Contending for the Recognition of Absolutes, Part 7

Getting the Big Picture of Reality Is a Key Factor in Affirming the Existence of Absolute Truth and Understanding Authentic Liberty

[T]he problem of the 1920s to the 1980s…is the attempt to have absolute freedom—to be totally autonomous from any intrinsic limits. It is the attempt to throw off anything that would restrain one’s own personal autonomy. But it is especially a direct and deliberate rebellion against God and his law.
Francis Schaeffer in The Great Evangelical Disaster, published in 1984—

The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.—John Locke in Two Treatises of Government, published in 1689

View summaries of all the articles in this series here.

In a Family TalkTM booklet titled Discipline, Dr. James Dobson relates a story loaded with lessons for us today. Countering the idea that parents and their children should “be on an even playing field—making decisions by negotiation and compromise,” Dobson recalls observing his daughter’s pet hampster fidgeting in his cage, anxiously trying to escape. The little guy

worked tirelessly to open the gate and push his furry little nose between the bars. Then I noticed our dachshund, Siggie, sitting eight feet away in the shadows. He was watching the hamster, too. His ears were erect, and it was obvious what was on his mind. He was thinking, Come on, baby. Open that door, and I’ll have you for lunch. If the hamster had been so unfortunate as to escape from his cage, which he desperately wanted to do, he would have been dead in a matter of seconds.

Dobson goes on to discuss the difference between the hampster’s perspective and his own: “I was aware of dangers that he couldn’t have foreseen. That’s why I denied him something that he desperately wanted to achieve.”

In this respect, children are like that hampster—but so is everyone else in the human race, regardless of age, before he or she is willing to acknowledge the big picture offered by “nature and nature’s God,” to quote the the Declaration of Independence.

But wait! The Declaration does not just speak of “nature and nature’s God,” but of “the laws of nature and nature’s God.” What? In the Declaration of Independence? Yes! Our founders got it right. True freedom and liberty—on both personal and societal levels—can be established and maintained only when individals and society affirm the laws of nature, or absolute truth. Dr. Dobson’s perspective in relation to his daughter’s hamster parallels the one we need with regard to the world, life, and the universe.

True freedom and liberty—on both personal and societal levels—can be established and maintained only when individals and society affirm the laws of nature, or absolute truth. 

No One Really Believes Truth Doesn’t Exist

Even a relativist has to admit that some truths and falsehoods exist.

  • He knows he’s wearing a blue shirt and not a red one.
  • She lives in Texas, not in Vermont.
  • Go through a traffic intersection when you approach a green light, not a red one.

Truths and falsehoods in the moral and spiritual realms exist, too. These also are evident, but we don’t recognize them with physical senses like seeing and hearing—and they often are even more consequential than realities in the physical relalm.

True Freedom Is Found In a Recognition of Absolute Truth

In their book on apologetics for high schoolers titled Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door, Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler expose 42 myths that have become quite popular in today’s culture. One of them is the “Anarchist Myth.”1 To expose this false belief for the lie it really is, McDowell and Hostetler tell a story. The story also is available online.

Herman, the son of a crab named Fred, was growing rather weary of what he believed to be the confinement imposed on him by his shell. “Hey, Dad! This shell is really boxing me in,” said Herman. “I can’t take it anymore! I want my freedom! My friends and I have been talking, and they feel the same way. Some of them are thinking about forming a group called ‘Crabs for Shedding Shells.’ I’m ready to help!”

“Son,” said Fred to his boy, “I understand your frustration. I know it’s easy for you to think your shell is denying you freedom and that you could move around unencumbered if you only could get rid of it—but let me tell you a story.”

“Aww, Dad, come on. I’m too old for that!” complained Herman.

“Now, hear me out,” replied the elder crab. “I think this will make a lot of sense to you. My story is about

Humphrey the human, who insisted on going barefoot to school. He complained that his shoes were too confining. They cramped his style, he said. He longed to be free to run barefoot through fields and streams. Finally, his mother gave in to him. He skipped out of the house barefoot. Do you know what happened?”

Herman opened his mouth, but his father continued before he could answer.

“Humphrey the human stepped on pieces of a broken bottle. His foot required twenty stitches, and some other guy took his girl to the prom while Humphrey sat home watching reruns of Flipper.”

“That’s a pretty lame story, Dad,” Herman said.

“Maybe, Son, but the point is this: Every crab has felt this way at one time or another, thinking life would be better if he could be completely shell-free. But that’s like a sailor getting tired of the confinement of a ship and jumping to freedom in the sea. He may think that’s freedom, but if he doesn’t get back to ship or shore, he’ll drown and end up as crab food. What kind of freedom is that?”

