“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” C.S. Lewis.
On December 1, 1862, one month before signing the Emancipation Proclamation, President Lincoln described his vision of America as the “last best hope of earth.” That it emphatically remains.
We, the American people, still represent a substantial portion of those who reside in the geographical United States of America. We retain our exceptional history, our cultural heritage, our noble ideals and traditions, and key elements of our civil society, especially our churches and synagogues. Through our everyday choices and decisions, we continue to value and reaffirm the essential doctrines and principles of the American founding, born of intuition, faith, experience, and right reason: a humane society ordered around natural law (including external truths and a transcendent moral order), unalienable rights (including individual liberty, justice, and private property), and the institutions of constitutional republicanism and market capitalism.
I like to refer to us as “America Prime”, with prime meaning ‘of the best possible quality’ or perhaps, more mathematically, a ‘higher derivative.’ We are still America and America is exceptional. Our sacrifices have made the world safer, freer, and fairer. America has saved millions of lives and made millions of lives better. Time and again, we have fulfilled the standard John Winthrop set on the flagship Arbella almost 400 years ago and confirmed that we are that great ‘city upon a hill’ – a beacon of hope for freedom and liberty.
But we have tragically lost something: our government is no longer a constitutional republic and we are no longer governed under a rule of law applied with equality and justice. This immeasurable loss has been driven painfully home by the four-year effort to destroy an American President and his administration – ending ignominiously with the corrupted 2020 election fiasco, the authoritarian suppressions and restrictions resulting from the virus originating in Wuhan, China, and the ever more aggressive cancel culture and censorship campaign.
In Liberty and Tyranny (2010), constitutional scholar Mark Levin presciently wrote:
“So distant is America today from its founding principles that it is difficult to precisely describe the nature of the American government. It is not strictly a constitutional republic, because the Constitution has been and continues to be easily altered by a judicial oligarchy that mostly enforces, if not expands, the Statist’s agenda. It is not strictly a representative republic, because so many edicts are produced by a maze of administrative departments that are unknown to the public and detached from its sentiment. It is not strictly a federal republic, because the states that gave the central government life now live at its behest.”
What form of government, then, do we have? I will leave it to the brave reader to consider elements of the following:
- Authoritarianism refers to a form of government that concentrates power in the hands of an individual or a small group that is not constitutionally responsible to the people. Power is exercised arbitrarily and without regard to existing bodies of law. Government leaders cannot be replaced by citizens choosing freely among competitors in credible elections. The freedom to create opposition political parties to compete for power with the ruling group is either limited or nonexistent. Authoritarianism is founded on the principle of blind submission to authority and opposed to individual freedom of thought and action.
- Kleptocracy refers to a form of government where the ruling party has come to power or retained power through means of corruption and theft. Power rests on a foundation of embezzlement, misappropriation, and the transfer of wealth from public to private interests (which typically overlap the ruling party’s own economic interests).
- Oligarchy refers to a form of government in which a limited group of individuals rule over a nation. Oligarchy is a catch-all category for any number of other forms of governance in which a specific set of qualities — political ideology, wealth, heredity, race — are used to vest power in a limited group of individuals, such as aristocracy, plutocracy (where power is determined as a direct function of wealth), and totalitarianism. Oligarchies are often characterized by tyrannical or authoritarian rule and an absence of democratic practices or individual rights.
- Socialism refers to a form of government that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources. According to the socialist view, everything that people produce is in some sense a social product, and everyone who contributes to the production of a good is entitled to a share in it. Therefore, society as a whole should own or control property for the benefit of all its members.
- Totalitarianism refers to a form of government in which the ruling party recognizes no limitations whatsoever on its power, either in the public life or private rights of its citizens. Power is vested in the hands of an individual or a small group around whom significant propaganda is built as a way of extending and retaining uncontested authority. Totalitarian states employ widespread surveillance, control over mass media, intimidating demonstrations of power, and suppression — usually violent — of protest, activism, or political opposition.
Our government is not yet any of these, but it is sobering to realize that it increasingly manifests elements of all of them.
We, the American people, recognize that we are in the midst of an existential national crisis and must assert a dignified, principled response against the forces and “-isms” eroding Western ideals and undermining Americanism.
Who are we fighting against? The anti-American forces are multi-pronged and plentiful. We know them. They have infiltrated both major political parties, especially the Democrat party. They include the radical leftists and progressives, the socialists and communists, the swamp-like bureaucracy and administrative state, the depraved entertainment and sports subcultures, the failing education system polluted by propaganda and indoctrination, the legacy media and technology gatekeepers, the elitists and globalists, the secularists and relativists, and the violent anarchists and terrorists. Most seek to acquire and preserve power over us. Many seek to put the interests of the state above the individual and restrict individual freedom and decision-making. Some seek to censor free thought and speech and promote crushing conformity and groupthink. Others seek violence, disorder, and discord. All are exceedingly dangerous.
Classical liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, and Americans of every age, race, gender, color, ethnicity, and religion can agree on our fundamental principles and resist these pernicious forces. We must promote and fortify religious liberty, free markets, the rule of law (applied with equality and justice), national sovereignty, an open-minded classical education based on the traditions of Western culture, and a free press that is either impartial or at least honest about its prejudice.
What can we do? On a large scale, Bob Maistros’ “Partition” and “Shadow Administration” proposals published by Issues & Insights (e.g., 11/24/2020 and 12/29/2020) and the pseudonymous “Separation” essay published by the American Mind (11/30/2020) deserve serious consideration. Political action – both directly and indirectly in the form of targeted contributions – remain essential.
Certainly, we must reject the illegitimate Biden-Harris administration. As former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich wrote in his December 21, 2020 article “Why I Will Not Accept Joe Biden as President”:
“Given this environment, I have no interest in legitimizing the father of a son who Chinese Communist Party members boast about buying. Nor do I have any interest in pretending that the current result is legitimate or honorable. It is simply the final stroke of a four-year establishment-media power grab. It has been perpetrated by people who have broken the law, cheated the country of information, and smeared those of us who believe in America over China, history over revisionism, and the liberal ideal of free expression over cancel culture.”
On a personal level, my responsibilities as an American must suffuse my personhood and my day-to-day choices and decision-making:
- To do justice, practice lovingkindness, and walk humbly with God.
- To fight for freedom and against tyranny.
- To seek to restore our constitutional republic and individual rights.
- To speak up for truth, logic, and reason and against corruption, propaganda, and bias.
- To insulate, protect, and defend my family.
- To focus on my relationship with God and my personal and civic responsibilities to others.
- To focus on education, informed action, principled policy, and results.
- To support our active service members, veterans, and first-responders.
- To honor our elders, their wisdom, and the generations that preceded us.
- To seek to minimize the effect of a corrupt government and society (e.g., media influence, political correctness, thought perversions such as social justice and critical race theory) on my family.
- To seek out and favor other Americans in my personal and business dealings.
- To boycott the instrumentalities of the anti-American forces, including deviant educational institutions, warped subcultures, and noxious big-tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter (trust me, you will not miss them).
On October 27, 1964, in his iconic speech A Time for Choosing, President Ronald Reagan put it this way: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
This I know: Generations of my family have sacrificed considerable blood and treasure for our cause – fighting for freedom and against tyranny. We can do no less. Freedom must win. Tyranny must lose. We, the American people, will continue to argue for it, fight for it, and sacrifice for it.