Why ‘progressivism’ is regressive

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, President Calvin Coolidge provided a keystone speech.  He was known as a man of few words,* but the occasion of our nation’s birthday inspired him to pay homage to those who had gone before.  The entire address is worth your time, but this excerpt in particular speaks to today:

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter.

If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.  

Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.     ((Emphasis added)) 

For most of human history, despots and absolute rulers held life-and-death sway over their people, who had little control over their own lives.  When America is referred to as ‘exceptional’ it is in that context, rather than in comparison with contemporary nations (although it often applies there, too).  The Founding generation carefully distilled centuries of human experience into a philosophy of governance that managed to be both idealistic and pragmatic at the same time.  They recognized the dignity of the individual as a creation of God, yet also allowed for the fact we are fallen in nature and prone to abuse our authorities.  As James Madison, chief architect of the Constitution put it:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

Those who want a ‘living Constitution’ they can warp to the whims of the times forget how carefully its systems of checks and balances was forged.  The chains they placed on Leviathan have been weakened over the generations by tinkerers and would-be tyrants.  The recycling of old ideas as “new” has not improved our charter, for truly, “there is nothing new under the sun.”  Rather, it’s demonstrated the wisdom and foresight of those who crafted it.  As the title quote for this blog suggests, we are on a wrong road.  To truly be ‘progressive,’ we need to turn back and get onto the right road.

(*) A female visitor to the White House once approached Coolidge to inform him she’d made a wager she could get him to say more than two words.  “You lose,” was Coolidge’s reply.

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A turning of the tide?

Leftists are in full meltdown over the announcement Justice Anthony Kennedy will step down from the Supreme Court July 31. This action provides President Trump an opportunity to nominate yet another Constitutionalist like Neil Gorsuch to the court. Should Trump serve two full terms, it is likely he will nominate the replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg as well.

The enemies of our Constitutional system are in abject terror over the possibility, now increased, the Court will undo decades of judicial activism. Unable to enact their agenda through the ballot box, the Left sought to impose it instead by abusive judicial fiat. But just as unconstitutional executive orders by Obama could be undone by corrective orders from Trump, the shredding of the Constitution can be reversed by a Supreme Court made up of Justices who respect it.  The impact of these nominations on the next 20 to 30 years cannot be overstated.  It’s vital to elect America First Constitutionalists (sadly, only a subset of the GOP) this fall, and ensure Trump’s reelection in 2020.  Things are going well for patriots lately, but as Glenn Reynolds frequently channels Han Solo, “don’t get cocky, kid.”

On other fronts:

-The Supreme Court, even with Justice Kennedy still on it, has issued a couple of key rulings, freeing pro-life crisis pregnancy centers from being forced to provide information on how to obtain an abortion, and denying unions the ability to force payments from non-members (which usually ends up in liberal political campaigns).

– The reputation of the FBI is hardly helped when Peter Strzok answers a Congressional subpoena to testify in a classified forum, but reportedly refuses to answer the most germane questions by claiming “it’s classified” or declining to answer “on advice of counsel.”  What are the FBI’s lawyers encouraging him to continue hiding?

– A former Hillary 2016 Campaign officer has been indicted for soliciting sexual access to children as young as two years old.  And from the “you can’t make this up” files, he was also chairman of the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict charity.  As they say, fishermen go where the fish are.

– Without Obama propping them up with pallets of cash, the Iranian regime is suddenly experiencing a popular backlash again.  The previous administration’s failure to support Iranian dissidents was inexcusable.  Worth noting: “Q” indicated a week ago Iran was about to get interesting again… another tick of credibility for those keeping score.

– The GOP seems to have a few more members with spines lately, as the latest attempt to pass an amnesty for illegal immigrants has been soundly defeated.  Eternal vigilance is required on this issue, however.

Keep praying hard!  If God can resurrect His Son or an army of dry bones, He can certainly revive our nation!  Let’s seek daily to have our nation bless Him, that He may show favor to us even at this late hour.

The last peaceful option?

The current polarization in this country is unique in our history.  There is little (if any) common ground between viewpoints, and both “left” and “right” (increasingly nebulous terms) see the other as completely illegitimate and a threat.  Thus the “culture wars” of the 1980s/1990s have become much, much more, and are being played for complete national dominance.  Twitter, like Facebook, Google/YouTube, etc, is clearly putting its technological thumb on the scale of public debate, finding various ways to mute nationalist/conservative voices.  So it was no surprise to see Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, recommend this article extolling the perceived virtue of California’s one-party rule.

