“Abolish God, and the Government becomes God…Wherever the people do not believe in something beyond the world, they will worship the world. But, above all, they will worship the strongest thing in the world.”
— G.K. Chesterton
“Well, you’ve touched on it to a degree. He made so many promises. We thought that he was going to be — I shouldn’t say this at Christmastime, but — the next Messiah.”
When I was in my early 20s, a man I greatly admired once asked me, how did early governments keep people obedient? I stammered something irrelevant and nonsensical about laws and soldiers. He smiled, took a slow and deliberate drag on his cigarette, looked at me over the rim of his glasses and said, “Religion.” He went on to explain how in the earliest days of mankind, only a very small percentage of people were educated and those likely to be schooled fell into two camps: the clergy and royalty. Being learned, they realized they were vastly outnumbered by the rest of the populace. They needed to create a belief system to control the behavior of the people, thereby controlling the citizenry itself. What better way to ensure survival than the promise of paradise for civility and submission and eternal damnation for disobedience and anarchy?
The will to survive is one of the strongest drives we possess. Since our earliest days as sentient beings, this trait has become so embedded in our psyche that it’s nearly impossible to ignore and one of the explanations as to why we have religion, in all of it’s myriad forms. Humans want to believe there are bigger or greater forces at work with sway over our lives. We have an inexplicable need to believe in something outside of ourselves, whether it’s fantastical entities like God, Buddha, Allah, Cthulhu, Gaia or Mother Nature, or more tangible ones like science, mathematics or philosophy, just to name a few. The fact remains, we are wired with the need to believe in something.
As we have grown and evolved as a species, our knowledge and our capabilities have exploded. Sorcery and myth have given way to physics and logic. Yet, our underlying need for belief remains. We may never really know if the early clergy or royalty manipulated this belief to their own gain or if there really are forces at work beyond our comprehension. We can save that debate for another day. What is of more interest is what happens if the idea of religion is diminished or eliminated? Doesn’t something have to fill the void?
The political class has been leveraging this concept for nearly as long as the invention of government. In much the same way our behaviors can be controlled through the dogma of religion, so too can the citizenry be controlled by political leaders when they convince us to place our beliefs into the collection plate of government.
George Brock Chisholm, Director of the UN from 1948 until 1953, went so far as to say, in a speech given at the Conference on Education in California on September 11, 1954, “To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, loyalty to family traditions, national patriotism, and religious dogmas.” Looking back from where we are today, it becomes easy to track the progress that has been made toward this end. Statists seek to limit or reduce the significance of the individual over the needs of the collective. The dismantling of the family has been a goal of radical progressives who seek to replace one (or both) parents with the state. Cultural relativists seek to rewrite history to remove the ‘stigma’ of patriotism and eliminate the belief in American exceptionalism. And, the assault on many of the tenants of Christianity have been underway for years.
Today’s social liberals understand, to create a dependence on the state, other existing belief systems have to be curtailed. When a person has a well-defined and robust support structure around them, it is much harder to convince them to put their fate in the hands of the government. However, destroy the family structure, teach them there is no such thing as the “American Dream”, get them to question the merits of the Founding Fathers and shatter their belief in the relevance of the Constitution and now there is a void needing to be filled. We begin to look for a new foundation on which to place our faith. Sometimes that foundation becomes the pedestal upon which someone can stand who is willing to tell us everything we want to hear.
This helps explain the deification of President Barack Obama. Many conservatives struggled during the run up of the 2008 election to shed light on the wafer-thin veneer of Barack Obama’s “hope and change” campaign. They tried to reveal the danger in conferring such a deist-like mantle, which so many lauded without hesitation, on a mere mortal. A confluence of circumstances, however, created the perfect environment for the nomination and election of someone who promised everything to everyone. From free phones to extended unemployment to increased social program spending to the promise of cheaper and better healthcare, the never-ending list of largess promised from the coffers of the federal treasury made it feel more like we had elected Santa Claus than a President. After all, there was plenty of wealth to spread around and, at some point, everyone has made enough money. No one in our nation built their businesses on their own. It was time for the Occupiers to be recognized as the 99% who did all the work while the 1% took all the rewards. It was time to take from each, according to their abilities, and give to each, according to their needs.