Fred explained to Herman that one day in the not-too-distant future, he indeed would discard his shell. The process, called molting, is a normal part of a crab’s growth into adulthood. “But don’t be fooled,” Fred warned his son. “After your old shell comes off, you’re going to be especially vulnerable. It’ll be a dangerous time. You’ll need to be more careful than ever until your new shell hardens.” Fred tapped his son’s exterior shield a couple of times and then summarized his main point. “The truth, Herman, is that without a protective shell, life will be far more confining than liberating.”

Both the irony and the reality of the situation were beginning to dawn on Herman. After thoughtful reflection, he turned to his dad and said,

“You mean that some things may seem to limit freedom but really make greater freedom possible?”

Fred smiled broadly and patted his son on the back with a mammoth claw. “How’d you get to be so smart, Son?” he asked.

Corporate Liberty Depends on the Affirmation of a Supreme Authority

“The laws of nature and nature’s God” are like Herman’s shell. Coming back now to the larger picture, we note that as a nation, if we don’t return to these, we will lose our liberty. Does everyone have to become a Christian in this nation for America to restore and maintain liberty? No, not everyone was a Christian even at America’s founding, although most were. People believed in God, however, and that was key. In particular, the Founders held beliefs “rooted in the Judeo-Christian values found in the Bible.”

While we might not be able to convince our secular friends and neighbors of the existence of God right off the bat (even though we certainly need to know and be able make the case for God’s existence), if we can help them see the connections between law, liberty, and belief in a divine being, that will be a good first step.

Yet we may need to take at least one step even before that. We absolutely must teach our children about these connections. As the Bible affirms Psalm 119:45: “I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts.”

Have you had a discussion about absolute truth in your home?

Part 8 is available here.

Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

For Further Study

Homicide detective J. Warner Wallace became a Christian after applying principles of forensic analysis to the Gospel accounts and determining that they passed the tests for authenticity. In these videos, he discusses the evidence for God based on the existence of moral truth.

In this video, conservative radio talk show host and devout Jew Dennis Prager argues from the other side of this issue. Prager makes the case that without God, objective moral truth cannot exist.

Both Wallace and Prager are correct, but each deals with the issue from a different angle.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Contending for the Recognition of Absolutes, Part 4

The Foundation and Benefits of Absolute Truth
True Liberty Is Grounded in a Recognition of Absolute Truth

There are three points of doctrine the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality. The first is the existence of God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these three articles of faith and that man will have no conscience, he will have no other law than that of the tiger or the shark. The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.
John Quincy Adams

[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. Here therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man.
Samuel Adams, pictured above in John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence

Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.
Ronald Reagan

View summaries of all the articles in this series here.

A Jewish rabbi bound on a plane for Israel soon discovered he was seated next to one of the leaders of Israel’s socialist labor movement. After the plane became airborne, a student of the rabbi who was seated several rows behind him approached him and offered him his slippers. “Here are your slippers, sir,” he said, “You’ll feel more comfortable in them, since your feet swell terribly on the plane.” A short time later the same young man came forward again and offered the rabbi several sandwiches. “Your wife fixed these for your lunch, sir. We know you’ll like them much better than the food the airline will offer.”

These were not isolated incidents, but a pattern; the student returned on numerous occasions to check on the rabbi, to offer him something to make his flight more pleasant, or to serve him in some other way. All of this made quite an impression on the socialist leader, who finally turned to his seatmate and said, “Wow! I’m so impressed with your son! I have four grown sons, and never in all my life have they offered to serve me as your son has waited on you. Why is he so attentive to you?”

“I have to be honest with you,” said the rabbi. “This young man is not my son but my student. His service, as good as it is, is nothing compared to the assistance my own son would give me if he were here.

“The reason the members of the next generation, including members of our own families, treat us as they do is quite simple. All of them are living according to the ideas and principles we’ve taught them. You decided some time ago to tell them that you—and they—descended from apes, and this is what you taught them. They know intuitively this means that you are one generation closer to being a monkey than they are, so it’s only natural that they would expect you to serve them. I, on the other hand, have taught my children and students that we have been created by God Himself. They understand this puts me one generation closer to the Source of Ultimate Truth, and they treat me in accord with this understanding. We reap what we sow.”1

Of course, just as the socialist leader’s belief in evolution does not prove God doesn’t exist, neither does the rabbi’s belief in divine creation prove that He does. What our story does demonstrate is that a belief in God is conducive to civil behavior, and ultimately to a civil society. It also sets the stage for us to see that true freedom can exist only in a society grounded in virtue. Without virtue, freedom unravels into chaos, which leads to bigger government and, finally, to tyranny.