The next time you call for bipartisan cooperation in America and long for Republicans and Democrats to work side by side, stop it. Remember the great lesson of California, the harbinger of America’s political future, and realize that today such bipartisan cooperation simply can’t get done.

And as voices including that of a former Supreme Court justice clamor to rescind the 2nd Amendment, those who value freedom are having to consider their options:

South Carolina Republicans have introduced a bill that would give the state capital the power to secede from the United States if the federal government violates the Second Amendment and begins seizing legally purchased guns.

With passions running high on both sides, firearms are just one of many different triggers (pardon the pun) that could turn our current cold civil war into a hot one.  The continuing politicized effort to overturn the 2016 presidential election through a farcical investigation could spark partisan violence at any time.  One side is convinced beyond persuasion that Trump is an illegitimate president, while the other is equally convinced our government has become corrupted to partisan purposes.  Those of us who hope the election of Trump might harbinger a restoration of sorts still have to be concerned that roughly half our fellow citizens would overturn any progress in the very next election if they can.  That’s why it might be better for all concerned if we found a peaceful way to divide the country so that each group can live as they choose (and reap the consequences and benefits thereof):

It is long past time for an amicable divorce of the United States of America. There is simply no common ground with the Left anymore. We are now the couple screaming at each other all night, every night as the kids hide in their room…  ((an apt metaphor… Jemison))

The history of the world is nations breaking up and redrawing their borders. If we want to avoid this political divide turning into a deadly one, we should do likewise.
Stop clinging to the past and acknowledge where we are as a country, not where you want us to be, not where things were when your grandpa was storming the beaches of Normandy. Where we truly are

The GOP has many problems, but the Democratic Party has turned into something completely un-American. The United States was founded on two things: Judeo-Christian values and a limited federal government. The entire platform of modern Democrats stands completely opposite both of those…

This idea of breaking up the country may seem a bit outlandish now, but you won’t think so once real domestic unrest comes to your town. Our political disagreements have become a powder keg, one that already would have blown if conservatives had liberals’ emotional instability.

Nobody is expected to cheer for this split. Cheering is not a normal reaction when couples get a divorce. We cheer for old married people on their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

But life is imperfect. Life is hard. We both now agree that living under the other side’s value system is wholly unacceptable. The most peaceful solution we Americans can hope for now is to go our separate ways. So let us come together one last time and agree on one thing: Irreconcilable differences.

I spent 24 years wearing a uniform on behalf of this nation.  No one would be sadder than me to see it disbanded into successor states.  The diminution of the United States would be a global disaster.  But it is still preferable to the carnage that will result if we have two incompatible worldviews continue to vie for dominance over a divided population.  A substantial portion of our people now neither understands nor desires true freedom.  As Sam Adams said, may history forget they were our countrymen.

It is far better that part of our nation remains free to continue the vision of limited, Constitutional governance in accordance with Christian principles than to see the whole of it subsumed by both alien populations and alien ideas.   

A spineless Congress

It’s no wonder Americans have such a low regard for Congress, when government officials are allowed to thumb their noses at it with impunity.  In recent memory the worst sanction the legislature has given to a recalcitrant official has been to hold Eric Holder in “contempt of Congress” — the first sitting Attorney General ever to be so designated.  That only has effect if the target has any sense of shame, which few in D.C. Mordor do anymore.  Official designation or not, it’s clear much of official Washington shares that contempt.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s no coincidence that defiance from Holder, Lerner, Rosenstein and Wray parallels the public’s near-record low approval of Congress, which, according to the RealClearPolitics average, hit a meager 14.2 percent earlier this week.

But Congress has only itself to blame because the Constitution gives the first branch it created “all of the ultimate weapons in any showdown with either of the other two branches,” in the memorable phrasing of professors Willmoore Kendall and George Carey in their classic “The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition.”

Here are five of those “ultimate weapons,” whose deployment ultimately depends on the will of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to defend the right of Congress to be the people’s representatives…

Put somebody in jail.

Impose a big fine.

Invoke the power of the purse

Cut the workforce.

More political appointees.

It’s worth reading the description of these five options at the link.  Despite the frequency of choreographed televised hearings, Congress has largely abdicated its oversight role with regard to the Federal bureaucracy.  This was apparent at least by the time of the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal and the IRS investigations, during which the agencies slow-rolled Congress’ requests for information with impunity.  True oversight involves exercising the power to compel compliance.  The Founders intended the legislature to be “first among equals” within the branches of government.  They, not unelected paper-pushers, represent the people.

