Are Americans still willing to pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, and oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty? That stirring inaugural covenant from President John F. Kennedy rings down through the years. But it lands upon this present generation no longer as the statement of shared principles that held the country together through thick and thin for two and a half centuries. Instead, it has evolved from the magnum opus of America to a question – one of metaphysical significance, with a distressingly uncertain answer.
Young Americans are indoctrinated into the socialist worldview early and thoroughly, these days, through their two chief sources of information; educational institutions and big media. Having been so relentlessly schooled in the flaws and inequities of this constitutional republic, how many of them are right now willing to go to war against a theoretical enemy with the means, motive, and opportunity to destroy us, in order to defend the same Constitution to which the president and all public officials swear their allegiance? Many would not care to hear the likely answer to that one either.
At the same time, how many among the rising generations would willingly limit the most basic guarantee in the first amendment – freedom of speech? Scattered surveys over these last years have met with a universally disturbing response, laced with a prevailing preference for socialist-inspired exceptions in the case of broadly defined “hate speech.” And this is but the tip of the anti-liberty iceberg.
Perhaps, in our eternal vigilance, girding for one external foe or another against which we must “assure the survival and success of liberty,” we have simply assumed that such foes would come from the outside. But what if that foe is … ourselves?
Equity and Equality are Not Equal
Our shrinking reverence for individual liberty – the cornerstone of the Constitution – is most cleverly and toxically manifested in demands for “equity.” That word sounds good, but in fact, is starkly at odds with what America has always been: an opportunity society. As we have pointed out on the pages of Liberty Nation, equity is entirely distinct from equality. One is organic, the other a product of social engineering because it commands equality of outcome. Such scales of equity can only be balanced by force. And if the Constitution no longer stands as a bulwark against such force, watered down, constantly “reinterpreted” to reflect the mores of the current age, such a “living” Constitution will eventually die on the vine for lack of care and feeding.
How long before the Constitution stands not as it has for centuries, as the most inspired and liberating document ever composed, but as little more than an impediment to a utopian state where true racial justice and equity can be achieved? The critical race theory seeping into every crevice of the woke public education cartel offers a deconstructionist narrative of America founded as a slave state, necessitating endemic white guilt and shame – in the only nation ever to fight a war to abolish slavery. It won’t be long now before today’s youth carry those ideas forward into positions of leadership.
The Founders’ Warnings
In searching for ways to claw back liberty forfeited at the altar of everything from taxes to pandemics, the compact wisdom of not just a former president from our age such as JFK, but two of our most revered founding fathers, rings every bit as true today as when it was first dispensed in days gone by. How ironic it is that, in the age of fingertip access to virtually all the world’s information, we have not gained in true knowledge or wisdom.
John Adams stated, “liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.” But false knowledge – believing you can have freedom without a constitutional order – is worse than none at all. Adams also put in perspective the cost of sustaining freedom: “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.” Does this generation of Americans stand in rightful awe of what was sacrificed on their behalf? The second president issued this exhortation: “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make good use of it.”
Thomas Jefferson’s accumulated sagacity is equal to that of Adams, his longtime nemesis and friend. Our third president and author of the Declaration of Independence dispensed priceless wisdom on the meaning of ordered liberty, and the dangers of a large and powerful state:
“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others … A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned … To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical … I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.”
Jefferson echoed the sentiments of Adams on the crucial question of knowledge: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” And on the question of longevity, Jefferson was unfortunately prescient: “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” Adams believed much the same: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
Is this where our constitutional republic stands today – wasted, exhausted, murdering itself? Rising generations are being steeped in a toxic redefinition of the American story. Such lack of reverence for the heritage and law of any land has always been a certain harbinger of decline. It is only the willingness of tomorrow’s leaders to reject such indoctrination which can prevent the harrowing predictions of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson from coming true.
Read more from Tim Donner.