Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What I Said to the Tea Party - The Way Forward

There is a quote. I don’t know if he ever really said it, but it’s attributed to the great Winston Churchill. It goes

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”

To be fair, I think it says more about humanity in general than it does about Americans in particular. It is so like us humans to try and cut corners and look for easy answers. But have you ever noticed how the easy way and the right way are almost never the same thing? I believe that is not by accident, that the universe is designed to test our character. It is built to see if we care about what is true and right enough to follow that path, even though at first it seems the much harder road.

This life is designed to test our character. If we are honest, we are going to realize that we regularly fail the test. Ultimately the honest soul will concede that we need to reach up to God for help rather than rely on our own insight and virtue. You are meeting in a church building, so I hope that it is OK if I go there.

It is simply a fact of history that in the long term, without the Gospel there will be tyranny. This was the norm for humanity before the Gospel arrived, it is still the norm in places where the Gospel never took wide root, and it is once again becoming the norm in societies where the influence of the Gospel has waned. We are increasingly without the Gospel, so we are increasingly under tyranny.

What was it about the gospel which produced so much human liberty? I think a big part of the answer is its brutal honesty. What does it say about us? It says that we are sinners. That we need to repent. That we have been kidding ourselves about who we are and the nobility of our motivations and actions and how much those of our sort can be trusted. It informs us that even what we imagine to be our most righteous acts are tainted by our mixed motives. They are rubbish.

We could never face such a harsh assessment about ourselves, even if it’s the truth, if not for the good news of the gospel. Yes, we are sinners, but God has provided forgiveness for that sin. We are not right, but we don’t have to be right. We just have to be willing to believe the truth instead of whatever lies we had previously comforted ourselves with. When you get a nation of people who are able to accept change in this manner, when you get people who are willing to trade even comforting lies away in return for truth, even when it hurts, then you get a society which is in tune with reality. It only hurts for a while but once adjusted we find the truth we painfully accepted actually leaves us better off than the false comfort of unreality we once clung to.

Our founders were keenly aware of human nature and its moral shortcomings. They did not create for us a system of government based on the idea that the right people could be trusted with power. Quite the opposite, they assumed that power corrupts even the very best of us, or even reveals the corruption present all along. They started with the premise that no one, not even their group, not even Holy Joe on the Front Row and not even our favorite candidate could be trusted with unchecked power.

They did not trust even Washington, Jefferson, or Madison with unrestrained power. Those men did not even trust themselves with it, and the Presidency in the early Republic did not have one percent of the power of the Presidency today. FEDGOV itself was only a thin shadow of its present vastness. Instead they very deliberately implemented a complicated system of checks and balances so that power might be decentralized and divided.

Given that this is true, can any among us truly say that electing anyone on our ballots to the Presidency is any kind of way to restore the republic? Then why should we be so upset about it? Why should we gnaw at one another over it?

We find ourselves in this particular place of which perhaps Lord Churchill spoke, where we have tried everything else, and it is now time for us to do the right thing. We have been trying to give power to the right person, when the Founders designed for us a Republic founded on the idea that when it comes to political power there is no right person. We have been trying to gather up political power when our heritage is to divide it. After years of taking the so-called easy way, we find ourselves lost. We have out-sourced the job of looking out for our interests to a political machine headquartered in Washington D.C. and funded by global corporations, and then are shocked to discover that they worked for their own interests and not ours.

National political parties are not in our constitution but they spontaneously formed early on in our nation. As two of them gained power they kept altering the rules so that they got more of it. It is only natural that we should seek to drink from the well which they had already dug. It was convenient to believe that much of our nation’s ills would go away if only “our” side of the equation was able to heap up more and more power. We believed this only to find out that the Scriptures and the Founders were correct all along- power corrupts. Giving “our” side more of it did not make America better, it only made what we though was our side more corrupt.

We have been trying national political parties, but they have never been the right way to do things. They were always a short-cut, they were always an easy way out. And they were always contrary to the vision of the Founders who devised for us a government with separation of powers. National political parties are in fact an informal end-run around the formal checks and balances which the Founders intended in order to protect us from what both they and we know about human nature.

Listen to me friends, listen. It was never right for the states governments and the federal government to be stocked by members of the same political club. The states and the federal government were meant to be a check and a balance on one another. When public officials from both are drawn from the same club the tendency over time will be for them to advance the interests of their club, and that means centralizing all power to Washington. In the same way, how can we expect the legislative branch to really be the People’s Branch, as it was intended, when they are elected by the same club which elects the Governor? Is it not clear that, with exceptions from time to time, that the rule will be that they will represent their Governor rather than their constituents?

This has happened, this is still happening today, and this will continue to happen, so long as we refuse to change our candidate selection system from one which undermines the Founder’s intent on separation of powers and instead build one which supports it. Can we select a President like that? No. But the answer is not to make the right person President. It’s to go back to an America where it was a lot less important who the President was. Unless you have fought harder for that goal than you have fought electing your preferred choice President, you are quite frankly doing it wrong.

You should take that as good news because you can now understand why our efforts have been so futile. We have been working the problem the wrong way so it is no wonder things have been getting worse not better. God in His Mercy was not going to let us “win” the wrong way, by taking a shortcut which denies what He has said about human nature. But His blessing of defeat does not end there. It also means that if we repent, if we change, if we are willing to start working the right way, the way that is in accord with what He says about Man, then we can win. We don’t have to keep losing. We just have to lose the tactics that have not worked for us and in the long run cannot work. They can only make the problem worse and here is why- the more power the other side wins the more corrupt it gets. The more power our side wins the more corrupt it gets. This is why we should seek to disperse government power more than we love accumulating it.

What specifically am I suggesting? I am suggesting a network- a network not a hierarchy, of citizens of a single state, not a part of a national centralized group. This loose coalition of citizen groups (which I shall call “houses”) would work together to provide ballot access for candidates local office and the state legislature, as well as Congress- but not Governor or President. There will be no hierarchy to capture or corrupt. Each “house” in this network will be a self-contained unit. If they go bad, they can be excluded next time around, so the contagion is contained. But most importantly, it brings what the Founders intended in government to the political process- decentralization. Checks and balances. A separation of powers.

It is too late for 2016, but we can hit the ground running in 2017. What I am asking of you tonight is if some among you in this County Tea Party wish to be a part of a “House” to gather signatures in the Spring of 2017 to put this new coalition on the ballot. In exchange, your group will have the responsibility of naming candidates for all county offices, and a say in who we nominate for state legislative offices. Those who do the work pick the candidates. The voters will decide if you picked the ones they wanted or not, but you will have until November to make that case. It is not like running candidates in a stacked primary where the Governor is endorsing the other guy and there is no time for sweat equity to counter big money.

If you are ready to change the way we elect candidates, if you are ready to align your political action with what both God and the Founder’s believed about human nature and political power, I ask you to connect not with me, but with one another. When you think you have enough serious workers to commit, let Jeff know. He will visit with me and we will go from there.

I thank you for your attention. Those of you who managed to listen on through, even though it was not an easy word to hear, I do salute you and if you wish to scrutinize me with questions I make myself answerable to you at this time.


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