Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Ides of the American Republic

Roman Republicans understood that Caesar was the problem, but the mob in the
end brought down the Republic and gave themselves an Emperor anyway.

A lot of conservatives, especially the stubborn constitutionalists in the group keep reminding us all that we are a republic and not a democracy.
Trouble is they do it on conservative websites where we already know that. I think everyone on the conservative side gets it that we are a Republic. We've talked about it enough. There's not a need to harp on that and nitpick at words of commentators who casually use the term democracy in commentaries. The real need just now is not to convince ourselves, but to convince the mob of the value of a Republic at a time, when the mob is clamoring for an emperor to rule them.

We are, in fact, a democratic republic (not the socialist kind, but the real kind). Such a structure protects us from mob rule as the founders of our nation intended. That said, we are also a democracy in the sense of one man/one vote. We are the opposite of an aristocracy, even though aristocracies may allow folk to vote.  That distinction should be made very clear so long as we are nit-picking. You can have a Republic of aristocrats as well as the democratic sort. In an aristocratic Republic, some men are worth more than others. It was one of the great flaws of the Roman Republic and it is one of the great flaws we have seen in the Republican Party of late.

Unfortunately, for the founding fathers to make this country work, they had to accept a more egalitarian to be sure, yet still a kind of class-based republicanism, in which slaves and women were not allowed to vote or were only counted as 3/5ths of a person. We were, at first, very much a nation of white males.The founders were, however, wise enough to build into the Constitution what Confederate VP Alexander Stephens called "the seeds of the destruction of our peculiar institution". He was referring, of course, to slavery, but I would argue that the founders also built into the Constitution an innate antagonism to any form of inequality. In doing so, the founders inevitably triggered societal changes that led to the emancipation of women and slaves, civil rights for all, fair treatment of native Americans and free market capitalism.

The elitist faction of our country have never been entirely comfortable with a government of the people, by the people and for the people. They've always seen themselves as a kind of American nobility and have always fought the tsunami of freedom initiated by the Constitution and Bill of Rights in one manner or another in an attempt to secure their positions at the head of society.  Along the way they clung to slavery, glommed onto Darwinism, eugenics and socialism, passed Jim Crow laws and used media as a social engineering tool to secure the place of our betters (themselves). The saw their rightful place in the world as at the top and have used wealth, influence and education to secure that position. It's not accidental that the first feature film, Birth of a Nation, glorifies the Ku Klux Klan. Propaganda got an early start as an art form in all media.

And always the Constitution and the people (whom the government is of and by) have pushed back. In large part this has been due to the teaching of the Constitution's values to children in school. Inculcating the idea that all men are created equal has had a powerful effect and is the secret to America's success and longevity. It's not surprising, then, that there has been such a powerful effort to rewrite history as taught in school and to downplay the importance of the very document that made this nation the first bastion of true freedom in the world.

Of course, the elitist new nobility had to stop that sort of nonsense. The lower classes might be taught to believe they were as good as the upper classes in America and they could not have that. So now we teach our kids to admire wealth and celebrity instead of courage and good behavior. We've taught our kids to laugh at the Horatio Alger stories, to deride moral courage and altruism and to sneer at the founders of our nation, criticizing them for the very sins their work helped our nation to eventually overcome and reject. Then they taught our children that there is no such thing as sin. And mind you that the organizations and individuals who now undeservedly claim the moral high ground are the very ones who throughout our nation's history who have defended the sins they now claim to abhor.

I do believe the battle has come to a head in this election where we have a choice between an outright socialist and an outright crony capitalist (which is itself little more than a corporate welfare state). Now, in this election we find out whether the more "democratic" American Republic has more backbone than the old class-based Roman Republic. Will we choose an emperor or will we, as the wife of the last great president of the United States once advised, "Just say NO!". 