And the more the naysayers forecast doom and shouted warnings about debt, unfunded mandates and impossible to fulfill promises, the bigger the giveaways and the more popular the President became.
No one had paid attention to the words of Valerie Jarrett, co-chair of Barack Obama’s transition team, to Tom Brokaw of NBC on November 10, 2008, when she said, “Given the daunting challenges that we face, it’s important that president elect Obama is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one.” Not govern. Not support, defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, but to take power and rule.
Over the last five years, the Executive Branch has played fast and loose with which laws they choose to enforce (or pieces of them) and which they will not. The lies and obfuscation mount daily on one scandal after another, from the targeting of conservative groups and individuals by the IRS (where there is obvious collusion between the FEC and the IRS) to the “what difference does it make” cover-up surrounding the Benghazi attack. They continue to obfuscate the facts around the gun running operation, Fast and Furious, that led to the deaths of two Americans and countless other Mexicans. Instead of seeking answers from Eric Holder and the Justice Department, the government chose to sue the state of Arizona for enforcing the laws of the United States and the state of Texas and North Carolina for enforcing voter ID laws. The NSA has been revealed to be spying on anything and everyone, not just around the globe, but in our own country and nothing has been done to rein in these mass data sweeps and unwarranted seizures supposedly protected under the fourth amendment.
And, speaking of amendments, let’s look at the damage that has been done to three of them as a result of all of the aforementioned scandals: the first (IRS), second (Fast and Furious) and fourth (NSA). The only amendment they seem to want to keep 100% intact is the fifth!
Now, with the culmination of this executive power overreach, Americans are being forced to deal with the abomination that is the Affordable Care Act, aka, Obamacare. Millions have already lost health insurance and millions more will follow. Enrollment is abysmal and the young, healthy enrollees the government counted on to offset the older, sicker ones, are non-existent. By a ratio of 3 to 1, enrollees are being placed in Medicaid instead of a private insurance plan, promising to break an already overburdened social program. The national website, Healthcare.gov, ended up costing in excess of $600 million dollars (HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified that $677 billion had been allocated thus far, but could go higher). This is roughly 13 times what was budgeted and it still does not work. Add to that all of the patches and fixes being kludged together and the cost will exceed a billion taxpayer dollars wasted on a website that should have never been launched in the first place. The security flaws alone make it a national security risk and by the latest count, over 700 fraudulent sites have been built by identity thieves to mine the treasure trove of personal information available to them thanks to the sheer stupidity of a White House too smart to listen to anyone but themselves. It’s like President Ronald Reagan so famously put it, “The trouble with our Liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”
Maybe those who have been beguiled by the promises and the incessant campaigning of the President are finally starting to see the serious flaw in the deification of any politician. Like Barbara Walters admits, expecting Barack Obama to be the next Messiah was too much to ask. Maybe now the tendency of so many to turn their gaze the other way with respect to all of the political scandals in Washington, D.C. will fade. Maybe those who put all of their faith in President Obama will start to realize he is only a man.
Perhaps, he should have been properly vetted, like any other candidate running for any other office. Perhaps we should not have taken it on blind faith that he would be the panacea for all our ills. Perhaps we should have realized how shortsighted it is to blindly give our allegiance to a politician based on the promise of a few baubles and an award-winning smile.
Human beings may be wired to put their belief in something but, when forced to place that belief in something as flawed and weak as a single human being, we should not be surprised when the biggest lies being told to us aren’t from that politician, but from ourselves. It’s time to put our beliefs into something bigger and stronger.
There is still time.