The United States of America was the most brilliant star in all the vast field of mankind’s political endeavors. It was tarnished, to be sure. Stained by its inheritance of slavery, diminished by the facts of its westward expansion, guilty—and therefore tarnished—of and by all the mistakes made by anything or anyone as relatively young as it was. But despite being a flawed nation founded and peopled by flawed individuals, it was still the light that burned brightest and, for a brief time, was a beacon for a weary world.
Human civilization existed for millennia without it and will, one must presume, exist for millennia after it. Earth and man will abide. But America died too young and I, for one, will miss it a lot. I already do. As a father I have been unable to fully explain to my own children how special it was to live in the U.S.A. But being unable to articulate how it felt in life, I will try, for their sakes if no one else’s, to recount the conditions of America’s death.
The Cart before the Horse
As of this writing, the United States of America is not yet technically dead. From a grammatical standpoint it might be better to speak of the final demise of the country in the future tense, but from a practical standpoint the plug has already been pulled and we are all just waiting for the heart to stop. There are countless moments, large and small, that led to its final end. There are innumerable dots to connect. I will attempt to connect just a few, but no matter which moments one chooses to focus on, the result is the same. The great experiment is finally over.
To understand how something like the United States of America can be killed, one must first understand what made it alive in the first place; alive as a force, an idea, and a completely unique nation. Of course I am talking about the framing documents, most specifically the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. To kill something utterly, especially something as resilient as a great idea, one must know very precisely where to strike. These documents are where the hammer fell and where it will continue to fall as we watch the last of America’s life run out.
I would propose that to do away with the systems and ideas established in these miraculous documents, one must do away with the documents themselves. Literally burning the original Constitution would do no good: the ideas contained therein would survive intact. To destroy the framing documents one cannot burn them but instead must invalidate them. That is how our nation died.
Let us examine just a few points on history’s long and tragic line.
Joseph McCarthy was the Left’s Best Friend.
Admittedly, Richard Nixon was profoundly helpful to the political left. A paranoid and a liar, Nixon opened the door for the perpetual narrative that right-wing politicians (that is to say exclusively right-wing politicians) were dishonest lawbreakers. While true in Nixon’s case it is also true of a great many leftist leaders. But Nixon was president, was caught, was pardoned (and therefore guilty) and the damage was done. But the damage done was not the worst—not by a long shot.
For the handful of people who have been taught American history, please feel free to skip ahead. For the rest of you, Senator Joseph McCarthy, a Republican, was culturally the central political figure during the “second” cold war effort to stop the spread of communist propaganda, subterfuge, and ideas in the United States. The concern was valid enough. Our literal enemy at the time, the Soviet Union, was undertaking an ideological march across the world and a military creep into Europe. The fear of atomic warfare, quaint sounding to millennials today, was a genuine concern and a real possibility.
The problem with McCarthy was his personality, his methods, and his language. “McCarthyism” quickly came to be defined as using unfair methods and little or improper regard for evidence when making accusations of treason. In the end, it became outright synonymous with conducting a witch hunt. His rhetoric and machinations were ultimately so odious that his entire legacy rightly fell into disgrace. He is remembered as a monster.
So what does this have to do with the end of the nation? Much—because along with throwing out the reeking bathwater of McCarthyism, we threw out the baby that was in it: the legitimate concern that there was a systemic effort to undermine the country and remake it into a hardline leftist regime. The McCarthy legacy was so foul that it became unacceptable to even ponder aloud the questions that gave rise to it in the first place. It helped create the two defining political tenants of the modern age.
First, it became commonplace to dismiss all Republicans as “mean.” Regardless of stated intent, of actions, or of results, the political left now had “proof” that all Republicans were rotten to the core. (This was the narrative during the Reagan years when Republicans won landslide presidential victories, just as in the Obama era when Republicans went years with literally no power at all. It has simply never changed.)
Second, and most damning, it became politically incorrect to examine the motivations of the political left. To do so was to align oneself with someone and something intrinsically monstrous.
The political left must have wept with joy.
What does Karl Marx have to do with baseball?
From the beginning, and right up through my own youth, America loved an underdog.
Let’s face facts: the outcome of the Revolutionary War was far from certain for the colonies. The mighty British Empire was, if one ran the odds, going to make pretty short work of Washington’s forces. But we had guts and we had a righteous cause and we had some lucky breaks. And we won.
And so our national story was founded on the triumph of a David over a Goliath. It became the bedrock of both our history and our mythology. The small and just overcoming the large and unjust – a beautiful story made all the more beautiful because the story was true.
From this foundation, the American promise itself was born. Come to this country. Work hard. Fight the good fight. With a little luck you will end up in a better place that you started no matter who you are. In America, the little guy could win.
