Valuing liberty was not a passing fashion 2

Liberty was not a fad.

Nor were honor, courage, and competence.

But their enduring value is being questioned, somewhat surprisingly by a writer at American Greatness.

American Greatness is a very good website. Articles by such erudite thinkers as Victor Davis Hanson, Roger Kimball, Conrad Black are often posted there. Opinion is conservative – though what conservatism is and should be in these troubled times is earnestly debated.

Recently, in an article titled Living in Another Time and Place, Max Morton expressed the view that conservative values must change to fit the times.

He writes:

The current batch of generals and national security bureaucrats are neither competent nor honorable, certainly not courageous, and America would be better off without the lot of them. Amazingly, shouting “Have you no shame?” in the halls of Congress doesn’t make them want to resign their prized sinecures.

How did we get to the point where the worst among us are now leading us? It is because we, as a nation, failed to hold our elected officials accountable for the state of our government and its institutions.

We assumed (Morton thinks)that our military’s generals and civilian leaders were honorable. But they are not. “We don’t live in that world anymore,” he writes.

Our understanding is that America is a constitutional republic, founded in democratic principles, with a representative government by and for the people. We have been told—or have at some point assumed—that our bureaucratic officials work for the good of the nation and are accountable to the people via our elected representatives. We were led to believe that our originally designed system of checks and balances was a guard against the tyranny that tempts human kind. All of this was true . . . at some point. In other words, this was once a valid American construct.

But he surely cannot mean that something was true only for a time and then stopped being true; he means, and goes on to explain, that a system can work for a time and then not work as it had done.

Pedro Gonzalez, a frequent contributor to American Greatness, wrote in his essay Middle America’s Road to Power: “A fundamental problem with conservatism is that it reflexively seeks to conserve institutions that either don’t exist anymore, or which have been perverted to become hostile to the right.” Gonzalez’s words are the perfect description of the problem of an obsolete construct.

Traditional America is mired in an obsolete construct due to our failure to observe certain substantial changes in our political and cultural environment.  Processing these types of changes is difficult for most people.

Inevitable changes? Impossible to reverse or reform? Changes we must accept? And that’s difficult for most of us (though not for him)?

As examples of such changes he cites the villainy of the FBI and the Department of Justice. The FBI, once trusted to enforce the law, has been caught “framing Trump officials, lying under oath to Congress, falsifying FISA warrants, and generally acting like a corrupt secret police outfit”. And the DOJ, “responsible for oversight of the FBI”, let it all happen and did nothing. And “Trump supporters,” he observes, “couldn’t process the fact that something so foundational to their belief system (the integrity of federal law enforcement) had so significantly changed.”

“Process” it? Or accept that it must be so?

Must we accept that the FBI from now on will be corrupt, and the DOJ will allow, approve of, connive at its corruption?

Many in conservative and traditional America are still arguing and debating “the facts” thinking the other side will listen or care about them and that, this time, they’re going to change minds. Some, still yearning for the old bipartisanship, can’t see that in the construct of present-day America, classical liberalism is dead.

To deal with the dilemmas we now face, we must transport ourselves out of our obsolete construct and into the reality of the moment. We must see the world for what it truly is. We must know both our enemy and ourselves, where we are and where we are going.

We can no longer complain that the other side is not playing by a rulebook they discarded long ago, but to which we still irrationally cling. Instead, we should determine what we stand for, what we want our future to look like, and plot a course to that future understanding, anticipating the resistance we will face along that path. Our road to victory starts when we can see that truth, join with our fellow like-minded citizens and face forward towards the imminent struggle ahead.

“They” discarded the old rulebook, so we must discard it too, conserving nothing? And put what in its place?

Struggle how? Not with integrity? Not with honor, courage, competence? (Surely not with deception, dishonor, cowardice, incompetence?)

Under what system if not one of accountability, with checks and balances to guard against tyranny?

To what goal if not liberty?

If there are better values, what are they? If there can be new kinds of institutions to enforce the law, describe them.

If there can be a better system than that laid down by the Constitution of the United States, what is it?

Posted under liberty, US Constitution by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, October 5, 2021

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