The president has less power than people imagine over employees in the Executive Branch.  While he can fire political appointees, career bureaucrats have created a byzantine disciplinary process that, in effect, prevents nearly anyone from losing their job.  I encountered this while supervising relatively low-level “civil servants” — I can only imagine how much more difficult things are in the executive suites.

With a majority in Congress, however, it should be a simple thing to put entire departments like the FBI on notice: comply with legislative directives and requests, or perish as an agency.  Congress can defund any activity of the government with a simple vote.  Unfortunately, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have shown zero interest in actually asserting Congress’ prerogatives.  They are as much a part of the swamp as the agencies running amok, as the recent omnibus bill debacle shows.  That should be a key issue during these midterms — voters need to seek candidates who will support Trump’s “swamp draining,” and that includes pledging to vote in new Congressional leadership.

But for any of this to happen, We the People will need to be more focused than ever this election cycle.  The election of Trump will accomplish little if voters allow the legislature to defend the status quo by resolute inaction.

Open insurrection

There is a strong argument to be made the Trump Administration could declare both California and Illinois to be in a state of insurrection and respond with the authority such a condition conveys:

Mark the date April 1, 2018, April Fool’s Day, as the day Civil War 2.0 began. On that day, the State of California began to automatically register illegal aliens who have driver licenses to vote. This new law immunizes illegals against any state criminal penalty for registering and voting.

And in Chicago:

Municipal ID cards that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is launching for undocumented immigrants and others will be a valid form of identification for people both registering to vote and voting in Chicago, according to a letter aldermen received…

Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution requires the Federal government to “guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion…”  The facilitation by Gov. Jerry Brown of California and Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel of illegal immigrants settling and voting in the United States undermines our republican form of government and constitutes an invasion (even if unarmed).  U.S. citizens in California and Chicago have seen and continue to see their voices diluted by interlopers on U.S. soil – and they are not alone in suffering that loss.

It’s abundantly clear we have State and local leaders engaging in a slow-motion insurrection by demographics, by which they mean to fundamentally transform the United States.  They aren’t even pretending to hide it anymore, either.  As I write this, more than 1,200 additional invaders continue to move north through Mexico, bringing yet another very public challenge to U.S. sovereignty and authority.  No doubt the Democrats and media (but I repeat myself…) will do all they can to facilitate these people’s entry into the country.  After all, Democrats can’t even be bothered to do background checks of their own information technologists!

THIS. MUST. STOP.

The President is not able, on his own, to fully address these issues, and the GOPe has shown little interest in aiding him in Congress.  The American people — the legally valid American people — must demand the following of their Congresscritters:

  • As recommended in the first link in this post, refuse to seat any Senator or Congressman elected from California and Illinois until the programs above are terminated and the voting rolls confirmed by the Department of Justice to be purged of illegal aliens.
  • Authorize suspension or repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act in a manner that allows U.S. military forces to patrol the nation’s borders and detain/process individuals attempting to cross it illegally.  While it is understandable the Act is intended to prevent abuse of martial law, it unnecessarily prevents the military from performing its fundamental purpose: the defense of the United States.  Using the military for this primary purpose would free up manpower/resources of Homeland Security (Immigration/Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol) to seek out, detain and deport more illegal aliens already within the United States.
  • Explicitly declare via Congressional resolution that all “sanctuary State/city” policies as null and void usurpations of Federal authority under the Constitution, and direct the Department of Justice to begin arrests and legal proceedings against any State/local official found to be willfully aiding illegal immigrants in avoiding detection and deportation.
  • Institute serious penalties for repeatedly entering the U.S. without authorization.  It is ridiculous that so many illegal immigrants are arrested for serious crimes after multiple reentries into the U.S.  As I’ve suggested before, all illegal immigrants should have complete biometric profiles entered into federal records before deportation.  Upon a second offense, a distinctive tattoo should be placed on their hand or forearm.  And upon a third offense, they should be subject to the death penalty as invaders.  Yes, these are harsh and unyielding standards.  Kicking the can this far down the road leaves little room for half-measures, however.

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln (who himself was paraphrasing scripture), this nation cannot much longer endure half Constitutionalist and half defiant fifth column.  Liberals are counting on the power they’ve already achieved through decades of demographic manipulation and undermining of immigration law.  But there are still enough concerned traditional Americans (of all ethnicities) to have elected Trump.  If we cannot muster the willpower and Federal resolve to take the measures above it will not be much longer, I fear, before the Union will be dissolved of irreconcilable differences.  The only question at that point will be whether the divorce will be amicable or contested.

