Our Own Nation!
Post: A Republican Exodus?
Our Own Nation!
I watched the Ten Commendments movie last night, starring the late Charlton Heston and directed by Cecil B. DeMille in 1956. In one scene, the Lord God gives Moses the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. It ranks as one of the most moving and dramatic scenes in the history of cinema. The Lord God leads Moses up Mount Sinai and carves the Commandments from the stone wall with fiery fingers. DeMille had done his research and knew the fiery fingers would start from the right and write left. Biblical scholars will recognize the Hebrew text from the Gezer Calendar, circa 850 BC, the earliest known example of written Hebrew. The fiery fingers and the dramatic musical score make it a memorable scene, thrilling and triumphant. Then Moses descends from the high place. The few Israelites who have accompanied him up the mountain see him with the two tablets and bow almost involuntarily. The music becomes intimately quiet in tone, with an equally moving effect.
But the movie really tells the Exodus story, of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. In one scene, Moses tells the Children of Israel, living as slaves in Egypt, "Remember, o, Israel, the Lord God has led you out of slavery. Remember this day forever!" Then Moses turns his back on Egypt and marches purposefully toward the endless desert. The Israelites follow him in a noisy parade with their meagre belongings and bleating animals—overjoyed at the prospect of leaving hateful Egypt.
Moses leads the people of Israel out of Egypt, with the promise of a new life in their own country, Israel, the new nation they will establish together. He leads them into seemingly endless desert, but the prospect of their own nation enthralls them. So popular was the movie among Jews, at least one TV network broadcast it every year during Passover.
As they travel farther into the wilderness, however, the people go astray and worship foreign gods. A nation-builder must understand that the Israelites have left behind the controlling structure of the Egyptian yoke. It has, to an extent, uprooted them. The independence they once craved may cause their destruction.
Moses retreats to a place high up on Mount Sinai. The Lord God meets him there and hands him the the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets. Now, the Israelites have not just the future of a life in their own national home, they have a leader who will take them there, and also a legal foundation for the new nation to guide their actions.
I had already seen The Ten Commandments several times, and I knew the story by heart. I watched it nevertheless, with the expectation of a people delivered from an intolerable existence as slaves—given the promise of nationhood and accepting the inherent risks of an independent life, in order to "assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station which the laws of Nature and Nature's God entitle them," as Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence.
Surely someone in America can find inspiration from this ancient biblical story and use it to deliver the American people from their bondage to disunity, browbeating, and fear. With a new vision and a new nation, they can enter a new era of unity, the assurance of shared values, and common sense of purpose.
How Long Must We Tolerate This?
Americans live everyday with a near-fatal political division. It causes heaps of antipathy, paranoia, and resentment, enough to contaminate every man, woman, and child in the nation—as dangerous as the Covid-19, but more gradual and insidious than any virus or incubus. As Americans, we carry on bravely, dealing with the political tirades, waves of accusations from both sides. We hope in our hearts that some superior being will rescue us or blast us into oblivion. Real life shouldn't work like that. We should fix the problems ourselves.
First, we know we have a problem—the political divisions. Our knee-jerk response—"Can't we all just get along?" Lingering collective identity as Americans makes us ask, "Can't we put the unity of the nation above divisive politics?" The lingering American can-do spirit says, "Let's put aside our differences, put our collective shoulder to the wheel, and move the nation forward!" but the rhetoric cannot get into specific how-to's, because there aren't any.
I can say unequivocally that real-life does not work like that. It has not, and it will not. All we do is hide our dislike and mistrust, then wait until someone touches the spring on the jack-in-the-box and knocks our teeth out. For Democrats, Donald Trump hides in the box; for Republicans, the nation's new President Joe Biden. Although they serve as leaders of our country, they also serve as targets of our abuse, in nearly equal measure. I want to radio a warning to mission-control: "America, we have a problem!"
For all his off-putting bluster, former President Trump has made one important contribution to the root of the problem: he goaded Americans into taking sides. The truth is that everyone had already taken sides. Trump just brought the divide into the open—exposed the hidden aspects of it, so that we know we have a problem, and the problem is not Trump. After all, half the nation voted for him. The problem is the diverging directions of the political mandates that the Democrat and Republican voters give their leaders.
The division has already happened. The public needs to wake up and take notice. Our leaders need to start talking constructive changes to head off the inevitable destructive changes that will occur if we do nothing.
Nationhood or Emigration?
How much Americans need to think pro-actively about the conflict in the nation emerged after the election of President Donald Trump in 2016. Many Americans said they did not consider him the legitimate President and felt only disgust and hostility toward him. Democrat journalists published their personal feelings in magazine articles and on their blogs. Many admitted that they wanted to leave the country. A dozen or more prominent celebrities announced that they planned to leave the country. Most wanted to relocate to Canada, others to Australia.
