As Heidt sees it, the “liberty” folks want to have the freedom to live their lives as they wish, so long as their freedom doesn’t inpinge on others’. The folks who appeal to karma, however, are those who want the traditional American playing-field righted: they want the government to stop punishing the productive, rules-following and economically successful members of society while coddling and rewarding those who break the rules or fail economically.
Heidt doesn’t cite a source for his understanding of American-style karma, perhaps supposing it’s lost in the mythical past of our nation’s founding. I can suggest a source, however — one that was familiar to the Founders as well as to Christians of every generation since. It’s found in St. Paul’s second letter to the believers at Thessaloniki (2 Thess 3:6-13), in which he instructs them on how to live as followers of Jesus Christ:
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it.
On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”
We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
This statement is one of the core teachings of Christianity regarding daily life, and lies at the heart of what Max Weber dubbed the “Protestant work ethic.” The American belief that one must take personal responsibility for one’s actions, and that liberty allows one the freedom to succeed — or to fail — based on one’s behavior, has been a core U.S. value until, perhaps, quite recently.
I agree with Heidt that much of the anger of Tea Partiers — as well as that of millions more who don’t think of themselves as Tea Partiers — stems from the belief that government, led by the Federal government, has in one or two generations radically changed the fundamental equation of liberty. It used to be that at every level of society, people were taught from childhood to work hard, play fair, “keep your nose clean,” and things would work out well for you.
One important aspect of St. Paul’s teaching has been forgotten, however, and into that gap the government has stepped. Paul was writing to a community of born-again, Holy Spirit-filled Christians whose love and care for one another — especially for the poor among them — was remarkable in the ancient world. Tertullian’s comment, “See how they love one another,” was understood as proof that yielding oneself to the leadership of King Jesus resulted in a moral transformation visible to believer and unbeliever alike.
Though not every American has professed faith in Jesus Christ throughout our history, the nation has been known as one that believes and practices its Christian faith. The French writer Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1835, “Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention.” More recently, English writer G. K. Chesterton described America as “a nation with the soul of a church.”
One thing that American had in common with St. Paul’s congregations was that people looked out for one another — they made sure the less-fortunate were helped, as fellow-heirs of Christ. I’m not talking about perfection here, but the general attitude of Americans. One recalls that in Little Women, the March family — though not wealthy themselves – provided food and other assistance to neighbors worse-off than themselves. (Our nation still exhibits this Christian charity every year as we hurry around the world to every disaster, bringing all types of help and not asking for anything in return.)
In the Great Depression, however, President Roosevelt decided not to rely on established networks of charity and relief to relieve the suffering of unemployment and poverty. Instead — with the support of Congress — he established new governmental programs to take over the charitable function. These programs, which included make-work jobs as well as Social Security, were not authorized by the U.S. Constitution. In the 1960s, President Johnson expanded Roosevelt’s New Deal with his own War on Poverty and Great Society, which included welfare and Medicare. All these programs used tax dollars, not freely given contributions, as funding. And these programs extended the de facto authority of government into the lives of every citizen, needy or not.
As a result of the New Deal, Great Society and Every citizen is now eligible for some type of tax-borne governmental assistance program. And while the government has yet to produce the document that authorizes its action, the government now compels every citizen and permanent-resident alien to enter and pay taxes to the Social Security system.
It’s this extra-constitutional, ever-growing, government intrusion into the daily fabric of our lives that has finally angered millions of Americans, who still believe everyone should play by the rules while doing their best to help others less fortunate. The tipping point has been reached, and Americans want to tip it back — now.
Heidt’s closing paragraph is a good summary of what many Americans are looking for, in the November 2nd election and beyond:
The rank-and-file tea partiers think that liberals turned America upside down in the 1960s and 1970s, and they want to reverse many of those changes. They are patriotic and religious, and they want to see those values woven into their children’s education. Above all, they want to live in a country in which hard work and personal responsibility pay off and laziness, cheating and irresponsibility bring people to ruin. Give them liberty, sure, but more than that: Give them karma.
John Lillipop at American Conservative Daily imagines the cave-in that trapped 33 Chilean miners happening a bit differently. What if this crisis, rather than the Obama oil spill disaster, had occurred over the summer — how might it have played out?
