What the Health of the Body Politic Needs Now

By | 2018-07-12T00:17:59+00:00 July 12th, 2018|
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Our body politic operates much like our own bodies, alternating between different levels of awareness and activity as it experiences and responds to stimuli. The parasympathetic nervous system, for example, helps the body to “rest and digest”—to function in specific ways while relaxed and calm. It is the state conducive to healing, growth, change. The sympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, is the body’s go-to source of energy and focus in “fight or flight” situations that increases the body’s ability to respond in times of stress—whether it’s taking an exam, tending to a sick child, or responding to a threat to your life.

It may be tempting to think that living in perpetual parasympathetic conditions is the key to true happiness. Alas, no. Happiness—or more to the point, the pursuit of that often elusive state—requires stress and pain. For the body (and soul) to thrive, it requires a healthy back and forth between these two systems. And when there’s a disturbance to that balance, the body can get stuck in one state and start to break down.

Similarly, the health of a nation depends upon the nature of the stimuli and how its people respond individually and collectively. Life on this side of heaven will always be strained, but the age in which we live is different from those that came before it in that the din of life is growing louder and causing greater harm the less we connect with our souls and with the God who made us.

An Unhealthy Turn
We Americans have been in a sympathetic dominant state for quite some time. We are inundated with stressors from the moment we wake. Even with all the trappings of modern conveniences in our work and family life, we’re also over-taxed, over-medicated, condescended to, misled, and violated. Competing narratives vie for our attention, everywhere and all the time. Certain narratives—like certain bacteria—have a predatory quality that lingers, striking the host at a moment of weakness, always with the goal to weaken it further to the point of its ultimate destruction.

That is why progressives, for example, go berserk as if according to script after a tragic event involving a gun; targeting every gun owner and would-be gun owner who had nothing to do with what happened. If they can take away the Second Amendment, the First Amendment becomes much more vulnerable. If they can take away the First Amendment, then like dominoes, the protections surrounding the rest of our rights—particularly those inconvenient natural ones—start to fall away.

There is no such thing as inert freedom. You’re either moving toward its full expression or its total suppression.

So we’ve been on perpetual defense as we’ve watched our people and our nation in the throes of palpable, albeit avoidable, decline. The body politic, just like the human body, can take only so many blows.

The 2016 Prescription
From the vantage of 2018, it seems clear that Barack Obama’s presidency was meant to be the beginning of the end for constitutional government as we’ve known it. Obama and his fellow ideologues—with typical ghoulish delight—were giddy to be at the helm of this demise, goading us into twilight. Great nations can last only so long, we were told. 
It’s just a matter of time. But Obama overused his phone and pen, so more Americans started paying closer attention to what was going on, and as it happens, they really didn’t like it.

But where to turn? The courts? Congress? An unreliable, low-T Republican Party?

The candidacy, election, and presidency of Donald Trump changed everything. Wildcard though he was, he has turned out to be the Great Disruptor in the best sense of the term. Trump is not only punching through the fake news about himself and his presidency but also through the lie that America is doomed immediately to the same fate as that of ancient Athens or the Roman Republic. We are at long last experiencing some parasympathetic relief (#Winning! in MAGA parlance) on the economic, political, regulatory, international, and cultural fronts. Every day is a news bonanza. When has politics ever been so exciting? I thought nothing could beat the 2016 election, but Trump’s first term is utterly lit.

Struggles Within the Body Politic
There is, however, a portion of the country that isn’t doing so hot. There is certainly overlap among these groups, but basically it’s the unrepentant NeverTrumpers, #TheResistance, the Democratic Party, the GOP establishment, and much of the media who doggedly remain in their sympathetic dominant state. They are broken and breaking further still. They pitch fits at Trump’s every executive action, tweet, and speech. Nothing less than his total and complete annihilation is acceptable.

Only then, with Trump out of the way and their bruised egos assuaged, can they come after those of us who instinctively cringed at Obama’s Worldwide Apology Tour and fumed when Iranian thugs forced our sailors onto their knees and one into a hijab. We actually believe this place is unique and lovely and worth preserving. We are not blind to our faults, past or present, but neither do we relish in them in some bizarre attempt to twist self-hatred into a virtue.

They bombard loyal and effective surrogates of Trump’s America First agenda. When snark and smear aren’t enough, they harass and threaten and openly advocate or commit acts of violence. Impatient to attain a reality more suitable to their selfish pursuits, they seem quite suddenly to care about big words they don’t understand like “democracy” and “freedom.” Bereft of shame or the ability to make a simple, logical argument, they feed off their shared animus toward Trump and move with disturbing frenzy from target to target.

Strengthening the Body in 2018 and Beyond
Dynamo though he is, Trump is just one man. And while he has strong support from his family and administration, in addition to a GOP-led Congress, he remains vulnerable. For the America First agenda to become an American ethos once again and extend beyond Trump’s presidency, he needs more unfettered time.

To get that, he needs greater support in terms of numbers and strength of will in the Congress. The Russia-collusion/FBI/Justice Department drama, media harping, among other anti-Trump shenanigans—and indeed some self-inflicted wounds—have been distracting enough, but to be stymied by a weakened GOP—or worse, a Democrat-led Congress would cause further delays.

Our system of government and the influential institutions within the wider culture have strayed so far from what engenders genuine freedom that it’s cumulative effect has led to an unnatural and unsustainable imbalance of power. The sovereignty of the American people is tenuous.

I’ve previously written that I didn’t think the fate of our nation hinges on one person. But that was before Election Day, before elements within the swamp and deep state rose up en masse in opposition to Trump. I knew it was bad, but now I know better. Trump is surrounded. Our collective political fate, therefore, is linked to Trump’s and Trump’s is largely linked to Congress. The 2018 midterm elections thus take on a special significance. Put simply: We need to protect Trump. A feckless GOP is indeed problematic, but at the moment it’s the particular means to a particular end. We need to elect Republicans with an American greatness mindset, spiritedness, and savvy. They’re out there. They’re in us.

About the Author:

Samantha Strayer
Samantha Strayer is a writer and editor whose interests include the intersection of politics and culture, the statesmanship of Abraham Lincoln, and classical charter schools. She graduated with an M.A. in Politics from Hillsdale College's Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship and was a Lincoln Fellow from the Claremont Institute.