by Robert Arvay
America has always had cultural struggles. Our very beginning as a nation resulted from a political dispute with Great Britain that was not merely political and economic, but also, to a large extent, cultural and philosophic. While the American Founders held certain “truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,” the British had a very different view, which held that kings have a “divine right of rule,” and that the general public must always obey the king.
Perhaps our most monumental cultural war was over slavery, an issue that divided the nation for decades, even before the Civil War began.
With the Great Depression of the 1930s, The “New Deal” policies of President FD Roosevelt introduced a more subtle, but very insidious element into the culture war, the idea that the free market has inherent flaws that can only be corrected by major interventions by a powerful, centralized government.
The final events of the culture war to be mentioned in this commentary concern the so-called “sexual revolution” of the 1960s. These events cracked the foundations of the nation’s family values, undermining the position of marriage in our society.
There we have it. There can be no doubt that the cultural values of our nation today are a far cry from those of 1776. And the divide is only increasing. Let us be clear that this is no minor dispute over any single issue. While most Americans are united on many major ideas, such as racial justice and women’s equality, the ideas that separate us into basically two opposing camps, (often labeled as liberal and conservative), are crucial to the direction our nation will take. While we can put some of these conflicting ideas aside for a time, as we did for slavery, the issues are too vital to be put off forever. There must come a time when we choose. That time will soon be upon us.
The trigger for the latest round of the culture wars was the election of President Barak Obama. His presidency can reasonably be seen as the product of the culture wars, and just as reasonably, an acceleration of that conflict. His racial identity has been a major factor in his support, and was at first seen as evidence that the nation has healed its racial divisions. But in fact, nearly half of all those who voted for him based their decision in large part, even primarily, on his racial identity. And while many people probably opposed him for racist reasons, Obama’s economic views were clearly the case against him upon which McCain founded his campaign.
But having said all this, what role can (and indeed must) you and I play? Will it be enough to simply vote for conservatives? What will happen once those conservatives take office? Will they be able to reverse the deeply entrenched policies of FDR, LBJ and BHO?
I believe that the first step in restoring Constitutional government to the nation is to understand that the Constitution is not culture-neutral. It never has been. Our basic governing document could never have arisen in the context of any culture but that of the early Americans. The Arabia of 1776 to the present could not possibly have produced it. Nor could India, China, nor for that matter, even France or England. It is uniquely American.
Opponents of conservative cultural values often point out that the Constitution steers away from religious or philosophical questions. But that argument is disingenuous. The religious and philosophical views of the Founders are deeply embedded in all of our founding documents. There was no need for them to delve into specific details, because their overarching cultural values gave rise to the Constitution, and therefore could not become a product of it.
John Adams, one of the Founders, made this concept crystal clear when he famously said,
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
In other words, we could impose our Constitution on a foreign nation, and it would be wasted, unless the cultural values of the American Founders were also accepted by that nation. Likewise, if we ourselves abandon those moral values, we will lose all the benefits of our Constitution, including freedom.
As a nation, we have already abandoned many of the cultural and moral principles which gave rise to the Constitution, and which alone can sustain it. How can we reverse that?
We do not have a specific, enumerated Constitutional method of enforcing cultural values. Some oppressive nations do have a culture police, with the authority to enforce subjective values, such as dress codes, public displays of affection, and other rules difficult to define in legal terms.
Indeed, the danger we face is not the lack of a culture police, but quite the contrary, the emergence of precisely such a force from the political left. The term, “political correctness,” is often used to describe the enforcement of so-called liberal values by various means, including intimidation and un-Constitutional laws.
It is because of political correctness, that there is now greater freedom of speech for pornographers than for political action committees. The intent of the Founders regarding the First Amendment has been turned upside down and backward.
So what can we do?
The Tenth Amendment offers our greatest, and perhaps most neglected hope. It states, and I quote it in full,
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
But the Congress and the Courts have veered away from that critical capstone of the Bill of Rights. Enforcement of the Tenth Amendment is unlikely to come from the federal government, since the amendment strictly limits the federal government. It must come from the states, and from the people, to whom belong all powers— except for those specifically enumerated in the Constitution as being federal. It is at the state level that we as voters must elect legislators and governors who will decisively reject federal over-reach.
Remember, the states created the federal government, and not the other way around. The federal government is only an instrument of the states, not their colonial master. We certainly do need a federal government, but only for the few, specific functions mentioned explicitly in the Constitution. The “general welfare” clause does not negate those vital limitations on federal power.
You cannot force other people to live according to any set of cultural values. We must not create culture police forces. But through our laws, we can refuse to offer aid, support and financing to abortionists, homosexual activists, radical Islamists, pornographers, and others whom the Founders would clearly have denounced as destructive forces within our society.
Finally, there is this critical thing that you must do as a patriot. You must live your own personal life as one of those “moral and religious people” whom John Adams identified as being those for whom our Constitution was made. After all, “It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”