Here are the first two events in Lillipop’s sequence:
- On August 5, Obama claims that the mine disaster was “inherited” from the Bush administration, which blocked urgently needed regulatory reform in order to pacify Wall Street investors.
- Obama promises “immediate action” to reform mine safety with a host of new regulations that could ultimately bankrupt the coal industry, thereby ending coal mine disasters forever.
The New York Times‘ Peter Baker has written a long article for the Sunday Magazine examining President Obama and his White House staff nearly two years after the 2008 election, titled The Education of President Obama. It’s the kind of thoughtful, analytical piece that should be a reaffirmation of everything for which the Times helped elect Obama — showcasing his wisdom, his wit, his amazing policy successes, and his bright prospects for 2011 – 2012 and his expected second term.
Instead, it’s a total downer, highlighting Obama’s opacity, arrogance and inability to accept that Americans have rejected his entire agenda. He and the White House staff are depicted as insulated from, and dismissive of, the nation’s mood nearly two years into his failed presidency. (If the Times allowed this to be published, what must the Left be saying in private about their messiah?) Obama’s lack of self-reflection or willingness to consider opposing viewpoints shine through, in statements like this one:
As we talked in the Oval Office, Obama acknowledged that the succession of so many costly initiatives, necessary as they may have been, wore on the public. “That accumulation of numbers on the TV screen night in and night out in those first six months I think deeply and legitimately troubled people,” he told me. “They started feeling like: Gosh, here we are tightening our belts, we’re cutting out restaurants, we’re cutting out our gym membership, in some cases we’re not buying new clothes for the kids. And here we’ve got these folks in Washington who just seem to be printing money and spending it like nobody’s business.
“And it reinforced the narrative that the Republicans wanted to promote anyway, which was Obama is not a different kind of Democrat — he’s the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat.”
Exactly so — he is a tax-and-spend liberal Democrat, only much worse. How can he not understand this at all?
If you’re into Schadenfreude, you’ll enjoy reading the entire piece. This quote, however, sums up the tone and message that Baker is telegraphing to Obama and the Democratic Party:
Obama advisers who left the White House recently have been struck how different, and worse, things look from the outside. As he made a round of corporate job interviews after stepping down as White House budget director, Peter Orszag was stunned to discover how deep the gulf between the president and business had become. “I’d thought it was an 8, but it’s more like a 10,” he told me. “And rather than wasting time debating whether it’s legitimate,” he added, referring to his former colleagues, “the key is to recognize that it’s affecting what they do.”
Orszag’s remark, “rather than wasting time debating whether it’s legitimate,” explains this president’s major problem in governing: he still can’t be convinced that anyone with a differing opinion just might be correct, and Obama wrong. Again I must ask, how can he not understand this at all? Is Obama truly a narcissist, or perhaps even a sociopath, as some have claimed?
Just before uploading this, I noticed a new post on Business Insider, headlined “Liberals Disgusted At Obama Over His Latest NYT Profile”. And the far-left David Corn, on his Mother Jones blog, this morning asks, “Could the White House have picked a worse time to open up to the New York Times about its mistakes?” (If the Left is saying this in public….)
Want to help elect conservative candidates on November 2nd, but don’t know where to focus your efforts? Easy answer: Election Day Tea Party 2010
Since February 2009, the Tea Party movement has inspired tens of thousands of people across the country to organize tea party rallies. These rallies have given millions of concerned, patriotic Americans a way to focus their energies.
Now comes the most important rally of all: Election Day Tea Party.
A group of volunteer tea party activists from every corner of America has come together to compile this list of the top 50 races in the House of Representatives. These incumbents in many cases voted for both the Stimulus and Obamacare. Of the 435 races currently underway for the control of your seats in Congress, these are the 50 contests where your individual efforts can help the challengers win.
This race is bigger than Barack Obama. It’s bigger than Nancy Pelosi. The 2010 election cycle has been rightly called the most important election of our lifetime for a reason. November 2 is our time of choosing. Will our republic succumb to the assault on our freedom by the Ruling Class currently controlling Congress? Or will We the People come to the polls in November and once again bury tyrannical designs in the ashcan of history?
We the People choose to save the republic.