Greatness? Again?? July 29, 2016Posted by stevekerp in Uncategorized.
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I’m thinking of this “make America great again” theme that Trump et al are using to slogan their way through the campaign… etc. etc.
A few off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts: first, that this presumes 1) that America was great at one time, and 2) that America is not great now, and 3) that there is some sort of metric for measuring “greatness.”
We have a lot of ideas about what America should be like — not all the same. The political Left seems to have a vision for American “greatness” that incorporates a vision of “great” that probably hasn’t been seen since the collapse of the Roman Empire, or perhaps Sodom and Gomorrah. But some on the other side of the table may have equally unrealistic or undesirable views.
I would submit that America cannot be “great” in any sense, unless Americans are “great” in the same sense. The streets used to be safe, not because “America” was great in some abstract sense, but because American people were safe people, good people, decent people. Industry works well in an honest culture. It begins to collapse when people can’t trust each other any more. Corporations are not moral or immoral. “It’s the people, stupid,” to almost-quote the Clintonistas of the 1990s. RICO was passed to fight “organized crime” but was used (until 2006) to harass pro-lifers and protect abortionists. Immoral people use laws – even “good” laws — to promote immorality. In a moral culture, pro-life protesters would be unnecessary because abortion “clinics” would not exist. Great people don’t murder babies, or anyone else, for that matter. Roe v Wade is not the problem, because in a “great” country, abortion is unthinkable. That’s just one of many, many examples.
A well-known quote, attributed to Alexis de Toqueville but probably written in 1941, connects America’s greatness to her fundamental goodness:
Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.
Flaming pulpits aside, can a country be “great” with it’s pants on the ground? When sodomy and promiscuity are viewed as rights, and speaking against those “rights” is a crime? How much TV fare portrays immoral behavior? Would moral people — “great” people — watch immorality for entertainment???
Can we build “great” Americans with an anti-Biblical culture, an anti-Biblical legal system, and an anti-Biblical school system? Can we have a “great” country or a healthy economy with a squalid culture?
I don’t think so. Not too long ago, this would have been a no-brainer. Today, some folks need to think about it.
If Trump is elected, will he work to make it legal to be a “great” American? How much is Trump willing to frustrate the “People for the American Way” and the ACLU? Will he tell his DOJ to quit harassing Christians in the culture? Does Mr. Trump understand that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people“?
I hope so, but I’m inclined to think that the Republicans are, once again, using comfortable-sounding rhetoric to appeal for political support, and the “vision” of making America great again is not a goal or even a pipe-dream. It’s the cheese in the trap that will cause the American “mouse” to realize he’s been snookered… again. Then we will begin pining for 2020 when a fresh batch of candidates will take us through this waltz one more time.
Hope in ANY “political savior” to fix the country and make us “great” is a misplaced hope. We should certainly hope that Mr. Trump, if elected, will simply be a strict-constructionist Constitutionalist. But let’s be clear: the task of returning to greatness lies with us. WE need to become “great people” — and only when we become so will America return to greatness. The key to greatness is not in civil government. It is in Christian discipline. We must dare to be bold — to be “great” — for the kingdom of Christ. There is simply no other way.