I’m always looking for the principle behind a thing, the key thing, the root thing, the thing that makes it all work. I can’t walk into a building without starting to analyze the structure to figure out which is a load-bearing wall, which is a facade, what holds this up and what supports that.
I’m that way with politics and government too. I want to find the foundational principles that make for good government, the eternal truths that can tell me which policies are right or wrong. I want to make sure I’m getting to the root of the matter and am not being distracted by something superficial.
I realize not everyone is like me and I don’t expect you to be. However, there are times in life when we absolutely must understand what is at the root of a matter and make sure we are dealing with it at the source. If not, we’ll be destined to futility in our dealings with it and we’ll never be able to fix it when it’s broken. Think about it – you don’t go to a doctor just to talk with him about how you feel, then have him give you something to relieve those symptoms. You go to a doctor to have him correctly diagnose the root cause of the symptoms so you can fix the problem at its source.
Likewise, in matters of politics and civil government, we cannot afford to become distracted with superficial things that are mere symptoms of a more systemic, root matter. We risk getting caught up in treating the symptoms of our political ailment and failing to fight the disease at the root.
I was recently reminded of the importance of understanding key issues, principles and underlying causes while reviewing an article by Memphis attorney and 2008 Constitution Party Vice Presidential nominee, Darrell Castle. In his article on “How the Republic Became a Monarchy,” Darrell went all the way back to President Woodrow Wilson, the 16th Amendment (the income tax) and the establishing of the Federal Reserve in order to show his readers how key things that happened 100 years ago are at the root of much of what we are dealing with today. I highly recommend a review of Darrell’s article, both for the sake of the information provided in it and as an exercise in learning to identify key issues that are at the root of our nation’s maladies. If you prefer, the same information is available as a four part series of audio podcasts (about 5min each) at www.castlereport.us (Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4).
While I say this in love, seeking the best interest of my friends, brethren and fellow countrymen, I have to point out that the Christian-conervative-right has, in great part, lost sight of the key issues, root matters and foundational principles. We have become distracted with the symptoms of the diseases that plague our land and have come to devote the majority of our time and effort to suppressing the symptoms instead of eradicating the disease.
The conservative movement has become like a man with a tree in his backyard that is producing poisonous fruit. His strategy is to grab a stick and start swinging at whatever piece of fruit happens to catch his eye, hoping to knock some of it off the branch before it matures. But no matter how frantically he swings at the fruit, it keeps coming back faster than he can knock it down. He has become so distracted by his frenzied fight with the fruit on the branches that he fails to notice the root feeding the tree. If he would just take an ax and start chopping off the roots instead, he could rid himself of all the toxic fruit.
Through a combination of distraction and a forgetfulness of the foundational Biblical values, strict Constitutional limits and key principles of liberty, the conservative movement has come to a place of counting a slower loss as a win and the partial alleviating of a symptom as a major victory. Today’s conservatism appears only to be playing defense and is singularly devoted to the strategy of trying to slow the spread of the disease and ease some of the symptoms. My friend, former Montana State Representative, Rick Jore, refers to members of his former party who follow this strategy as, “Slow Death Republicans.”
Let’s look at just a few examples of key issues, root causes and foundational principles versus distractions and treating the symptoms.
THE INCOME TAX
How much time and energy did the conservative movement expend fighting to get, and later to keep, the so called “Bush tax cuts”? By the attention given to them, those tax cuts would appear to have been the conservative event of the decade and probably were the high water mark of conservative achievement during that period. But how much difference did those tax cuts actually make in your everyday life? How much more disposable income do you have now?
The fact is that those tax cuts only made a few minor adjustments to a huge, complex and evil system of taxation that a Republican President and Republican controlled Congress had it in their power to abolish – possibly by repealing the 16th Amendment, but at least by defunding and dismantling the IRS. Conservatives heralded as a tremendous victory this barely discernible relief brought just to one of the nation’s multitude of maladies. But the conservative movement, as represented by those to whom it had handed the reins of power, utterly passed up the opportunity to lay the ax to a major root providing the revenues that feed a plethora of unconstitutional branches of government.