Consider the positive virtues inherent in the rabbi’s perspective. A belief in being created by God helps a person to cultivate a variety of noble qualities in his or her life, including these.

  1. Generosity
  2. Gratitude
  3. Selflessness
  4. Humility
  5. A sense of responsibility
  6. A sense of accountability
  7. Respect for others
  8. Respect for one’s elders
  9. Respect for one’s peers, grounded in the truth that all of human life is valuable because God creates it in His image

And to think—we got all this just from considering the implications of the rabbi’s observations on the plane!

Yet there’s more. While selfishness and pursuit of personal pleasure tend to foster distrust and tension in relationships, the virtues listed above promote numerous priceless benefits, including stronger and more fulfilling relationships and a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness.

On a societal level as well, virtues establish and maintain order and stability. A virtuous people exercise a positive self-restraint that makes true freedom in society possible. The other side of the coin is that without virtue, self-restraint is non-existent as well. Without self-restraint, chaos, then tyranny, inevitably follow.

Virtue, let us not forget, flourishes in the soil of a belief in God and an awareness of one’s accountability to Him. A belief in absolute truth also is a part of this mix. To be accountable to God means to understand that He holds us to a high and unchanging standard—His. If this make you feel straight-jacketed and unfairly confined, think of a train, which has been designed and built to travel along railroad tracks. The train constructed neither itself nor the tracks. Human beings built both of these for a purpose. The train accomplishes its purpose when it runs on the tracks that fit its design.

In like manner, God designed people for a purpose that ultimately can be fulfilled only when they are aware of their accountability to Him. Yes, this is confining in some ways, but it is liberating in many more.

The rabbi is right. So are the statesmen we’ve quoted at the top. And so is Founding Father Fisher Ames, who said, “The happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend on piety, religion, and morality.”

Let us do all we can to help our society rediscover and re-implement this principle. Once again, absolute truth is far more liberating than confining when we cooperate with it. Why? Because it is part of the uncompromising, unyielding, unbending, real world in which we live. Reality isn’t mean, it just is. Because it is what it is, it will hit you in the face if you try to defy it.

Part 5 is available here.


Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

1Rabbi Daniel Lapin, America’s Real War: An Orthodox Rabbi Insists that Judeo-Christian Values Are Vital for Our Nation’s Survival, (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1999), 51-52.


The Importance of Getting History Right, Part 9

An Opportunity Seized by Progressives—
and a Turning Point for America

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
Thomas Jefferson

Part 8 is available here.

For the last eight weeks, we’ve been discussing several significant events in America’s history and the importance of understanding them in the historical contexts in which they occurred. Was America founded on racist principles? Was the original Constitution of 1787 racist? If not, then why did slavery continue in America for decades beyond the Constitution’s ratification?


Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in the 1770s

These have been some of the questions we have considered and endeavored to answer. Our journey has taken us from the Constitutional Convention of 1787, to the Civil War, to Reconstruction and beyond—all the way into the 20th and 21st centuries.

As we examined history, we saw that the Constitution was not racist.  Yet we did discover that one political party has promoted racism. Before, during, and after the Civil War, Democrats, generally speaking, were indeed racists and sought to implement racist policies. Today the prevailing narrative says that Republicans, not Democrats, are racists, but the fact that the narrative is what it is simply demonstrates that liberals—Democrats—have controlled it and effectively have rewritten history to their own advantage.

Today the prevailing narrative says that Republicans, not Democrats, are racists, but the fact that the narrative is what it is simply demonstrates that liberals—Democrats—have controlled it and effectively have rewritten history to their own advantage.

Just how has it come to pass that most people believe the narrative rather than what history teaches? Actually, with last week’s post, we already have started to answer this question, but this week and next week we’ll seek to answer it in earnest. In these final two installments in our 10-part series, we will highlight two strategies Democrats have adopted in the last 70 years to promote a progressive agenda. Progressives have relied on

1. powerful appeals to people’s emotions and
2. vicious attacks against their opponents.

These approaches largely have worked to further progressives’ aims, and it’s significant that as they have used them, liberals also have employed racism and racist overtones. Their racism isn’t manifested in the same ways it once was, but it is real and destructive nonetheless.

