Before a Gap Can be Bridged, It Must be Understood

By Micah Clark  – Taken from Indiana Family Voice, January 2011 – AFA of Indiana’s newsletter

This is food for thought. It is not an article asking for an end to partisan bickering by asking “why can’t we all just get along?”

  Short of a life-changing spiritual revival, there simply is no middle ground to be found between AFA of Indiana and those who profit from abortion, those who promote homosexual sodomy, or those who pollute society with pornography.  If you ever hear of AFA working with Planned Parenthood, you should call us immediately to ask if we have compromised our principles.

Still, some political divides are unnecessary and harmful to the cause of good governance. Take for example, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels’ comments last month concerning the Indiana General Assembly.  He said that he was OK with pro-life legislation as long as it “doesn’t get in the way” of his “crucial issues” of education reform.    This came on the heels of his ill-advised call for a “truce” on social issues. It was an example of an unnecessary divide between fiscal and social conservatives.

                Social conservatives largely tend  to be fiscal conservatives too.  Most pro-life and pro-family Hoosiers would also agree with limits on state spending and some  market-based education reforms.

       Yet, few who promote the division seem to notice that on the political left, there is no similar divide between the fiscal and social agenda.  Democrat leader Sen. Harry Reid, the Human Rights Campaign and the Communist Party USA were all promoting homosexuals in the military last month and more spending at the same time.  The far left seems to better understand that destroying the traditional family and morality goes hand in hand with bigger government than do many on the right.

                In contrast, many conservatives see a dividing line between the moral and the fiscal that causes them to dismiss the importance of social concerns. Such was not the case with our nation’s founders.  James Madison, known as the Architect of the Constitution, observed, “To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical [imaginary] idea.”   

                Dr. Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration, wrote in a letter to John Adams, “liberty without virtue would be no blessing at all.”  Adams was in agreement because he said, “[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.” 

                John Witherspoon, Declaration signer and member of the Constitutional Convention noted, “So true is this, that civil liberty cannot be long preserved without virtue.”

                Edmund Burke, founding era orator and respected philosopher warned, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their appetites . . . . It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

                “What is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint,” Burke also noted.

                It would be hard to argue that many of our nation’s founders saw a dividing line between the economy or limited government and moral matters, which many today want to impose.  They saw social or moral concerns as the very underpinning of freedom.  Without it, they argued, liberty was not lasting, or would be misunderstood and misused.  Fisher Ames, author of the House version of the First Amendment observed, “the known propensity of a democracy is toward licentiousness, which the ambitious call and the ignorant believe to be liberty.”

                Those who call for a separation between fiscal and moral issues often do so from a false premise of conflict between economic liberty and public virtue. It is an unnecessary and counterproductive divide that didn’t occur to our founders and still doesn’t among our political opponents working together to radically change America for the worse.

                Reviewing the founders’ full vision may help bridge this divide. Woodrow Wilson’s warning still applies; “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we don’t know where we have come from, or what we have been about.”

 – For more consideration look into “Agenda: Grinding America Down” DVD