Sadly, even if the Republican leadership does manage somehow to assassinate the disaster that is the Trump candidacy, we've already seen how this works out before. For every Julius there is an Augustus elevated by the mob, followed by a Tiberius, then a Caligula, a Claudius and then a Nero, followed by flames as the last of the Old Republic goes up in smoke. People say God's will will inevitably be worked out. Best hope His will doesn't include America going up in flames.

There is an ancient Chinese curse that goes, "May you live in interesting times."  Well this next few yours should certainly be interesting.

© 2016 by Tom King

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Republic is Falling. Babylon is next.

So I think I'll just sit back and watch Hillary and The Donald destroy each other
. They've canceled another of my favorite TV shows in favor of ANOTHER "reality" gladiator show. It seems lately it's nothing but shows like Survivor, Naked and Afraid, American Idol, Big Brother and other shows that pit one against another and showcase the wickedness of man's heart. TV reminds me more and more of the Roman Coliseum.

Does any of this seem like history repeating itself to anyone else? The Old Republic is falling and Babylon/Rome is rising to take one more shot at uniting the world under the Dark Lord and his minions. We only have a choice between bad emperors and worse ones. We may stand on the wall and shout a warning. We may defend the breaches, but ultimately Babylon will fall again, tearing out its own throat and dying in a pool of its own blood. We won't need guns or swords or weapons of war. We'll be leaving shortly.

But remember, the Second Coming is a rescue mission not an occupation. When it's done, all that's left is ashes and molten slag for a thousand years. Without God there can be no utopia. Without us here, Earth cannot be rebuilt; life cannot resume for we are the gardeners of Earth. But we will come back. Jerusalem made new will descend and when it is all done and the final judgment settled, God's children will spill out of the 12 gates of the city to plant and build and grow and do mighty things in the Earth that we cannot even now imagine.

We certainly live in interesting times.

© 2016 by Tom King

Monday, May 9, 2016

Should We Sit Down, Shut Up and Let God Handle It?

Every time a Christian gets up on his hind legs to protest the election of someone's favorite candidate (you know who you are), another gets up and tells us that we shouldn't worry about such things; that God has everything in his hands and that whoever is elected, it will be at Gods will.

While God might make the best out of it for his faithful whatever miserable situation it puts us in, that "best" is, like God, best seen in the light of eternity. Bible and human history has shown that often, God allows his people to experience a good deal of the mortal misery our bad decisions cause. It's heaven's version of tough love. There is plenty of evidence for how that happens in Scripture.

If you remember, the nation of Israel made some choices against the Will of God and paid dearly for it. They wanted a King. Samuel acting on behalf of God warned them against it. They demanded a king and God gave them one. It turned out very badly, just as God warned even though he did send them a good king. The story of Hezekiah is instructive here. King Hezekiah was told to prepare himself for death. He pleaded with God to extend his life. The whole nation begged God to extend his life. God relented and extended his life.

During that time that God granted to Hezekiah, he had another son, Manasseh, who for 55 long years was the worst king Judah ever had.
Just because God gives us what we demand, doesn't mean it's what He wanted for us. Christians who should know better are demanding Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for our leader. God may allow them what they want, but given how close we are to the end of days, I kind of expect that at some point God will no longer protect us from our own greed and stupidity and let us reap the rewards of our disobedience and self will. If you remember, Daniel and the Revelation, Isaiah, Ezekiel and even Jesus Himself said it would go badly at the end.

While we may rejoice at Christ's soon return, we cannot in good conscience rejoice at the misery of our friends, neighbors and loved ones, even if they brought it upon themselves with us standing behind them warning them of the consequences of their poor choices. We should be careful about sitting on our backsides counting on God to correct our stupid decisions. In general, God asks us to stand in the breach and defend the right, not wait like spoiled children for Daddy to bail them out of the predicament they got themselves into.

So, I will continue to speak out against the evils of our two apparently inevitable presidential candidates. As a Christian man, I cannot go quietly down to Sodom and I certainly won't vote for that sort of change. God help us all.

© 2016 by Tom King