaded by what appears a Constantinian model of government. Morality is out of style, one must see, opines our moralists, therefore, government must do something! to fix it.
In consequence, a government that enforces religious norms of morality on the populace, moves from archaic to en vogue amidst the fundamentalist right. This foreign concept of government is as anti-constitutional as leftist diatribes against religious faith, and freedoms of politically incorrect speech. It seems … we, classical liberals, enter a labyrinth of circumstance where too many religious citizens in America, regardless of the fact the United States was founded in opposition to such polity concepts, demand a return of Constantine The Great. Nonetheless, little evidence suggests government creates more morality in culture by what it legislates — or increases the appetite for moral sturdiness amidst populations. Plenty of evidence does suggest, however, the government can isolate and subsidise, consequently, and despite good intentions, plenty of immorality germinates within the citizenry.
Indeed, the moral fibre of America slipped to new depths precisely at the time large swaths of Americans sought a government that would create, enforce, and promote uniform-moralising programs across the fruited plain. The early progressive movement, of the 1920s and beyond, comes to mind.
Further still, paternalism robs the individual of the antibodies needed for an individualistic, thinking life. Paternalism, arising from statist premises, shelters — hiding the individual from the consequence and growth sprouting from personality-inducing freedom of choice. In the libertarian flame of Dr J. Gresham Machen, the revered New Testament Professor at Princeton Seminary, paternalism is to be feared and loathed by Americans — for its deadening effects on the mind and behaviour of liberty loving individuals.
As I wrote in a previous blog, not only is such a progressive understanding of so-called ‘conservatism’ based upon imposing religious norms of morality on the society at large unpopular, hence unelectable, it also weaves the web in which the statist constructs a government able to impose persuasions and ‘values’ religious citizens are most given to offence. And further, it has helped build a government where every special interest group seeks power — and authority, to impose their values on those who do not share them. We face such a crisis now. The conservative movement, going on decades now, sought to inundate the federal government with its religious convictions. It’s mind and manners, too. Fibrous in its cultural warrior armor, the movement erected the edifice upon which the statist has used to intrude upon behaviours, beliefs, consents, it has no business diving into.
If America is too be a free nation, those in elected office must believe in liberty for all peoples … thus, requiring constitutional understanding of an orderly society, and, toleration for consensual convictions, behaviours, one might find wholly incorrect. The concept of ‘having the right to do something, but not being right in doing it’ (G.K. Chesterton) has seemingly slipped the mind of too many on the right, whilst the statist, actively seeks to dismantle such freedoms unless en vogue according to heightened leftist agitprop.
Even more maddening, the chance of a lifetime awaits conservatives. President Obama’s statist overreach and its subsequent effect on free markets and minds, avows ample openings for conservatives to slip and counter, effectively dismantling the statist polemic. However, a good amount of conservative thought has to filter through the odious drivel of so-called conservative aridness, for no other reason but certain of its callused members cannot figure out from which timber its come from.
The fact of the matter is, government now incorporates a moral vision in its purposes … that moral vision, percussively, assaults the religious freedom of Roman Catholics, and chews up resources to use for things confessing Catholics do not agree with. Yet, a very clear alternative could be struck — that is, voters realising the job of the Federal Government is to enforce the U.S. Constitution, plying within its boundaries, unable to weld the font of its power to create a particular moral vision upon individuals free from such soft tyranny.
Finally, the preservation of the U.S. Constitution animates and protects religious convictions for those — by the grace of God, who have them. And it entitles those of such religious pulchritude, that men within or without polity leadership cannot usurp their unalienable rights of freedom of religion. In contrast, a government of moral conviction, of ‘moral duties reaching into the individual life of the people, and removed from its modest duties, can in fact morph and change given the times … and the whimsical priorities of men.
In other words, if religion or freedom of speech becomes a problem for those in power in an ever-changing government, with more and more power over personal conviction and choice, such religion, speech, can be limited — or banned in the worst cases — for the ‘moral’ good of the populace. But a government wrested to the confines established for it by the U.S. Constitution can never remove freedom of religion (or speech) from the people … because the U.S. Constitution is not about preserving what is necessary moral, always, but what people’s unalienable rights afford them.