The article "'I really will,' the Stars Who Didn't Move to Canada," by Ashifa Kassam in Toronto and Benjamin Lee in New York, appeared in the British newspaper The Guardian on 22 January 2018, sniffing at those performers who never followed through with their plans. The article continues, "In the first 11 months of 2017, the number of applications by Americans to study in Canada swelled by 29 %, to 3,057." Moreover, unregistered aliens in the U.S. have fled to Canada by the thousands.
The editorial staff at The Guardian also weigh in, saying "America is at a crossroads . . . and the coming days will define the country for a generation. . . . Much of what The Guardian holds dear has been threatened—democracy, civility, truth."
The Guardian article, and the others like it, appeared after the election of Trump and just before the election of Biden. Their dogmatic stance suggests few negotiable positions. Submission to a higher moral principle, or something like that, provides them with many answers, but few questions.
The purity of liberal thought suggests it needs to reconnect with terra firma—preferably on its own turf, to get a reality check, if only of a trial basis.
I only suggest this because none of the articles—so tried and true—say anything about dividing the country to recover Democrat principles independently of the Republicans. The Democrats prefer to seek shelter in someone else's country—reflecting their defeatism more than their values. Why not recover their value system, political prerogatives, and trust in other people in a nation of their own? The durability of their principles would ensure that the new nation succeeds.
Democrats judge their value system as superior to the Republican system, but that superiority lacks an independent streak. Their need for self-confidence amounts to a collective faith in themselves—another way of saying that they need a sense of identity as an independent political force. They will need plenty of courage, as well as the sense to differentiate courage from wrecklessness. They need inspiration as a spiritual source of courage to withstand the inevitable blowback from pursuing such a goal; but pursuing nationhood gives them more street-cred than fleeing to other countries.
A Republican Exodus?
I hope to hell not! Reading the articles about Democrats who threaten to leave the country reminds me of my own childhood. When I got mad at my parents, I told them, "I'm gonna wun away from home!" They played it cool—didn't say anything like "Be back in time for supper," or openly jeer at me. Why doesn't someone call out the nation-fleeing Democrats? Tell them to be back in time for din-din? Taunt them about their lack on intentionality, their inability to think big thoughts?
I have written in earlier posts my belief that the Democrats lack the spirit of '76, the spiritual force in people like Washington and Jefferson that enabled them to create our nation. Except for Jefferson and one or two others, most of the Founders would vote Republican. Nationhood is a Republican concept; we express our love of nationhood with patriotism and saluting the flag. The Constitution as a limiter and enabler of a law-abiding people is a Republican document. It supports a nation of laws and not of men. The Founders feared a straight democracy—rule by the people. They feared the passions and hatreds of the masses, because they understood how one man can dupe civilized people and turn them into a violent mob.
So now that a Democrat occupies the White House, Republicans have to ask themselves what does the Tea Party really mean to them? A chance to destroy other people's property? If the answer is an unequivocal "No!" then the Tea Party as a political entity has to pursue independence, as their ideological ancestors did--even if it entails fighting. If someone asks, "Is all this really worth it?" We have to answer "Hell, yeah, it's worth it!"
Democrats tend to express their feelings very well. Republicans typically hide theirs. Both groups express their anger or angst best when driving their cars. Think of the SOBs on the Interstate who cut you off before you can pass, who drively slowly in the left-hand lane. If you could pull them over and ask them why they do it, they will probably express some anger about the political situation. If you can draw them out, they will tell you exactly what they think of Trump, Biden, Nacy Pelosi, Rush Limbaugh, and the host of other strident public figures. Like the greater political divide they represent, their opinions will fall fairly neatly in one or the other political camp. The media has conditioned them to think in terms of friends and enemies.
Cosmopolitan magazine published a typically Democrat article on 17 January 2017: "I Didn't Like the New President, So I Moved to Another Country," by Rebecca Nelson. The article profiles the stories of four Democrats who lamented the election of President Trump and decided to leave the country.
The article also reports that the 2016 election impacted Americans as more divisive and vitriolic than any that they have experienced. To some extent, the divisions reflect the outlier personalities of the men who stood for the presidency. More than that, however, the election of 2016 witnesses a people with different and exclusive convictions and priorities. They hate to see the political stasis put the brakes on issues important to them. So why not divide the country, so that both parties can get what they want? Perhaps the lust for payback tempts too many people, which a division cannot satisfy, and they press on for more dubious gain.
I vote Republican because I have confidence in the Republican talking-points as the path to wealth, national defense, secure borders, and safe streets. The last thing I want to read is that Republicans have flown the coop, that they take the same course the Democrats took—to wun(sic) away from home, rather than create a nation that suits their needs better. I reiterate that the two political parties can govern themselves better in their own nations than either party can, governing both sides.
Choosing nationhood is really a no-brainer, if you think about it.
The Reality of National Bigness
The authors Fletcher Knebel and Charles Bailey collaborated on a novel titled Seven Days in May that they published in 1962, right in the heart of the Cold War. It made quite a stir and appeared as a movie in 1964 starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. The film-script written by The Twilight Zone's own Rod Serling, moves the novel a good bit Left, focusing criticism on the military.
