Are Americans too corrupt to be free? As our Constitution’s framers well knew, a republic is the most demanding form of government. If the people aren’t careful in choosing elected officials and diligent in defending basic principles of self-government, they will invite politicians to bribe them. At first, politicians will give tiny bribes that don’t stand out as corruption—offers for the government to protect people, making their lives easier, more streamlined, and more comfortable. Slowly, but predictably, we come to think of these bribes as what our government “owes” us, and we become dependent subjects of distant elites.
This is the danger we came close to embracing in 2016, and it continues to grow.
From helping the deserving poor, our government moved on to creating more poverty by fostering welfare dependency, and now to “protecting” aggressive crybullies to keep their feelings from being hurt by normal folk seeking to go about their lives unmolested. Yet we continue to ask for more—more subsidized healthcare, more free education, more guarantees that no one will refuse to celebrate our choice of spouse, sex, or even profession. It is as if Americans have decided that “freedom” means forcing everyone else to protect our psyches and support us no matter what choices we make.
All this government “protection” has taken a heavy toll on our society and character. Family breakdown, crime, dependency, assaults on religious freedom, and now the loss of free speech and the invasion of our privacy by high-tech gurus and the surveillance state—all of these are born of our desire to be “protected”and in the name of making us a more just, “woke” people.
Is it any wonder our rulers would deny us the right to vote them out of office? That they would dismiss people who vote “wrong” as deplorable clingers who refuse to get with their program of security, comfort, and enlightenment?
They’ve even told us that virtue itself is less a matter of governing our own lives than of helping them govern all our lives. The “best” citizen is no longer the hard-working provider for his family, the public-minded volunteer at the local library (unless he’s a drag queen), or the child who shows initiative by selling lemonade or mowing lawns to raise money for charity or simply start a business. Now the good citizen is a “social justice warrior” who hectors his classmates or sues his neighbor to make certain no one gets in the way of celebrating “alternative lifestyles” or maligning the cop on the beat as a thug, even as we bow down before the faceless mechanisms of the deep state.
How, then, can we hope to take our country back from a government whose employees live by Reagan’s Nine Scariest Words: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”? How can a people so lost in dependency on government, social media, and the smug “helping professions” win back the right and reality of self-government?
In assessing our chances and determining our next moves, Americans should keep two important facts in mind.
First, much, if not most, of our people are not nearly so far gone as we think. Families still form and stay together in America, and most Americans never leave the spouse they first married. We still support ourselves and recognize that government’s essential, limited role is to protect America’s borders and the families, churches, and local associations in which we live from those who would undermine them.
Second, traditional American institutions, beliefs, and practices are not, in fact, intolerant remnants of a dead past. They are good things—natural things destined to reassert themselves once freed from the grip of a hostile administrative state. The family of husband, wife, and children is natural. The local community in which citizens welcome public expressions of patriotism and faith is natural to us. The American character, with roots going back before our republic was formed, is not oppressive; it is a good character, one of hard work, loyalty, honor, and a determination to uphold our basic values even in the face of a hostile government, be it that of King George III or of bureaucrats who decree that little girls must share restrooms with grown men.
Our condition looks worse than it is because the relatively few people who dominate our big government, big media, big tech, and big “culture”—as well as corporate human resource departments—hate us. But then people who rise to the top in large organizations often see themselves as better than the people they have surpassed.
What to do? We can and must: break up big government by refusing to accept its bribes and insisting that officials follow our laws and Constitution—or suffer real, legal consequences; break up big tech by using antitrust actions to restore competition and protect our privacy; stop allowing government contracts and student loans to subsidize intolerant, “woke” universities with their billion-dollar endowments; stop giving tax breaks to Hollywood peddlers of hatred toward Middle America; and stop allowing the mainstream media to dictate what we think about the issues of the day, even as they provide cover to an increasingly arrogant and lawless deep state.
Donald Trump’s victory, and the current cultural conflicts over marriage, abortion, religious freedom, speech on campus, and the whole LGBTQ+ extremism of transgender aggression aren’t a last gasp of resistance to “the tide of history.” They are the first act of effective resistance by Americans who object to having the fringe program of a decadent cultural elite thrust down their throats.
The American way of faith, family, and freedom remains our rightful inheritance. It is a way of life natural to us and worth fighting for. We got into this mess by choosing the ease and protection of life in the shadow of big government. Speaking up in the public square, at the ballot box, on campus and, where necessary, in court, we can reclaim our deeper values, reconnect with our deeper virtues, and take back what is properly ours: the rights and duties of self-government.
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