History shows the latter to be a tragically expensive option.  That is why serious brakes need to be applied now, via strong Federal responses to the provocations above.

What frightens the Left

Today’s recommended read:

Their latest conniption fit has come over two apparently unrelated things. The first, of course, is guns and by extension the right to one’s own personal self-defense in a dangerous and (thanks to the second thing, about which more in a bit) rapidly destabilizing world. …

The Left—which is by turns both malevolent and cowardly, and therefore both tantalized by and fearful of firearms—has never made its hostility toward the Second Amendment a secret, but for decades it was able to keep it under wraps during the half-century or more between the effective closing of the borders to immigration in 1921 and the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, known as the Hart-Celler Act but today chiefly remembered as Ted Kennedy’s lasting gift to the American people. …

Which brings us to the cause of their second recent nervous breakdown: the Trump Administration’s decision to reinstate a question about citizenship on the 2020 census form. The movement against it is being led by former attorney general Eric Holder, the knave who was held in contempt of Congress over the Obama administration’s “Fast and Furious” gun-running program to Mexico, and is an unrepentant radical.

“The addition of a citizenship question to the census questionnaire is a direct attack on our representative democracy,” said Holder, announcing a lawsuit. …

On the contrary, this question goes directly to the substance of our representative democracy by acknowledging the difference between citizens and non-citizens, a crucial distinction the Left is trying mightily to erase—and not just because the Democrats stand to benefit from the addition of millions of new dependent and culturally hostile voters.

No, it goes far deeper than that…

As Glenn Reynolds would say, read the whole thing.

The Constitution of the United States stands athwart the vision of the Left, and for that reason they undermine, vilify, circumvent and ignore it wherever they are permitted.  What they fear is a public fully aware of how that document works, why it’s set up the way it is, and willing to hold officials accountable to it.

Be that public.

They don’t really represent “us”

Congress has become a place where people entrench themselves practically for life, clinging to power without regard for the actual job of representing their constituents:

PHOENIX — Meghan McCain says she’s “cautiously optimistic” that Sen. John McCain could return to Washington by the summer.

The 81-year-old Republican senator has been battling a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma. He was diagnosed last summer.

John McCain was hospitalized and treated for a viral infection in December. He has remained at his family’s ranch near Sedona to undergo chemotherapy and physical therapy since mid-December.

The senator had initially expected to return to Washington in January, but was unable to do so.

So for six months–maybe even more–the people of Arizona will only have half the representation in the Senate that is prescribed under the Constitution.  Of course, even when McCain is present in the Senate, one could hardly call his recent track record properly Republican.

Whatever his past services to the nation, John McCain is clearly seriously ill, and unable to perform the duties of an elected representative.  I wish him only well as he and his family battle the common scourge of cancer.  But a true public servant would recognize his inability to perform his duties and step aside.  We have precious few of those in office these days.  Instead, we have the image of an elderly politico clutching hold of his power even as he tries to cling to life, as though he’s permanently entitled to either.

Membership in Congress has become a sort of nobility in America, even to the point of attempts to maintain “dynasties.”  Of the current 50 senators, 18 have been in office since the Bill Clinton Administration, and the most senior senator–Patrick Leahy of Vermont–entered the body six years before Ronald Reagan became president in 1981.  McCain, a one-time candidate for president, currently is the 7th longest serving senator.

Before the “progressives” added the 17th Amendment, Senators were appointed by State legislatures, not by direct election.  I suspect if we reverted back to the original intentions of the Founders, it would be far easier for Arizona to tell McCain to focus on his health while another is sent to represent the State’s interests in D.C. Mordor.

I’ve said before we have to stop enabling careerism in politics.  No politician should be able to simultaneously run for higher office and reelection to his current seat (thus forcing the taxpayer expense of a special election if “promoted.”)  Politicians should not be able to shop around for a favorable district just by maintaining a second (or third…) home there. I’d even be in favor of allowing States to mandate their senators be drawn only from native-born residents.  Most importantly, Congress should only meet a limited period each year, forced to get the essentials done (like, say, passing a budget on time), then return to their constituencies.  By roosting in Mordor with others like them, it’s far to easy to become self-important and isolated from the people they supposedly serve.

The Greek historian Thucydides once said “of all the manifestations of power, restraint impresses men the most.”  I’d offer a corollary to that: nothing becomes a statesman more than the willingness to relinquish power.  That was the essential difference between George Washington and King George III.  We need to regain that sense of civic mindedness.