HONOLULU, March 31, 2014 – A growing sense of helplessness and frustration among voters may tip the balance of power in November midterms towards Republicans. The last six weeks of fundraising emails from liberal organizations are filled with the spirit of defeat, with seeimingly self-prophetic subject lines like “humiliating loss,” “shocking defeat,” “our nightmare,” or “embarrassed.”
Before conservatives start mounting brooms to their pickup trucks to celebrate clean sweeping Democrats from office, they should carefully consider the dangerous and enlarged powers that a Republican majority would inherit.
Low interest rates at the Federal Reserve combined with massive government spending have changed national attitudes towards the role of government and given incredible power to special interest groups who thrive on easy money. History shows the temptation to “use the System” rather than abolishing the infrastructure of self-serving policies is often too much for those in power to resist.
As John Adams wrote, “When the people give way, their deceivers, betrayers and destroyers press upon them so fast, that there is no resisting afterwards … The revenue creates pensioners, and the pensioners urge for more revenue. The people grow less stead, spirited, and virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and every day increases the circles of their dependents and expectants, until virtue, integrity, public spirit, simplicity, and frugality, become the objects of ridicule and scorn, and vanity, luxury, foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality swallow up the whole society.”
One of the key advantages of the Tea Party over other U.S. political movements is that a large number of its supporters believe social corruption is a key element in American decline. It is impossible to maintain a republic – that is, a nation of laws – without moral order. If a nation has no moral foundation, all of the institutions built on that social structure, however worthy, will collapse and shatter.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in 1978 warned Harvard graduates that one of the West’s key weaknesses was its declining morality, which led to mercenary attitudes towards money over social responsibility and courage. Solzenitsyn blasted American moral decline, saying “Very well-known representatives of your society, such as George Kennan, say: ‘We cannot apply moral criteria to politics.’ Thus we mix good and evil, right and wrong, and make space for the triumph of absolute evil in the world. On the contrary, only moral criteria can help the West against Communism’s well-planned world strategy. There are no other criteria. Practical or occasional considerations of any kind will inevitably be swept away by strategy. After a certain level of the problem has been reached, legalistic thinking induces paralysis; it prevents one from seeing the size and meaning of events.”
More than anything else, evil is winning in the world today, and that cannot be vanquished or uprooted without righteous might. Violent crime, terrorism at home and abroad, and social upheaval are all symptoms of evil unchecked. The Tea Party’s greatest strength is its overwhelming desire to see America restored to sensibility, justice and accountability. These are unpopular values to have in politics, let alone in a corrupted society, but they are tough medicine necessary to ensure the survival of America’s place as a leader among nations. What is needed is not just “a different party” in office, but a different mindset towards America’s past, present and future.
One should not hastily assume that the victory of Republicans in November will mean reform if there is no moral pressure to demand rollback of the last two decades of corruption, greed, entitlement and narcissism in Washington. Like J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional King Isildur who defeated evil only to keep the ring of power, voters should suspect similar cowardice from newly elected members of Congress in November if the Tea Party does not rise up.