Saturday, August 25, 2012

Getting great names in the ballot-box

A Buss and Shackelford study claimed that 30 to 60 percent of all married individuals have, at one time, engaged in infidelity. As with celebrities, politicians are the cream of the crop when it comes to relaxing moral standards. Some members of the media would have us believe that the adultery rate is even higher than 60 percent among U.S. congressman. Perhaps this is why term limits are so unpopular on Capitol Hill. Going to Washington D.C. is like going to college.

Unfortunately, the moral integrity of politicians rarely rises above the citizenry. Indeed, men and women who occupy the offices of civil authority are but a mirror of the people who put them there. However, every now and then a political ruler does rise up above the popular tone of character and virtue. This happens especially during times of national distress or even danger. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1835, after having visited America, that people have a knack for finding men who might save them when their nation’s survival is at stake. He said,

“When a State is threatened by serious dangers, the people frequently succeeds in selecting its citizens who are the most able to save it. It has been observed that man rarely retains his customary level in the presence of very critical circumstances; he rises above or sinks below his usual condition, and the same thing occurs in nations at large…At those dangerous times genius no longer abstains from presenting itself in the arena; and the people, alarmed at the perils its situation, buries its envious passions in short oblivion. Great names may be then drawn from the ballot-box.”

In 1831-32, when Tocqueville visited America, he noted that the political leaders of that time period hardly compared to the Founder Fathers of 1776. After all, fifty years prior to his visit, the nation’s independence was at stake. As of 2012, however, the American people have yet to arrive at the critical realization Tocqueville refers to. That is to say, even though the United States of America is at a critical juncture in her history, we have yet to “rise above our usual condition.” Although Americans have selected some men and women of genius and of character, more great names are needed in the ballot-box.

Yet, this is where the Catholic Church comes in...or can come in. As it stands, she can begin by teaching her own- churchgoers in the pew -about how socially liberally values (especially when embraced by their leaders), such as the practice of adultery, inevitably leads to public policies that are hostile to liberty and prosperity. There is a great need for the ministry of teaching about the relationship between religion, morality and freedom. Tocqueville said, “Religion is no less the companion of liberty in all of its battles and triumphs; the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims. The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law and the surest pledge of freedom.” If the American people are not comfortable with electing leaders who openly favor the virtue of chastity, who oppose same-sex marriage and who condemn, unequivocally, the practice of abortion, then our nation will conform itself to the likeness of Detroit.

Given the clear situation of Detroit, it is a true marvel that its people put into office- over and over and over again –political leaders who run that city into the ground. It is even more curious that citizens of Detroit have not understood that those very politicians who would undermine marriages and families with their socially liberal values also chip away at the city’s prosperity with their public policies. Moral or social values cannot be separated from the dismal political policies that are sure to follow. Detroit is America’s future if the Church does not assume an active role in teaching about the relationship between religion, morality and freedom. Only by doing this can "great names can be drawn from the ballot-box."

I'll leave the reader with these sobering statistics. According to Mike Brownfield at The Foundry, “The once-great city lost 237,493 residents over the last decade according to the 2010 Census, bringing it to 713,777 – a population plunge of 25%. That’s its lowest population since 1910, and it marks the city’s fall from a 1950s peak of two million, over 60%. And that’s just the people who can afford to leave.” William McGurn of The Wall Street Journal writes: “Michigan today is not a struggling state like California or New Jersey or even Wisconsin. It is a basket case, with worse to come if things do not change quickly—especially in the relation of the public to the private sector.”