Let’s learn more. To set the stage to consider the first strategy we named—appealing to people’s emotions—we need once again to look back into history.

The First Black Democrat Elected to Congress

arthur_w-1-_mitchellArthur Wergs Mitchell (1883-1968) was the first black Democrat to be elected to Congress. Not coincidently, he was first elected in 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression. Mitchell began his political work in the Republican Party but in 1932 switched to the Democrat Party to support the programs of FDR. When he arrived in Congress in 1935, Mitchell declared, “What I am interested in is to help this grand President of ours feed the hungry and clothe the naked and provide work for the idle of every race and creed.”

As it turns out, Roosevelt wasn’t the first president to take steps to involve government in meeting people’s needs. How much do you know about the era of the Great Depression? Go here to take a brief, 2-question test and to learn some important things about American history you probably never heard in school. Also, you can learn more about Arthur W. Mitchell here.

What I am interested in is to help this grand President of ours feed the hungry and clothe the naked and provide work for the idle of every race and creed.
—Democrat Congressman Arthur W. Mitchell, conveying His desire to assist FDR in passing his proposals—

Mitchell’s statement sounds compassionate, noble, and honorable. Who could argue with it? I will! Before speaking against it, though, I must highlight the era in which Mitchell spoke. The Great Depression was taking a heavy toll on the American people. The average unemployment rate in 1935 was 20.1 percent. People had needs—and those needs were real. We must not minimize their desperate situations.

Government—Not an Effective or Efficient Provider

Even so, I am compelled to point out that it isn’t the primary job of the president, nor is it the main task of the government, to “feed the hungry and clothe the naked and provide work for the idle of every race and creed.” What is government’s job? Scripture is clear, but we don’t even need Scripture to understand that government is not equipped or suited to efficiently meet the material and physical needs of its people.

Thus, today, at minimum, government programs that “help” people in need must be reformed. Needy recipients must be encouraged to demonstrate responsibility and to work wherever and whenever possible—even though offering them handouts is tempting from an emotional point of view. Reforms were implemented in 1996, but President Obama gutted them in 2012. Reforms need to be reinitiated.1

Returning to our main point, we must not allow emotions alone to guide us when making decisions that affect so many. It is logical to assume this is one reason Thomas Jefferson warned against ignorance, or a lack of knowledge and understanding (see his statement at the top of this article). Government can’t help the poor without taking resources from others, and we need to use our heads to analyze, not just the impact government programs have on the poor, but also the impact they have on the country itself, and particularly on those who pay for such programs through higher taxes.

arlie-j-hoover-webThe point here is that emotions are a terrible guide. We have quoted the late Dr. A. J. Hoover in previous posts on other subjects (here and here). In a book exposing the weaknesses of various kinds of faulty arguments, Professor Hoover says, “Clear thinking involves many things, but one of the most important things it involves is learning to control your emotions.”2 Hear him elaborate on this idea. Especially today, these statements offer much needed wisdom.

Sometimes even the noble emotions like love, honor, courage, and kindness need to be carefully watched. You commit the fallacy of argumentum ad misericordiam (“argument to pity”) when you make an illicit appeal to the emotion of pity.

This technique of persuasion has long been a familiar practice of lawyers in the courtroom. It is usually employed by the attorney for the defense who ignores the facts of the case and plays on the heartstrings of the jury. For example, he may bring into the courtroom the bedraggled wife of the defendant, followed by his seven pathetic, ragged children. He need not speak any words, for this “body language” says to the jury: “If you send my client to prison, you will make a widow of this poor woman and orphans of all these innocent children. What have these poor human beings done to deserve all this?”

Naturally, the prosecuting attorney will want to remind the jury that there is no necessary, logical connection between the deplorable state of the man’s family and his guilt or the requirements of the law. The jury should not be blinded by the noble emotion of pity in such a case.3

We’ve also previously noted this about government.

Government is inefficient, costly, and has an intoxicating effect on leaders and the public. Government may look like a benefactor, but it can offer only those resources it has taken from citizens and businesses through taxes and regulations. Despite appearances, government is not compassion, but force. Government’s good intentions often have very bad unintended consequences.

And this

The following quote frequently is attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler, although no evidence exists in his writings it ever originated with him. Nevertheless, whoever said it was absolutely correct. We need to heed this warning and understand its implications.

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

• From bondage to spiritual faith;
• From spiritual faith to great courage;
• From courage to liberty;
• From liberty to abundance;
• From abundance to selfishness;
• From selfishness to complacency;
• From complacency to apathy;
• From apathy to dependence;
• From dependence back into bondage.

