Anarchy, Tyranny and the 2016 Election
In a fallen world, government is a necessary evil. We need a president who understands both words: “necessary” and “evil.”
Like most of you, I haven’t settled on a presidential candidate. I’d like to say that each of the Republican contenders has something to recommend him. But then I’d remember four of the most terrifying words in the English language: “George Pataki” and “Lindsey Graham,” and I’d have to go splash some cold water on my face and mutter a prayer.
Nobody’s perfect. The only candidates who check off each box on my list of “non-negotiable” issues (abortion, marriage, religious liberty, and immigration control) carry other attributes that render them less appealing, such as “laughably unelectable” or “only running to land a book deal and a talk show.”
In an ideal world, we’d be permitted to take the most valuable stance from each contender, and assimilate them all into a single, flawless entity whom we could follow. Like the Borg. But neither the Borg nor Cthulhu has announced this year, so we must go with some lesser evil.
Welcome to life. The desires, delusions and legitimate idiosyncrasies of other sovereign human beings are constant barriers to our grabbing everything we want and hoarding it in our basement, or putting our neighbors into drab matching uniforms and forcing them to do patriotic gymnastics. We must learn to tolerate other people’s “absurd” beliefs and “disgusting” choices in return for their putting up with ours. We rely on good manners and common decency most of the time to blunt the clashes among us, and only when those civil habits fail us must we turn to the cops and the lawyers, and the threat of fines and prison.
Our country’s founders called such an arrangement “ordered liberty.” Think of it as the golden mean, or the sweet spot somewhere between “Somali warlords fighting over who gets to steal your farm” and “North Korean soldiers staring coldly at you through the barbed wire.”
But for Americans in 2015, neither total anarchy nor absolute tyranny are the real dangers. The real danger is rather a creative amalgam of both, in which the government doesn’t do the short list of things that it’s supposed to, but steps right up and takes over a long list of tasks it has no business trying. A nation ruled by such a hybrid system would:
- Leave its borders porous to human traffickers, but keep troops in dozens of other countries, guaranteeing their security.
- Use the state to grind down the basic institutions of civil society on which its own democracy was built, while pouring money into civil society initiatives in foreign autocracies to try to build up democracy there.
- Try to restrict political speech aimed at influencing elections and legislation, but allow all kinds of pornography to wash over its young people.
- Permit and even fund the termination of innocent children, but refuse to execute murderers and terrorists.
- Meddle in the child-rearing choices of well-ordered married couples, but lavishly subsidize teenagers who got pregnant.
- Admit thousands of refugees who belonged to a religion incompatible with its constitution and culture, while rejecting those with the tolerant faith of its founding.
- Accept thousands of immigrants holding that intolerant faith, which teaches them the duty of religious war, then deal with the imported threat by spying on the private conversations and correspondence of all its citizens.
- Help to overthrow foreign regimes that repress that hostile religion, and put into power extremist movements that wish to impose it everywhere by force.
- Batter and recklessly redefine the most basic institution of society, marriage, and make the legal covenant on which it’s based completely unenforceable through no-fault divorce — while luring millions of young people, as the price of getting educated, into inescapable, sacred commitments of crippling debt to the government.
Does any of that sound familiar?
It would take a radical candidate, one who saw back to the roots (radix) of the American system, to cut through the sick tangle of sentimental bad ideas and counterproductive policies that have made our government a dangerous parasite upon the country. Just a few days ago, here at The Stream, Jason Jones called for a leader with exactly such a vision, and laid out some criteria we could use to recognize him if he steps forward.
Such a candidate won’t be “perfect.” His priorities might be confused. But if he sees clearly that progressive ideology has made our government itself America’s most intractable, ruinous problem, he will be solidly on the right track. Then it’s our job to educate him and keep him honest. We will do that through old-fashioned politics, putting pressure even on our friends when they are tempted to sell out our interests. Every one of our nation’s founders considered the growth of our own government more dangerous because more likely than an invasion by foreign powers. It is time to admit that they were right.