The seduction of politics, which we must have the backbone to resist, happens when citizens – on the left or the right, both are susceptible – regard agencies and laws, taxes and budgets, as a magic box from which solutions to imperfection and scarcity can be expected. No such solutions exist, and we court moral bankruptcy by banking on them.
Freedom won’t work unless enough of us practice four essentials of citizenship, writes Thomas Krannawitter of the Claremont Institute. We need self-assertion to defend our liberties, self-restraint to behave responsibly, self-reliance to avert dependency, and civic knowledge to participate constructively. Simple, aren’t they? Yet far from easy.
And now consider how poorly these qualities are fostered today by many of our nation’s families, schools, corporations, media, entertainers, government programs, and even churches. Think how often candidates and campaigns promote the exact opposite: passivity, indulgence, blaming, and sloganeering. That road does lead to ruin.
Alexander Hamilton said America is an experiment in governing ourselves by “reflection and choice” rather than “accident and force.” More important than who’s elected this year is how we go about it. Are we a stampeding herd or a free people, choosing reflectively? The world is watching.