A Time for Choosing

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.

We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

Thus spoke Ronald Reagan some forty-six years ago.  Tragically, today in America it appears the time for choosing may have passed. As each day goes by our debt grows more unsustainable; our security further imperiled; our economy more shackled; our government more tyrannical.

These are symptoms of an America that has chosen the wrong path: the road to serfdom over the road to civilization. This plight is the result of a hundred-plus year campaign by the socialist sophists to slowly but surely undermine the principles that built our nation to its hegemonic place. While the ends of a nation are peace and prosperity, there has always been a difference in opinion as to the means to achieve these ends.  This fundamental tension has rested upon the difference between liberty and tyranny.

As Frederic Bastiat argued, “The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.” James Madison, perhaps slightly more optimistic shared Bastiat’s concerns, arguing, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Herein lies the problem of government. We grant government its privileges in order to protect our natural rights, yet it is difficult enough for man to govern himself let alone others. Thus, in devising a governmental system, our founders set up a Constitution of diffuse powers, ensuring that the majority of power rested with the states or the people.

As our country grew, slowly but surely the state consumed our rights instead of securing them. Government grew whilst the individual shrunk. Whereas the law was meant to protect against the diminution of the individual, instead it was used as an instrument of plundering him. Bastiat argued, “Legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways; hence, there are an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, bonuses, subsidies, incentives, the progressive income tax, free education, the right to employment, the right to profit, the right to wages, the right to relief, the right to the tools of production, interest free credit, etc., etc. And it the aggregate of all these plans, in respect to what they have in common, legal plunder, that goes under the name of socialism.”

We allowed for the planting of these seeds of destruction. We have always had the better ideas, but we have failed to adequately defend them. Our ideological counterparts, realizing that they could not win on the basis of substance propagandized through academia and the media, and co-opted the poorest and the richest in their lust to undermine our rights for their personal gain. Anecdotally, we can see a clear difference in the logical ends of the policies the statists espouse.  A good example would be in looking at West Germany and East Germany during the Cold War.  Similarly, if we compare and contrast the liberal urban areas in America with more conservative suburban ones we see a clear difference in wealth, crime and quality of life.  Yet even with the stark differences in results, somehow we have succumbed to the path to barbarism.

The battle lines between our sides are clear, but we have not articulated them well. We have not promulgated the dangers of liberalism, progressivism or socialism, nor the virtues of freedom. We have sacrificed the individual to the state.  But if Americans were to examine the following questions, who would support this system? Do Americans believe in private self-reliance or public largess? Do we believe in meritocracy or a thugocracy? Do we reward success or failure? Do we stand upright or bow to the world? Do we wish to return America to fiscal order, or condemn future generations to debt slavery? Do we believe that solutions to our problems come through the ingenuity and toil of the American people, or from faceless bureaucrats in Washington? Do we wish to be the shining beacon of civilization, or a mere footnote in a history book?  Do we believe in the individual, innovation, morality and the spontaneous and organic harmony of freedom or the collective, backward, perverted morality and destitution of centrally planned servitude?

The people of this nation know that the progress of man has always come from the individual, free to question, experiment and fail. In fact, it is often out of failure that opportunity arises. Our nation was built on principles derived from the wisdom of founders who had studied the failures of their predecessors. They understood that powerful centralized government could never advance man, but only restrain him.  That the sole purpose of government was to protect man from tyranny, and build a foundation on the basis of property rights and the rule of law to allow man to flourish.  But generation after generation, we have allowed our government to slowly but surely usurp our freedom — to steal from us the life, liberty and property that make us men.  We have allowed politicians to weaken our constitution and dehumanize us.

While our intellectual foes have had over a hundred-year head start on us, we now have a populace galvanized against our largely corrupt stewards. We must capitalize on this time to educate a captive audience on history; on principles; on the ideals that we have allowed to grow decadent. In the meantime in trying to roll back years of ideological subversion that have numbed Americans to truth and morality, we must elect officials who will stop government from expanding.  Then, we must go to work in stripping it back to the bare bones explicitly attributable to it by our Constitution.  In order to achieve this monumental task, we will need to seek out those candidates who are unafraid of the censorship that is political correctness; who have a clear understanding that the state is always to be subservient to the individual; who are willing to stand for principle even if it means political pain; in other words, we will have to seek out the people that would have in the past avoided government and who do not stand to gain from serving in it.

This battle will take many, many years, and we may not be successful.  But difficult as this struggle may be, appeasement and the choosing of the middle path will surely lead to failure.  Reagan understood this when it came to the Cold War.  He argued, ”every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face—that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand—the ultimatum.”  We must fight this same war but on ideological grounds.  For as Reagan further noted, “You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery.”  We might add that chains and slavery will never lead to a dear life or sweet peace.

We must express to all those who cherish this country that nothing less than our existence rests upon our fight against the tyranny of our democracy.  Our state is a Leviathan, hurtling towards fiscal and moral bankruptcy and war.  History will either remember us as the generation that twiddled our fingers while Rome burned, or the underdogs who overcame great evil to return this nation to its rightful place as a shining city on a hill.  We lie very close to the precipice today.  So as Reagan argued, though we may be late we still must still make the proper existential choice.  We must choose to fight the fight for civilization or risk dishonoring our founders and men like Reagan, enslaving our children and debauching our once great nation.  In a world being consumed by the ideologies of socialism and its ally in Islamism, we still remain the last best hope of man on Earth.

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