Get your political fix from an unrepentant political junkie.
July 16, 2015
“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” – Winston Churchill
In my young, college days, I was attracted to the reform movements in American history, beginning with the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening. Together, they inspired subsequent movements: the American Revolution, Second Great Awakening, Progressive Era, and the Civil Rights Movement, all rooted in the Judeo-Christian belief in individual free will.
The philosophical pillars of the American ethos, the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening, emphasized the truth that people were born free to think. If thought is suppressed for one, then freedom for all is nullified, and we no longer are a free people but a subjected people. We are slaves to those who seek to control thought and thus the expression of thought.
The Enlightenment appealed to Europeans’ and Americans’ intellectual desire for truth through scientific methods. The Great Awakening appealed to their desire for truth through intuition and faith. As human beings, we cannot deny our intellect or our faith. These movements were not opposites but complementary in the dialectical theory of the Ancient Greeks and the Scientific Revolution: one action begets another and progress proceeds in a spiral fashion.
From these movements have grown the democratic process of electing political leaders and the formation of a constitutional republic. Americans rejected the philosophy of divine right of kings and the constitutional monarchy of Britain, and borrowed heavily from the Roman republic model and the English Magna Carta and Parliament.
America’s founding principles of limited government, laissez-faire economics, and individual liberties still are the best tools for achieving the moral goals of serving society by empowering the individual, reducing poverty, improving education, and expanding suffrage.
“A distant, central government dictating every small decision in each town would result in poverty. The ultimate unit of government is the individual . . . He knows best his needs,” wrote Thomas Jefferson. The alternative is oppression, whether it be monarchy, socialism, or the more benign paternalism of modern liberalism.
Limited government allowed laissez-faireism to lead to industrialization and middle class and economic boom to a much higher standard of living. Losing Ground by Charles Murray proves the eighteenth-century principles were as applicable in the 1980s, and helped lead to a leaner federal government in the 1990s, thereby reducing the number of Americans dependent on the welfare state.
Individual liberties were previously denied to groups, such as blacks and women, a contradiction of the Founders’ philosophy, but it was this philosophy that created the social and political environment for the fulfillment of the American promise of opportunity and freedom. The truth of these principles stand firm as proved by the bearing of their fruit.
Truth is timeless, and inevitably truth is revealed.
To seek the truth, we must avoid the “red herring,” the distraction from the real problems, whereby we look to the symbolic gesture and avoid honest discussion of the real problems and solutions.
Despite the negative in our national history, we still have much to celebrate. Every generation must resist the pull of oppressive power. The promise of America is a work in progress and worthy of emulation for future generations.