James Leroy Wilson's blog

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Fight the Latest Evil

Every national political movement, platform, or party must address values of the people around seven broad questions:

1. Foreign policy: the current war, alliances, international organizations, international treaties, trade agreements, addressing current and future “threats.”
2. Personal liberty: 1st Amendment, 2nd Amendment, rights of the accused, terrorism surveillance, vice crime surveillance, electronic and personal privacy, political activity
3. Economy: trade, regulation, monetary policy, fiscal policy, public goods, taxation, vouchers, privatization.
4. Social services: health, education, unemployment insurance, Social Security, and other “safety nets.”
5. National culture: English language, immigration, multiculturalism, “who we are as a people” and whether or not there even IS an “American people” with one history and one destiny. These issues tend to blur and merge with…
6. Structure: centralist/federalist, separation of powers, Constitutional interpretation, judicial review.
7. Moral/religious culture: abortion, recreational drugs, pornography, gay rights, conservative religion vs. secular progressivism.

I listed these in the order of importance as I see them today, though not every single topic within those questions is weighted accordingly (or even mentioned). It is easy to presume that religion and morality is most important; that if you are wrong on these questions, you are wrong on all of the others. I know of some Christian thinkers who seem to make a lot of sense - until they defend the War on Iraq. And I know of some non-religious people who seem to make a lot of sense - until they defend the War on Iraq. Likewise, there are people, Christian and non, who make a lot of sense including their condemnation of the War on Iraq. I would vote for candidates who are right about that, and I don’t care if they think of me either as an ignorant mystic, or as someone whose behavior and belief system will land me in hell.

I tend to believe that if a candidate wants to pull out of Iraq and has a generally good foreign policy view, and who wants to repeal the attack on our freedom from the past four years if not longer, then much of the rest of the program can be up for debate and negotiation. Is it easier to repudiate the Bush Administration than the Roosevelt Administration. One way to “strike the root” of evil is to undermine the legitimacy of the State itself. On the other hand, taking the machete to the branches of evil is, well, easier.

If you were to confess and repent to everyone you have done wrong, will it be best to seek out the most long-ago victims of your wrongs, regardless of expense and effort, or shouldn’t you start with the most recent and perhaps reversible courses of actions? If you “see the light” and decide to correct your mistakes, does it do you well to neglect your wife with whom you quarreled earlier today, in order to find Joe “the Queer” in high school, whom you verbally abused and physically beat up? The scars on Joe may be deeper, and the scars on your own soul may be deeper because of it, than any recent trouble with the spouse. But that’s all the more reason to right the rightable things today, and reverse the damage as you may have done today. You can not really reconcile with Joe the Queer, who may be impossible to locate anyway, before you reconcile with your wife. And the USA can’t solve the enduring problem of American interventionism unless we pull out of Iraq. We will not repeal the War on Drugs before we repeal the Patriot Act. We will not abolish the Fed before we abolish the deficit. We will not restore the 9th and 10th Amendments before getting rid of the National ID; a “Ninth and Tenth Amendment Restoration Act” passed by Congress will be totally Orwellian if it doesn’t at least repeal the National ID. A “Empower State’s Rights Education Act” will be equally Orwellian if it doesn’t repeal the No Child Left Behind Act.

And in that, there is some good news, or at least some hope. If we can successfully reverse the latest federal assault on our liberty, our Constitution, and/or world peace, then we can gather strength to reverse others. It may beyond our grasp to overturn the unfortunate fruits of the Roosevelt, Wilson, Lincoln, or (take your pick) administrations. We will never conquer evil unless we destroy its latest fruits.

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