Alas it is a fact that, taken in too large a dose, anything can become a poison. Even drinking too much water can poison you. And so taken too far, compulsively siding with the underdog can poison one’s perspectives.
The New York Yankees come to mind.
There have been times in the team’s storied history when they were the most hated team in baseball. Why? Because they win all the time. They have won the American League Pennant 40 times and the World Series 27 times. And whatever skullduggery the management or ownership might be accused of one year or another, the one constant about the team is that they win, win, and win. And unless you are a Yankees fan, that can start to feel unfair.
Which brings us to Karl Marx.
Marx was a 19th century philosopher who argued that all of human society can be boiled down to a class struggle between the few rotten people who own all the means of economic production (and are protected by the state) and the many good people who provided labor, are all dispossessed, and have no real recourse in the natural course of things.
This idea is called Marxism.
It is behind Marx’s most famous work, the Communist Manifesto. It is also behind the rise of the totalitarian regimes of China and the former Soviet Union, as well as similar regimes in a host of other smaller nations. It also caused a fair number of deaths among people who didn’t buy into it.
How many deaths? Here is some perspective. Depending on what history you read, the total death count for the Spanish Inquisition was somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 during its run between 1540 and 1746 (counting the autos da fe). That’s 1,500 humans dead for believing differently. For its prominent role in the atrocity, the Catholic Church lives with the stigma even centuries later.
On the other hand, the deaths under communist regimes in the 20th Century alone are estimated at 80 to 100 million. These are not war casualties – these are just the numbers from mass killing campaigns against those who did not believe or fit in.
It is critical to our understanding that we recognize the alluring quality in a system of economics and governance that, on the surface, celebrates the long-deprived underdog David over the greedy Goliath. It can be attractive to a people who have a cultural memory of being founded on just such a struggle. In other words, anyone who is frustrated that their team can’t beat the Yankees could find a vaguely American-sounding solace in the ideas of communism. Couple this with the reluctance among most people on the political right to sound too heated in speaking out against leftist ideas and subsequently be branded a monster, and the enthusiastic readiness of the left to label their ideological opponents as cruel and evil, and the result was, in hind sight, predictable. Slowly and surely we came to believe, in a plurality, that anyone who wins a lot must be cheating. Because leftist thinking, when packaged with care, sounds fairer.
God’s Place in Man’s Universe
If one listens superficial to communist doctrine, it can not only sound eerily American in spirit but can also sound very Christian in practice. Indeed the redistribution of wealth, to use a contemporary term, is well documented to have been practiced by the early Church. Of course in the early Church it was voluntary. In more recent years, Pope Francis himself has said that Marxists have “stolen our flag.”
The early introduction of practiced communism in the United States manifested itself, among other ways, in the rise of communes, in which the concept of private ownership was abandoned, superficially not unlike the founding days of Christianity.
But in point of fact, one would have some difficulty in locating a functional commune today, particularly one founded in the heady 1960s. But if the early Church did such a thing, how can it be bad? How can it differ?
The practice of Marxism or Communism differs from the practice of the early Church or of any faith-based group by the act of removing God from the human equation altogether. Other things are worshiped, to be sure. The ideology itself becomes something of a religion. Common among the objects of worship, at least in the United States, are the worship of the earth itself as some manner of superior intelligence. This is why we have man-made global warming “deniers.” Think about it.
There is also the worship of the sexual act as something isolated from its (dare we say Darwinian) place as a means of repopulating the species and cementing the lifelong bond (dare we say love) between a woman and a man: the two scientifically different individuals who each poses one half of the only incomplete system in the human body.
True Marxism has no place for anything else but itself as a belief system or the state as an object of worship. To examine the largest concentrations of atheists in the world is to look at a map of current and former communist and socialist countries. Thelma did not thrive in communist China any more than Christianity or Judaism did.
The framers of the constitution, being people of faith, learning, and reason, designed God into those critical documents that would define the United States. Why? They were humble. And they were brilliant. No real democracy or republic in human history ever lasted as long as the United States did. The framers knew that to succeed, the nation needed to be beholden to things finer than the will and character of flawed humans, no matter how noble those humans were. Those finer things were the rule of law and the grace of God. Reverence for a loving God was a critical element in the creation of a system that, when working as designed, protects citizens no matter what they believe. Consider that a country, established in the pursuit of religious freedom, should shed so much precious blood over so many years to protect individual’s rights to believe what they will – even in the evil of religion itself.
The ultimate irony in United States history is that a nation so founded in God and faith saw God and faith become its undoing. Leftism is the rule of the Men of the State, and God is a distraction from that authority. Under that authority, there is no place for God in man’s universe.
It was the very reference to God in our founding that the left used to unmake the founding of the United States.