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The Fate of Independence

As many of us celebrated the birth of our nation this weekend, our pride and gratitude were tempered by the fear that America might have a dwindling number of future Independence Days to look forward to. A survey of the political landscape reveals that such pessimism regarding the survival of our Founding principles and institutions is not without cause.

The Left’s cancerous influence over our politics, media, and culture remains widespread, and the Right’s efforts in curing it leave much to be desired:

  • Over one million unborn children are slaughtered every year, yet when the Susan B. Anthony List asks those running to be the nation’s next president for the most basic and mild of pro-life promises, National Review decides they ask too much. Reason’s Matt Welch claims that only 30% of professed libertarians apply their philosophy of liberty and unalienable right to those most in need of their protection.
  • Despite all the this-time-we-really-mean-it promises from Republicans after their 2010 victory, it’s still doubtful that the GOP has the fortitude or savvy to right our fiscal ship. Speaker John Boehner settled for a budget deal that began with far smaller spending cuts than America needs and turned out to be far, far less than even the announced numbers. Signs of further disappointment suggest the GOP still hasn’t kicked its addiction to compromise.
  • President Barack Obama has been a vigorous practitioner of policymaking by bureaucracy, yet Republicans have not even moved to begin a national debate on the administrative state, despite the fact that it violates the democratic process, eviscerates separation of powers, and exacerbates our fiscal woes.
  • The dangerous world beyond our shores demands the articulation of a coherent foreign policy vision, yet the Right is divided between fringe isolationists like Ron Paul and knee-jerk interventionists like John McCain, with prudent hawks caught in the middle.
  • Marriage, the very foundational unit of society, faces an existential threat as radical gay activists seek to empty the institution of what little purpose remains in it and reduce marriage to a state seal of lifestyle approval. But our leaders can’t even be bothered to raise the subject, allegedly because it would distract them from the fiscal crisis they aren’t solving, either.
  • Several states have made great strides in restraining the public-sector unions that strangle good government, but the outcome on that front is far from certain. Across the nation, public educators are poisoning children’s minds with the worst propaganda imaginable about reformers’ efforts, yet even Scott Walker of Wisconsin refuses to acknowledge the severity of the problem.

With something going wrong at every turn, it’s tempting to lose hope that the United States can ever be set right. Where do we even begin?

As bleak as things seem, it’s worth remembering that ours is hardly the first generation of Americans to be plagued by seemingly intractable crises. But we’ve always beaten the odds before:

  • For half a century, the threat of nuclear war hung over the world, with many in the US government and the nation’s elite institutions convinced that we should get used to permanently sharing the globe with an Evil Empire and surrendering our national security interests to her whims. But once the nation finally noticed what the right man had been saying for years, everything changed.
  • It took over eighty years after we declared independence to end the enslavement of our fellow man on the basis of race, and even then, genuine political and social equality took another full century; many living today can still remember what it was like to know—or be—a second-class citizen. But equality was won, and racism is, for all practical purposes, dead in America.
  • Indeed, we sometimes forget that our nation’s very existence is a stunning defiance of probability. With a handful of small colonies on one side and the most powerful empire of its day on the other, to suggest the odds weren’t in the United States’ favor would be an understatement. And even with independence won, there was still the very real question whether constitutional self-government would even work. Washington himself doubted that the Constitution would last much more than twenty years. That it’s lasted two centuries longer than Washington’s prediction is downright miraculous.

I’m not arguing that victory is certain, far from it. There’s no guarantee we’ll get our act together in time to save our country. But it’s far too early to throw in the towel. Our mission is more complex than electing the right people enough times—we also need to convince those elected representatives our support is contingent upon hard results, finish off the public’s dwindling trust in the mainstream media, reform the leftist indoctrination camps so many of our schools and universities have become, and develop successful conservative counterweights in our heavily-liberal popular culture.

Daunting projects all, but achievable, especially considering that we have several tools our predecessors did not, among them a vibrant Tea Party movement, Fox News, talk radio, the blogosphere, and scores of education and action groups. It’s never been easier to get the facts, spread the word, mobilize the decent, and expose the guilty. And we still have the most powerful support our forefathers appealed to: “a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.”

The fall of the United States is not inevitable. We didn’t get here overnight, and we shouldn’t expect a constitutional rebirth overnight either. Every level of American government and society needs to be scrubbed clean. Meaningful, lasting reform is the work of generations, which will demand from each of us more patience, tenacity, and fortitude than ever before.

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