The winds of national politics are, on the whole, encouraging. The tea parties have forced debate toward government reform–reform intended to make government smaller–even as the Obama administration is determined to expand the administrative state. The tea parties’ influence on the historic 2010 elections forced the administration’s hand by restricting ( I wish I could say “closing”) opportunities toward government expansion, leaving the Progressive Idealogue in Chief to engage his bureaucratic minions to entangle as much commerce, individual liberty, and property rights as possible before November 2012. But the 2012 electorate may be the most informed since the Reagan Revolution of 1980. The future is bleak for progressives on the national scene and President Obama’s desperate rhetoric proves the point. Unfortunately, California and its larger cities, including Riverside, haven’t received the message.
Elsewhere in the country true leaders have risen up to embrace and effect reform. Men and women who have studied history and understand the inescapable, tragic fate of direct democracies, socialism, and kings–lessons given to us by Plato, Socrates, Cato, Cicero, and others have learned, as did our Founding Fathers and Framers of our Constitution, that man is below the angels and above the beasts, giving him a unique place in nature as a creature inclined to sin yet gifted with the ability to reason. They learned these things from John Locke (1632-1704, England) and Charles de Montesque (1689-1755, France) who wrote that because of man’s nature he has rights, and also because of man’s nature those rights need to be protected and that limited and divided government is the best mechanism for that protection. Governor Walker of Wisconsin, former Governor Palin of Alaska, Governor Jindal of Louisiana, and countless other officials of smaller jurisdictions have led the charge by informing themselves, writing down their thoughts, teaching others, and leading the way. These are men (and women) of letters. By this phrase we mean to imply erudition, writing, and teaching, but not snobbery. The person who believes his education and published works elevate him to a better class is automatically stricken from our meaning.
To examine the lives of our Founding Fathers and Framers (not always the same men, though most were contemporaries and many were friends as well as enemies) is to subject oneself to a very useful humiliation. They were men of letters who made God their guide, history their passion, and public service their sacrifice to history’s cause. James Madison (Virginia), Alexander Hamilton (New York), and John Jay (New York) were, of course, the authors of the Federalist papers, which were instrumental in getting the Constitution ratified. But they were able to contribute in such a grand way because they first cradled ancient texts by the soft glow of an oil lamp or candle and spent long hours absorbing and meditating on their meaning. Samuel Huntington (Connecticut, 1731-1796) studied Latin and law on his own, was admitted to the bar, appointed a justice-of-the-peace and eventually was appointed to the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence. Stephen Hopkins (Rhode Island, 1707-1785) had no formal education yet held several increasingly impressive positions as a jurist and eventually signed the Declaration of Independence. George Mason (Virginia, 1725-1792) was a friend and neighbor of George Washington who educated himself, built a distinguished career as a statesman, and wrote Virginia’s first constitution, from which Thomas Jefferson “borrowed” heavily to write the Declaration of Independence. Ethically unwavering, Mason was one of several men who hammered out the terms of the Constitution but refused to sign it since it did not abolish slavery nor provide adequate (in his view) protections for states rights. Mason was instrumental in the drafting of the Bill of Rights.
There are more stories like those above, but these are given simply to illustrate the contrast between the statesmen who launched this great ship of liberty, and the Riverside politicians whose actions endeavor to sink it. Mike Gardener, Andy Melendrez, Rusty Bailey, Chris MacAurthur, Paul Davis, Nancy Hart, and Steve Adams: who among these council members has taken the time to learn of the tragedies of direct democracy, the failings of oligarchies, the vanity and folly of power, and the God-given joy displayed in the natural rights of man? Who among these have set about teaching their constituents that their best days lay ahead, and rest in their hands, when they are unshackled by regulation and unburdened by taxation. Who among these is telling their constituents that the security and joy of their children is determined not by the policies of their officials, but by Christ and His law occupying the moral center of their homes. Where are our men (and women) of letters?