During the Cold War, opinion regarding America's stance against the Soviet Union took a divisive turn. Most of America supported a strong defense and containment of Soviet aggression, but a vocal minority supported a rapprochement, a policy that took the official name Détente, from the French word meaning "disarmament". The Nixon administrartion adopted Détente as official policy seven years later.
The military's frontline position in the Cold War and its lingering mistrust of Soviet motives and the wherewithal to mount an attack on the U.S. goads the Joint Chiefs of Staff to mount a conspiracy to seize power. The President at first cannot believe they would do this. He asks a congressman for his opinion: "But you don't really think that the military would try to seize the government just because they are underpaid, do you?"
The congressman replies, "Of course not. But it's part of the climate. Jordie, this country is in a foul mood. It's not just the treaty (with the Soviets), or the missile strikes (labor action). . . . It's the awful frustration that just keeps building up and up. . . ."
"But a Pentagon plot?" Lyman asked.
"I'm talking about the climate, Jordie. The move could come from anywhere."
So, disunity and division are nothing new in this country, and the fact that "the move could come from anywhere," during a crisis, must have worried a lot of people. It makes you wonder who your real friends are.
No one knows that better than the President of the United States. In Seven Days in May, he looks through countless files to see which members of his cabinet he can trust with the knowledge of a conspiracy by the nation's military leaders:
page 84: Mentally, (the President) began to thumb through his administration, ticking off men he'd appointed in the sixteen months since his inauguration.
Page 85: He hadn't gone far before he realized . . . he was discarding name after name of men he had picked to do important jobs, but who couldn't be counted on for this one:
- personal secretary Girard, yes;
- Senator Ray Clark, yes;
- the Secretary of State, no;
- the press secretary, no;
- the special counsel, no;
- the Secret Service Chief, yes.
After that, the President "ran through the deputy secretaries and assistant secretaries, the numbers of commissions, even the courts. . . . He really didn't know any of these men well."
Seven Days in May should give the reader something to think about, namely that the President of the United States can feel a bit isolated. He has to deal with difficult issues and risk antagonizing his closest associates when he keeps them at arm's length. He has to trust in very few people, and in the contemporary context, the insights could not be more topical.
An Uneasy World and Conflicting Voices
Leo Tolstoy also weighs in with a realistic presentation of government in its highest ranks, in his novel War and Peace. In early 19th century Russia, a monarchy ruled the Empire—called a "Tsar" or "Czar" in Russian. Tolstoy writes with the confident hand of a government official, as if for a limited-circulation memorandum:
"The above-mentioned were the most prominent personages about the Tsar, and among them, the foreigners were in the ascendant." Tolstoy's reference to the Tsar and his "foreign personages" is interesting since the Tsar himself was more German than Russian. Tolstoy continues, "In this vast, brilliant, haughty, and uneasy world, among all these conflicting voices, Prince Andrey (one of the main characters of War and Peace) detected the following sharply opposed parties and differences of opinion."
Not unlike America's own situation, Russia felt threatened by Napoleon Bonaparte and the French army, and needed to mobilize its own army to defend the nation. Like America, the leaders had a variety of opinions about how to proceed. Sometimes the leaders had sharply opposing opinions about each other.
"The first party consisted of Pfuel (a German General) and his adherents—military theorists who believed in a science of war with immutable laws. . . .
"The second party was directly opposed to it. . . . They were Russians. . . .
"The third party, with whom the Emperor expressed the most confidence belonged to courtiers who . . . spoke and reasoned as men usually do who have no convictions but wish to pass as if they do have them. . . .
"The eighth and largest group . . . desire neither peace nor war, neither an advance or a defensive camp . . . but only as much advantage and pleasure for themselves. . . ."
Think of that! At least eight groups of people bunched around the highest levels of the government, all of them clamoring to make their opinions known. Tolstoy writes that Prince Andrey was picking up signs that another group "was being formed and was beginning to raise its voice. This was the party of the elders, reasoned men, experienced and capable in state affairs . . . to consider the means to escape from this muddle, indecision, intricacy, and weakness."
Making the situation much worse is the detachment from the daily affairs of state by the head of the nation, the Tsar Alexander. One senses that the statesmen and military leaders routinely bypass the Tsar and communicate only with each other, leading to the conclusion that this crisis will not end neatly, if it ends at all.
The point I am trying to make is that America not only has disunity working against its forward progress, it also has to recognize the limits of organization and leadership to deal with the problem. The many organizations, coalitions, and unofficial advisers all have solutions and add to the clamor of a leader's normal workday. The limitations of working-knowledge within a leadership-clique also hinder their ability to utilize the many organizations and advisers who can help them. Bigness in a nation does not transition so neatly to the notion of collective strength and resolve.
Americans need to wise up to the political realities of their own modern nation and undertake some overdue adjustments in its administration. There are more wheels within wheels that run our nation than anyone is willing to recognize.