by Bradley Rees, Virginia Tenth Amendment Center
In Virginiaâ€™s Fifth District (where I live), as well as across the nation, people are beginning to ask the fundamental questions. What remains to be seen is this: whether enough sets of lips will give voice to them before it becomes too late.
In a recent post, I compared our political landscape to a forest. However, a more apt analogy may be a swamp (appropriately enough, considering the original terrain of our nationâ€™s capital).
The reason I say this is simple: We seem to have gotten bogged down in partisanship and stuck waist-deep in certain issues that, ultimately, bear little consequence in our current economic climate.
â€œSocialâ€ conservatives and â€œsocial justiceâ€ liberals will both strap on the hip-waders of morality to justify their ends, yet both equally miss the mark when trying to square their respective positions with the Foundersâ€™ vision of liberty and, moreover, Federalism.
Donâ€™t get me wrong. Iâ€™m not trying to open the door for a debate on whether the Founders envisioned a moral society. Their own writings leave no wiggle room between door and jamb, on that score.
But, in the far rightâ€™s refusal to acknowledge the significance of the 9th Amendment, and the far leftâ€™s misguided interpretation of the 10th (due mostly to a blatant misreading of Article 1, Section 8), both tend to forget other important elements of our Founding documents.
More importantly, they misinterpret (or simply disregard) the frame of mind of those who wrote them. We know the Founders were intensely aware of the severe danger posed by a monarchy or similarly dictatorial style of governance.
What some of us too often neglect is that they had just as much, if not more, fear of a theocratic State. But, in reality, are they that dissimilar?
Theocratic rule in England was made that much more powerful by the complementary system of hereditary Monarchy. But, in the absence of that particular style of government, would a theocracy be any less brutal? Would it be any less a danger to the rights and liberty of the under-class?
The Founders knew, from both experience and intellectual honesty, that the answer to both preceding questions is a resounding â€œNo!â€
Again, it is clearly understood that the Founders were moral men, and many of them were deeply religious, holding their God, and the principles He inspired, as their moral code for dealing with their fellow man.
Indeed, Jefferson wrote into the Declaration and the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions their commonly held belief that manâ€™s natural rights are derived from our Creator.
Yet, you will notice that the Bill of Rights is NOT a recitation of the Ten Commandments. In fact, many of the principal tenets of traditional Judeo-Christian faith are not even hinted at in any of our founding documents.
The Foundersâ€™ stipulation that we should strive to maintain a moral society can be summed up thusly:
That, as free men, we are endowed with certain rights which confer NO obligation on our fellow man, save one: that they refrain from violating them. And we likewise refrain from violating their rights, whether through force or fraud.
The former was the basis for Ayn Randâ€™s great anti-statist novel, Atlas Shrugged, and was the underpinning of her Objectivist philosophy.
Yet, it should be noted here, she was an avowed atheist. The concept of manâ€™s rights being derived from our Creator did not hold any weight with her. She argued that, simply by virtue of being human, these rights belong to us.
The point is, we can find broad agreement on these simple points, across typical dividing lines of race, religion, and even political loyalty.
Why, then, must we sink into the swamp of arguing over moral issues which are typically the product of religious ideology?
The Founders would be ashamed and saddened to see their writings, and the system of governance they debated over, lost sleep to put into writing, and even bled for, being reduced to the heap of rubble it will surely become.
And all because we refused to rise from the mire of social issues and face our Republicâ€™s true threat: the loss of liberty. This liberty is being taken away from all of us, from pro-life to pro-choice, from recreational drug user to ardent drug prohibitionist, from quiet heterosexual to flamboyant Gay Pride parade organizer.
And it is happening much more rapidly now than ever before.
I would submit to you, dear reader, that the alligators are above the shoreline, gnawing away at this great Republic.
Can we commence with draining the Social Issues Swamp? I think you will find that, once we do, those who have been in the swamp with us, mud wrestling over these issues, will pick up shovels and join us in marching as one united force to beat back the alligators.
Once the Republic is secure, maybe we can get back to the Foundersâ€™ words, in the Federalist papers and Amendments 9 and 10, and find that we had no reason to be in that swamp in the first place.
Bradley Rees is a long-time activist for tax reform, a former Congressional candidate in VA-5, and a talk show host with CBMedia Network on Blog Talk Radio. Visit his website at http://sonofliberty2k10.wordpress.com.
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