As the nation enters another exhausting election cycle, there is ever growing frustration with government. America is polarized and unable to move forward. Some believe the solution lies in forgetting about moral issues and just doing what it takes to return to power and prosperity.
Such a pragmatic approach reduces all things to economic terms. It promotes the notion that markets or government can resolve everything with money. Putting aside the Culture War, people should look after their own self interest, and everything will work out just fine. This outlook might well be called a rule of money.
It is a dangerous model. It tends to reduce the function of government to maximize the economic benefits of the citizenry, whether it is through entitlements or tax breaks. On both sides of the spectrum, so much of the political rhetoric is about delivering the goods to voters.
[sharequote align="center"]Our candidates need to be representative characters not characterless representatives.[/sharequote]
But such policies without moral considerations do not always work well especially in the frenetic intemperance of our modern economy. It was exactly this policy that led us to send so many of our factories overseas to China, Vietnam, and other nations where cheap labor could be exploited and human freedoms violated. It was this same policy that led frenzied business in cahoots with government to trigger the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis that almost brought our economy down.
When a rule of money holds sway as it does today, it becomes the supreme measure of life. There is a decay of principles and convictions. The media and public opinion polls reign supreme and things become sensational, brash and gaudy. It creates a cutthroat, dog-eat-dog atmosphere that favors crony capitalism. It eventually leads to bankruptcy.
That is why the tone of the debate needs to change. Ignoring morality will not resolve our problems but make them worse. We should not be asking our politicians what kind of goods or programs they can deliver to make our lives easier. Candidates should not be like street vendors saying all the right things to secure the vote. Even the excellent initiative of calling for less government, extremely necessary though it may be, cannot be our sole focus.
What is needed is a model where moral values and principles are held above self-interest. The rule of money should be replaced by high standards of excellence and self-sacrifice. The central questions to politicians should be: What will you do to bring out the best in America today? In what ways will you inspire, sacrifice and lead to make America all it can be? From where will you be leading – the front, the back or a golf course? In such a model, money does not rule, but rather honor prevails.
Under a rule of honor, we do not need savvy politicians or tough-talking businessmen but what sociologists call representative characters.
Representative characters take the principles, moral qualities, and virtues desired and needed by their communities and translate them into concrete programs of life and culture. They quickly transform thought into action, doctrine into reality, and tendencies into fashions.
We might point to self-sacrificing figures like the late Col. John R. Ripley, who stopped a North Vietnamese division during the Easter Offensive in 1972 by blowing up the Dong Ha Bridge. His moral courage on and later off the battlefield, defined a type of American that is sorely needed to inspire people in our days. Such figures are what it will take to draw and fuse our society back together again.
Our candidates need to be representative characters not characterless representatives.
A return to order will only happen if we change the terms of the debate from getting the most out of the government to getting the best out of America.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order,as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP).
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