When the people of a nation believe they have a right to government “benefits,” they become intoxicated with everything the government is willing to offer. In turn, those in authority become intoxicated with the power they gain as an increasing number of people become dependent upon them. The more government “gives,” the more beholden recipients become. This is how a nation that began with liberty can be led into tyranny.

The early stages of this process, however, don’t look at all like a journey into tyranny. They may not look that way years or even decades later. Eventually, though, “the chickens will come home to roost.”

When the people of a free nation begin to look to the government to meet their needs, the journey on which they’ve started won’t appear to have tyranny as its destination. The road may not look like a path to tyranny and oppression years or even decades later. Then, when it’s too late, some of the people—certainly not all—will realize they’ve traded freedom for security and now live in bondage to the government.

FDR’s policies often are viewed favorably because of the many ways they seemed to help those in need. In other words, his programs were “compassionate.” Roosevelt was then, and is now, a hero to many. Economist Robert Higgs writes, “Roosevelt, it is said repeatedly, restored hope to the American people when they had fallen into despair because of the seemingly endless depression, and his policies ‘saved capitalism’ by mitigating its intrinsic cruelties and inequalities.”

But wait! Higgs goes on to contend this perception doesn’t fit the facts.

This view of Roosevelt and the New Deal amounts to a myth compounded of ideological predisposition and historical misunderstanding. In a 1936 book called The Menace of Roosevelt and His Policies, Howard E. Kershner came closer to the truth when he wrote that Roosevelt

took charge of our government when it was comparatively simple, and for the most part confined to the essential functions of government, and transformed it into a highly complex, bungling agency for throttling business and bedeviling the private lives of free people. It is no exaggeration to say that he took the government when it was a small racket and made a large racket out of it.4

As this statement illustrates, not everyone admired FDR during the 1930s.…The irony is that even if Roosevelt did help to lift the spirits of the American people in the depths of the depression—an uplift for which no compelling documentation exists—this achievement only led the public to labor under an illusion. After all, the root cause of the prevailing malaise was the continuation of the depression. Had the masses understood that the New Deal was only prolonging the depression, they would have had good reason to reject it and its vaunted leader.

headshot-bennettYet the masses, in fact, did not understand. In his three-volume work on American History—America: The Last Best Hope—William J. Bennett states that the congressional Democrats who had been elected to office in 1932 on Roosevelt’s coattails were all too eager to pass his policies, and pass them they did. Bennett quotes this paragraph from Samuel Eliot Morison as part of his explanation of the shift of political allegiances occurring against the backdrop of the Great Depression.

A feature of the WPA [Works Progress Administration] which caught the public eye and became nicknamed “boondoggling,” was the setting up of projects to employ artists, musicians, writers and other “white collar” workers. Post offices and other public buildings were decorated with murals; regional and state guides were written; libraries in municipal and state buildings were catalogued by out-of-work librarians, and indigent graduate students were employed to inventory archives and copy old shipping lists, to the subsequent profit of American historians. The federal theater at its peak employed over 15,000 actors and other workers, at an average wage of $20 a week. Under the direction of John Houseman, Orson Welles, and others, new plays were written and produced, and the classics revived.5

Bennett then writes,

iuHere, in a nutshell, we see the origins of many of today’s political alignments. Hollywood, academia, the press, libraries, the public universities—all are inhabited by tens of thousands of people who could trace the existence of their jobs or their institutions to a federal program begun under FDR. By bringing into government a “Brian Trust,” FDR assured the allegiance of what we today call the “knowledge class” to the Democratic Party. One thing can always be assured: If you take from Peter to pay Paul, you can generally rely on the vote of Paul.6

A history website  agrees that the 1932 election brought together a new coalition in support of Democrats. It also included blacks, the country’s other minority populations, and organized labor (see also the last paragraph on the 1936 election in this article). For decades beyond, Democrats would depend on this coalition for many of its wins. Robert Higgs, whom we cited earlier, says bluntly that “the New Deal served as a massive vote-buying scheme.”

The Snowball Effect

Lyndon_B._Johnson,_photo_portrait,_leaning_on_chair,_color_croppedWe see this dependency not just in the Roosevelt era, but particularly during and since the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with building a coalition to support a cause, to use taxpayer money to strengthen a political party’s power—and to make constituents dependent on that money in the process—are actions that are especially unethical and wrong. It’s apparent that President Johnson was quite pleased at the prospect of bribing and manipulating voters—especially black voters—to increase his own party’s power.

