FRONT ROYAL, VA — In case Republicans haven’t noticed, Obama has declared war on them.
Perhaps he recognizes that the party of Reagan is defenseless these days, having abdicated the principles that built the modern GOP – principles that have long enjoyed the high regard of a majority of Americans, millions of them nominal Democrats.
All of this is hardly news: conservatives have been on the ropes for years, and no one else in the GOP ever had any principles to begin with. Even now, the Tea Party diehards are getting the back of the hand from an ungrateful establishment. Republicans have fallen far from the moral high ground that conservatives built for the party in the days when the Gipper united it.
The fact that the GOP is still around at all might reflect the sad fact that many people of principle simply think there’s nowhere else to go. But that negative is a far cry from a positive – and it shows.
Speaking of negatives, it goes without saying these days that Democrats have long since abandoned principle altogether – unless, of course, lust for power can be called a “principle.” Augustine calls this Deadly Sin the libido dominandi, and how timeless and tireless it is: today’s defiant Democrats have merely packed a gaggle of self-indulgent interest groups into their crowded corral of corruption, paying them off with taxpayer-funded benefits, preferences, affirmations of a stunning variety of sexual indulgences and prurient privileges, crony cash, and, when all else fails, the promise of a friendly wink from the Leviathan.
The makeup of this captive collective remarkably reflects Rousseau’s Volonté de Tous, that mélange of individual interests that the Sovereign rejects in favor of the absolute power conferred by the Volonté Generale – the General Will. That cynical concoction empowers the Sovereign to decide all by himself what is good and what is evil [viz. Genesis 3:5]. This deft sleight of hand allows the tyrant to exercise absolute power [kratos] over the people [demos] “for their own good.”
Thus is Lincoln’s famous formulation – “of the people, by the people, and for the people” – effortlessly hijacked (as Mel Bradford predicted long ago.)
And those who resist? Rousseau concedes with a sigh that, well, “they must be forced to be free.” Brandishing that ersatz seal of moral approval, aspiring tyrants can easily seduce a veritable ocean of do-gooders, unwitting accomplices in the extermination of liberty.
No wonder, then, that the Founders loathed Rousseau’s democracy and established its opposite, a constitutional republic – which, as Tocqueville and even the Supreme Court acknowledged, thrived because we were a “Christian nation.”
Today, channeling Rousseau and Lenin, the Democrat Left has hollowed out the republic, discarding its principles and turned the dessicated husk upside-down. And why not? Didn’t Lenin say that Marx stood Hegel on his head? Once one denies the realm of the spiritual altogether, the Party has all the Power of Pilate to determine good and evil.
Falsehood always brings violence in its wake, said Solzhenitsyn, and the victims of the Leftist Lie are legion. Consider the Christian (and also constitutional) principle of subsidiarity, which reserves to small communities the freedom to handle their own affairs without interference from the central government. For the Left (including the Republican Left and the Christian Left, by the way), this principle is anathema. But it is useful, so the Power Party has hijacked it and corrupted it, all without a fight: now power must flow from the top down, implemented by commissars and apparatchiks (ours wear suits) who oppress, rather than respect, a free people.
Those are the same free people whom the Founders regarded as the locus of authority in a constitutional republic.
For the Democrat Left, down is always up. All around us we see that cause and effect and other laws of nature still abide – defy them, and our political and social culture sinks into chaos. So the only things that work today are drones, iPads, and Obama’s Thought Police.
Do Republicans Have An Alternative?
Well, back to the GOP, that party of principle.
You’d think Republicans would learn.
Remember Woodrow Wilson’s “War To End All Wars”? It didn’t. Instead, it launched a century of violence and lies, feeding on innocent blood.
In like manner, Franklin Roosevelt’s insatiable appetite for flattery at Yalta gave Stalin one hundred million Christians in Eastern Europe to suffer under Soviet rule for half of a century.
By the time LBJ’s war in Viet Nam – complete with Richard Nixon’s “Secret Plan” to end it – came and went, Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Bob Dole could famously condemn “Democrat Wars” in 1976, underscoring the solidly Republican alternative of “Peace and Prosperity.” Dole wasn’t able to make that stick, but Ronald Reagan did, making him the most popular president in living memory.
And then along came George W. Bush, who was as uneasy his conservative platform in 2000 as FDR was with his in 1932. But “9-11 changed everything,” so the dialectic trumped principle, and “Big-Government Conservatism” quickly became the new normal. While Obama was still a no-show in the Illinois State Senate, the Bush-Cheney administration laid the ideological and legal groundwork for the campaign that is destroying the Republic today. Obama is only picking up where Bush left off.
The irony is cruel and unrelenting. Rejecting the Founders and resurrecting Wilson, Bush and Cheney decided to “make the world safe for democracy.” They stood Bob Dole on his head, turning the Republican Party upside down – celebrating power while ignoring the Constitution, Congress, and history.
Perhaps – especially for the profoundly Christian Bush – the most tragic consequence (yes, tragic, because hubris is indeed a tragic flaw) was the virtual annihilation of Christianity in the Middle East, especially in the countries that Bush’s invasions were said to “liberate.”
Alas, a “rump parliament” of Christian ”Happy-Talkers” in the GOP Hot Tub still celebrates Bush’s “triumphs,” even as Obama’s grim offensive against liberty continues to build on the fertile ground that Bush’s dialectic graciously, albeit perhaps mindlessly, bequeathed to him.
Why do they persist?
Principles – For Sale, Cheap!
Well, over the years, an increasing number of Republican Regulars have bought into the formula that the Democrats have used to destroy the GOP. The ease with which this well-heeled Hot Tub Herd has been tamed by baubles and banalities brings to mind another immorality tale, recounted in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart.
There, England’s King Edward, known as “Longshanks,” faces Gibson in the role of William Wallace, who leads the Scots in the Battle of Falkirk. Longshanks is smug, having bought off Wallace’s allies, Lochlan and Mornay. The instructive scene is set as Longshanks calls for his Irish troops to engage the Scots.
General: Mornay, Lochlan?
Longshanks: I gave Mornay double his lands in Scotland and matching estates in England. Lochlan turned for much less.
General: I beg your pardon, sire. Won’t we hit our own troops?
Longshanks: Yes, but we’ll hit theirs as well. We have reserves.
In this exchange we observe venality in all its glory. Yes, the GOP’s ambitious nobility aspire to a payoff like Mornay’s, but, like Lochlan, all too many have “turned for much less.”
But Mel leaves a haunting message for the sellouts of our own age: the battle lost, Wallace tracks down Lochlan and Mornay, and kills them both.
From Under the Rubble is copyright (c) 2013 by Christopher Manion. All rights reserved. This column is sponsored by the Bellarmine Forum, and distributed by Griffin Internet Syndicate and FGF Books, www.fgfBooks.com.
Christopher Manion is Director of the Campaign for Humanae Vitae™, a project of the Bellarmine Forum. He served as a staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for many years. He has taught in the departments of politics, religion, and international relations at Boston University, the Catholic University of America, and Christendom College. This column is sponsored by the Bellarmine Forum.