THE FEDERAL RESERVE
Conservatives spend massive amounts of time and energy fighting policies and agendas that come down through a vast maze of unconstitutional and extra-constitutional bureaus, agencies and programs. All forms of federal taxation combined are not sufficient to support the heavy load of all these agencies and programs. In other words, these can only exist through deficit spending – deficit spending that is facilitated by the existence of the Federal Reserve and its ability to create fiat funny money out of thin air, backed by nothing. During the conservative reign of complete Republican control from 2000 to 2006, the President and Congress had it within their power to repeal the Federal Reserve Act and restore constitutionally authorized money coined by Congress and backed by gold. This would have chopped off another major root that feeds the branches of unconstitutional government through deficit spending. But who in the dominant conservative movement or the Republican Party even alluded to this possibility, much less called for it?
“GREAT SOCIETY” PROGRAMS
This isn’t just happening at the federal level. The distraction from key issues and fundamental principles is taking place in the states too. Today’s brand of conservatism at the state level seems to consist of contending for performance audits and better management of the state’s many Great Society, welfare and social services programs. Conservative law makers tout it as a great victory whenever they can sustain the current state programs and agencies without raising taxes. But if the conservative movement were remembering its origins in the principles of liberty and limited government in the spirit of the American founders, it would be contending for the complete defunding and dismantling of every one of those socialist programs. And in case you think it’s the Democrats that won’t let them do it, keep in mind that fully half of the states are currently under complete Republican control with a majority in both houses and the governorship.
Today’s brand of conservatism thinks it is really taking a stand when it answers the education establishment’s demands for increased funding with timid suggestions that maybe we should audit the government schools first, or evaluate teacher performance. But the Bible teaches that the education of children is the sole responsibility and jurisdiction of parents. When government mandates and regulates the educating of children, it comes between parent and child, violates the God ordained order and is outside of its God given jurisdiction. When government taxes one man for the education of another man’s child, it now engages in legalized plunder, violation of that man’s liberty and establishes socialism. If conservatives were discerning the root matters and committed to fundamental principles, they would be calling for the abolition of government run education, not trying to “fix it.”
BEING “CONSERVATIVE” SOCIALISTS
Just the other day, I received an email from a “conservative” legislator representing one of the most conservative districts in my state. One of the bragging points in his legislative report was that he had brought home the bacon to the tune of $1million for a “skills center” (aka vocational school). This is a foray by government into an area of education where many privately operated vocational schools and technical institutes have been meeting the need quite well. This is governments’ making the conscious choice to go into competition with existing private sector business and doing so with the advantage of being taxpayer-subsidized. Today’s “new conservatism” boasts that it brings home the bacon, gets us our “fair share” from the bucket of socialist slop and, by the way, it pats us on the back for being fiscally responsible, bragging that our “skills” center has the lowest cost per square foot of any similar socialist program across the state – boy, aren’t we conservative!
The Republicans are not in the majority in my state and may not have had anything to do with funding this particular program, but it’s sad when the best that the new conservatism can do is to congratulate ourselves as to what fiscally responsible socialists we are. Even if a legislator is not in a position to eliminate such socialistic programs from the state’s budget, couldn’t he, we, or the conservative movement, at least use an occasion like this as an opportunity to share a lesson on fundamental principles of liberty, limited government, private sector free enterprise and Biblical jurisdictions? How is anyone going to learn to discern socialism from liberty, or know that it’s bad and why it’s wrong when “conservative” legislators don’t speak out against it?
These are just a few examples that show us that the conservative movement has become distracted from the key issues and root matters and has ceased fighting the disease and settled for treating the symptoms instead. The new conservatism, as manifested by the Republican Party at least, now accepts socialism and prides itself on being able to make unconstitutional, secular humanist, socialist, big government work better than the other party.
We need to learn to think like Americans again because we’ve obviously forgotten. May I recommend the short weekly commentaries of Institute on the Constitution co-founder and 2004 Constitution Party Presidential nominee, Michael Anthony Peroutka, at www.theamericanview.com. Subscribe today and in no time at all Michael will have you thinking like an American again and believing that “there is a God; our rights come from Him; government exists to protect those rights.”
May I challenge us to begin scrutinizing every political issue to discern the difference between key issues and mere distractions. Darrell Castle’s news and commentary podcsats can help with this. It only takes 5 minutes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at www.castlereport.us.
Then, once we’ve learned to tell the difference between the root and the fruit, let’s grab our ax and start chopping at the root.