“Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.
It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams
I recently listened to a talk given by Congressman Ron Paul to some college students. He noted that young adults would often approach him and ask, “How do I become a congressman?” I admit that I’ve wondered this at times myself. I’m appalled by what our politicians are doing to this country (and others) and I want to do something to stop it. But Ron Paul gives a sharp warning to anyone considering trying to change our country through politics; he says, “Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it.” Ron Paul has spent 30 years in public office but his methods in that time can be summed up in one word: education. Career politicians often complain that Ron Paul “does not play by the rules” and he does not, but then he has never shared the objectives of the career politicians. Ron Paul has never used the political clout lent to him by his constituency to attempt to “restructure” America, to regulate and control the very people who elected him, or to grant favors to special interest groups so that they can return the favor in the next election cycle. Politics as usual run on quid pro quo but the lobbyists don’t even bother knocking on Ron Paul’s office door. This is because, instead of trying to “save” America from the top-down, Ron Paul has used his office to educate. He always voted on principle, he never went back on his principles when they were unpopular and he spoke constantly on the importance of liberty, justice, the rule of law and fiscal responsibility, teaching not just the American public but also congress itself.
Our government is a product of its citizenry and the decisions that they make usually reflect the sentiments of the populace at large. We can try to attain political power but unless the American people are on our side our efforts will only be in vain: no matter how noble our cause if the people are against us we may find victory on the senate floor only to be defeated in every American household. We cannot force things like virtue or fiscal responsibility onto people – it will only end with a well-intentioned but tragically totalitarian and lifeless state. No, America can only be “saved” from the bottom-up. The government can be no better than the people that hold it up. For a virtuous, free, responsible United States we need a nation of virtuous, free and responsible people who understand and embrace the moral code written in their hearts, the Natural Law, who recognize the utter failure of the central banking system, the immorality of military adventurism, the coercive nature and unsustainability of the welfare state, who embrace private charity, religious freedom and the sanctity of life, who heed their own personal call to virtue.
That begins with education. Through our statesmen, our churches, our communities, our classrooms and most importantly our households we must relearn the universal moral code that C.S. Lewis called the “Tao”, to relearn what is good and what is evil and, finally, to embrace and love the good and reject and loathe the evil. As long as we live in a relativistic, modernist, snobbish society we will have relativistic, modernist, snobbish politicians seeking to rule every aspect of our lives and imposing their own personal whims on everyone else. Good men in office can accomplish very little if no one listens to them. That is why we must work to change the hearts and minds of Americans. We must be ever vigilant in informing ourselves and, then, in informing others. When Americans freely accept the Tao only then will we see it reflected in our government.