If you don’t remember or haven’t heard what Johnson said privately about civil rights legislation when he was a senator and about his “Great Society” programs when he was president, you need to know. Go here to read these statements. Also recall the apparently deliberate misrepresentations of so-called black leaders with regard to the Three-Fifths Compromise. In each of these situations, the goal is the same—more power.

The unethical nature of creating dependency for votes is only one problem with government “entitlement” programs. Another big problem is that the stated goals of these efforts never are realized. In fact, since the welfare system was set up, things have worsened for those the system was supposed to help. African American economist and political commentator Walter Williams has rightly declared, “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do. And that is to destroy the black family.”

The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do. And that is to destroy the black family.
Walter E. Williams

Yet another huge problem with wealth transfer programs—not just welfare but Social Security and other such programs, is the inability of taxpayers to sustain them as the number of recipients continues to increase. In other words, there’s a snowball effect. In a National Review article, journalist Michael Tanner asks, “How long can a shrinking number of taxpayers support a growing number of beneficiaries?” It’s a great question.


poster from the late 1930s or early 1940s marketing the “benefits” of Social Security

Advocates of government intervention to meet people’s needs focus on compassion and whether or not the action or the program makes them feel good. Bill Voegeli, the Senior Editor at the Claremont Institute, explains this important dynamic in progressives’ approach to government in this PragerU video.

The Bottom Line

Here’s the bottom line. Even though Arthur W. Mitchell, the first black Democrat, was elected and reelected to Congress by narrow margins, his wins reflected the beginning of a change in Americans’ perception about the role of government in people’s private lives. Even more importantly, Mitchell’s electoral contests—as well as Roosevelt’s landslide wins in 1932 and 1936 and his decisive wins in 1940 and 1944—reflected the beginning of a change in the nation’s perspective on rights. The ignorance Thomas Jefferson feared can, to a large extent, be effectively countered when citizens understand the Founders’ views on rights and why that perspective squares with reality.

FDR’s election and his subsequent reelections, as well as Arthur W. Mitchell’s election and reelections to Congress, reflect that the country was beginning to change its perspective on rights. It is critical for us to understand the Founders’ views on rights as well as the new perspective on rights the country was beginning to embrace. Why? The country has fully embraced the revisionist view today, and we need to combat this misinformation with the truth. America’s Founders got it right!

A quick review: To secure rights like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion, government needs to stay out of the way and allow people to exercise those rights; but to secure rights like the “right” to food and shelter, government has to take wealth from its citizens and redistribute it so it can meet those needs.

Aren’t you concerned about hunger and housing? someone will ask. Of course we are! We’re simply saying it isn’t government’s primary role to meet these and similar needs. Please read and review our series on Americans’ posture with regard to rights. This is critical information.

Misinformed and Misled: An Eight-Part Series on America’s Distorted Perspective on Rights

In the 1930s, the 1960s, and beyond, progressives saw a golden opportunity for themselves. Unfortunately, they took advantage of it; and quite frankly, in doing so, they have exploited Americans who already were at an economic disadvantage. Moreover, it is not coincidental that to effectively promote the entitlement mentality that strengthens their power, Democrats have had to misrepresent history, including the Founders’ views on race, and liberty, and rights.

To effectively promote the entitlement mentality that strengthens their power, Democrats have had to misrepresent history, including the Founders’ views on race, liberty, and rights.

Republicans and other concerned citizens need to call them out, but they know there’s a risk in doing so. They’ll be called racists and practically every other pejorative name in the book.

Next week, we’ll explore this tactic, another manipulative strategy in progressives’ playbook.


Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.


Top image: A line of unemployed men waiting outside a soup kitchen opened by Al Capone in Chicago, 1931



1As an aside, the Bible upholds both hard work and Christian generosity as means to meet the needs of individuals who are unable to work to provide for themselves and their families. When government took over the job of helping the poor, the church stepped away from it. The church should reassert itself in this area.

2A. J. Hoover, Don’t You Believe It! Poking Holes in Faulty Logic, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1982), 67.


4The statements from Howard E. Kirshner’s book, The Menace of Roosevelt and His Policies, are quoted by Richard M. Ebeling in “Monetary Central Planning and the State, Part XIV: The New Deal and Its Critics,” Freedom Daily, February 1998, p. 15.

5Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People, Volume Three, 306.

6William J. Bennett, America: the Last Best Hope, Volume II: From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom, 1914-1989, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 114.