July 4th Polemic and Hope

By Dr. Jim Ferguson

 

My daughter is an English teacher, and writer. She recently commented that I am prolific.  I do seem to have a lot to say, perhaps because I have a voice (The Focus) and perhaps because I’m passionate about many things and my country.

I was intrigued when a neighbor recently gave us his business card which said he was an “aspiring polymath.”  Some years ago in a Focus essay I defined this term, describing Isaac Asimov as a modern embodiment of Leonardo daVinci, a “Renaissance man,”  who also knew “a lot about many things.”

Recently, a reader contacted me and said I should use simpler words in my column because he didn’t like to look up the words he didn’t know.  I told him I’m not trying to be abstruse, but the perfect word is just that.  Anyway, it’s good to learn new words and have new tools for communication.  I maintain that if you stop learning you’ll soon succumb to intellectual entropy.  Incidentally, another reader complained that he was offended when I defined words, since doing so implied that I was more knowledgeable than others.

I tried to talk myself out of writing this essay because some say, “What difference does it make?”  At least one recent poll said Americans don’t care about Benghazi or why four Americans were murdered there.  I sometimes wonder if Americans have become too lazy for freedom, and just want someone or the government to take care of them.  A friend’s father once said, “Freedom is not free.”  Too many Americans take this gift for granted.  This happened in Rome 2000 years ago with disastrous results.  Germans defended their support of Hitler saying, “With Hitler we always had bread.”

This essay is written for our American July 4th celebration which commemorates the declared independence of our country from Britain.  Some will honor our country and American ideals during this holiday.  Some will just be glad they have a few days off to enjoy Bar BQ and fireworks.   A few of us will read and reflect on the founding documents like the Constitution, which Obama refers to as a “set of negative liberties.”  It is true, Mr. President, that the Constitution was written to restrain the government, and to protect the individual and the various states from an overreaching and all powerful federal government.

This year I’m rereading the Bible with a group of friends.  As I do so I reflect on the lessons of history and increasingly find that this collection of wisdom writings is as foundational for me as is the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution.  My group has finished the major prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah.  Our English word jeremiad comes from Jeremiah’s repeated warnings that Israel’s apostasy will lead to destruction.  Jeremiah preached for twenty-five years and was ignored, and Israel was destroyed and its people enslaved.  Our word lament comes from Jeremiah’s Lamentation as he described the utter destruction of Israel.

A prophet is someone who receives special insight from God.  A watchman is an ordinary man who stands guard and watches for the enemy.  I am the latter.  I have been shouting for years for Americans to wake up.  Is anyone listening to this Watchman?  Or do Americans listen to self described “modern-progressives” like Hillary Clinton and Barack H. Obama, or their acolytes in the media?  Perhaps the torpor of summer persists even after the scandals of Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the lies about Obama-care, the open border policy of Obama’s Homeland Security and Justice Department, and the IRS abuses with more than a “smidgin of corruption.”   You’d think Americans would rise up and replace the Administration “Watchman” after the VA tragedy and travesty of incompetence and cover-up or his disastrous and dangerous foreign policy.  Now, we deal with invasion of our country by Central American children promised sanctuary by Obama’s executive action on the Dream Act that was never passed by Congress.

Like me, my daughter Emily prefers a window seat on an airline.  She made it home yesterday and described her bird’s eye vision of the “vast and awesome country we live in.”  On this Fourth of July I wish everyone had this view.  Unfortunately, a recent Pew Research poll found that a sizable percentage of self-described “liberal-Democrats” were not proud to be an American.  I searched for the original quote, “People get the government they deserve,” but found that lots of people have uttered these words.  It is sad that another poll showed that a majority of Democrats were turned off by July 4th flag waving.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1955 said, “ Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic, expression of Americanism.  Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor American way of life.”  How things have changed with fifty years of  “modern-liberalism.”  This term was coined by John Dewey of Dewey Decimal System fame.  He was a passionate “progressive,” but the progressive movement that began in the late 1800s was languishing because its adherents like President Woodrow Wilson had brought America prohibition, entry into WW I, and the ever popular Federal Income tax.

In 1924 progressives took Dewey’s recommendation and began to call themselves “modern-liberals” glomming onto “classical-liberalism” of the Founders.  Classical liberalism believes in an individual’s freedom.  It favors free markets, civil liberty, and limited government.  It believes in private property and equality under the law.  It abhors a welfare state and champions rational thought over emotionally driven politics.  Classical liberalism may actually be closer to libertarian philosophy of our  day.

Modern-liberalism has again changed its name to “modern-progressive” because fifty years of liberalism (and its acme, Obama) have brought America to its knees.  John Adams once said, “Facts are such troublesome things.”  It’s time for America to wake up.  Perhaps by pulling back the curtain we will see that the Wizard (and the Democrat heir apparent) is actually a modern-progressive at odds with the ideals of Americanism.

People will moan that I’m just a Republican, and I will say that I am not a Republican.  I am a proud American and a Watchman who says the enemy has breached our walls.

It is hard to see our country pilloried and endure occupation by such an anti-American philosophy.  As a realist I see what is happening.  However, there is hope on this July 4th, 2014.

I no longer listen to what Mr. Obama says because he has shown himself to be incapable of the truth.  As a Watchman I write and shout the hope of the “classical-liberal” Thomas Jefferson who said, “Whenever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government and that when things get so wrong as to attract their notice they may be relied on to set things right.”

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