Realpolitik, Real Progress, Religious Liberty and Natural Realism
by Frank Wynerth Summers III on Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 2:39pm ·
I am thinking about the United States of America on this Sunday before Presidents Day. It is typical of my thoughts over recent years that I am mostly thinking fairly gloomy thoughts. I have always had a mixture of happy and unhappy thoughts but the drift towards unhappy thoughts has been pronounced in recent years. I think of how this political system began with a bit of nostalgia perhaps: ”
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
‘In the course of human events” is a simple phrase but shows in its own way belief in natural law which is not highly restrictive but is sincere. Then the document recognizes both historic peoplehood and the national and state functions of society as separate but real and authentic human goods. There was a belief that each people’s national and state institutions must be responsible for itself and the legal status of its inhabitants. Then there was a belief that nonethless formal recognition of international law and custom should be observed and that in the context of a decent respect for the opinions of mankind. This international process was to establish the national sovereignties in which almost all the real work would be done. When I hear us spouting endless litanies of criticisms and requirements at the leaders of varied countries such as China I wonder where we draw our political will to behave as the jackasses we make of ourselves. All political interaction between sovereign nations has to occur in a certain framework.
The real truth is that America has many fine institutions of higher learning which attract some of the best minds around and do at least a competent job of educating them. America has a fairly professional police community at all levels which keeps order in most places most of the time without starting a new bloodbath. America has many hundreds of thousand of miles of roads and sewers and power lines which work above the international average. America has good food safety, abundant clean water at the taps and plenty of decent shops. All of these things are to be applauded and they make America a good place to live in many ways. They also make it hard to change the country as they should since they remind us of how much is going right and could be worse. Yet I do desire a good bit of change and have my reasons for wanting these changes. Therefore I am going beyond these obvious good factors to consider the rest of the truth about this country.
Aside from the role the Acadians played in the roots and origins of the conflict which became the American Revolution and the War of Independence the Acadians also helped turn France to ading America and that was decisive in winning the conflict. Then in addition, during the revolutionaty period Acadians had already begun to found the New Acadia in Spanish Louisiana where their Catholic Majesties acknowledged their special rights and leaders. In 1779 some of these Acadians fought under the Spanish Flag as allies of the United States against the United Kingdom of Great Britain. As members of the St.Martinville Militia they conquered Baton Rough in British West Florida. This also ties the histories together. But what we have today is a dismal and unenlightened view of our national past and destiny with little color of right or honor.
The time has come to continue my plod into the dismal revelation of the reasons why I believe that only a particular set of radical changes can save the United States of America from a dark pit which surpasses most others into which great powers have fallen. This comes from someone who admit that he holds to a higher standard than what is accepted by most of the world as relatively respectable and yet I am saying that by the standard of the world as a whole we are in a state of existential crisis. This reminds me of why we have the US Constitution we currently have. According to the document itself: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Notice that the constitution applies to the Congress and the people they represent rather than to the whole world and to their posterity. I and my family do in fact descend from these people but even if I did not I have other lines of descent clearly protected. It clearly extends to me and to other descendants of the previous inhabitants of the Louisiana Purchase territories by the language of the Treaty among other means of transmitting those rights. Thus, ” The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States and admitted as soon as possible according to the principles of the federal Constitution to the enjoyment of all these rights, advantages and immunities of citizens of the United States, and in the mean time they shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property and the Religion which they profess.” These are not the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but specific rights of citizens and in the case of those from the Louisiana Purchase these rights and liberties could differ in degrees as proper in th old meaning of property. We go around today with little consciousness of what lawful liberty entails. I am not saying that no new persons can achieve rights and protections from these documents but the tone has to be one of realism. I am saying that we have fallen for out of the path for which the Constitution was established. I am certainly slipping from a position of critical and protesting misery to something darker and more foreboding in my views about life and society around me. We have a false universalism attaching to this country which is toxic and insidious. The Louisiana Purchase Treaty among other things assures that French ships will forever receive most favored nation status in ports found in Louisiana Purchase Territories. Distinctions, history and merit are part of the making of American liberty in Law.
Acadians and many others from this region of Louisiana also fouht in the Battle of New Orleans which has been diminished in history but was the most crucial battle in securing American autonomy because in it the British were soundly defeated in a large and well-respected force by a group of Americans in the broadest sense who had no support from a European Army or Navy. The long and hard -earned struggle for a precious independent liberty was marked by many of the ame families and peoples with a number of new additions who had become part of the growing America.
I do not like the fact of the shrinking space program, I do not like the way we relate to many of the other countries with whom we interact. I do not like the way we approach everyone with a truly infinite list of things we wish to change about their country while our strength, dignity and credibility continue to plummet.
This is another gloomy and depressing note mostly about the shape of things in America. It is coming from someone in a state of greater than usual isolation from the mainstream of the country’s development and place in the world.
Iran appears to be proceeding in its plan to complete an atomic arsenal with all deliberate speed. This is happening as we withdraw from Iraq and build down in Afghanistan and as we see the Muslim Brotherhood leading the parliament and government in Egypt. Persian Shiite Muslim power is arrayed for a new contest and set of challenges even as the Arab world undergoes a set of tensions and transformations. President Barack Obama’s late morning appearance in the White House Briefing Room a few Fridays ago to discuss contraception and religious charities was one more event in this country’s long struggle with issues of religious liberty. However, there is very little sense of how liberty has beeen achieved and maintained and by whom. The son of a seemingly lost American white woman and an African Muslim Communist cannot be expected to hold the same affection for our constitutional struggles as many Americans do. However, the truth is that our country as a whole is thinking that liberty and free governance magically appear based on universal forces we just make up.
America is in so very many ways caught in a state of sever delusion. This is not unusual in human history, However, it is tragic. It was never a perfect country, never as exceptionally good as all our leaders are required tro say it was and is. But it was for a long time a place where people knew the struggle for liberty and justice as the costly and enduring process it is and found it worthwhile anyway. Increasingly now it is and has been a land where everyone can tell we are sprouting off nonsense we do not understand about matter to which we have no real right to opine except whatever right our aircraft carriers can give us.
If we can do the hard work of our own lawful liberty we will find we can share a bit with others. If we think it falls out of the ther we will neither kee ours nor help others to build theirs effectively. George Bush’s views on Democracy were amazingly naive and yet he may be remembered as the last toughminded constitutional President of the United States. Louisiana is a a State where Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Jackson all had some of their reputation made long before our only President — Old Rough and Ready, Zachary Taylor. Yet today those stories don’t carry the weight they once did for we do not really now what liberty in law is all about any more. We do not know how it comes to be or how to preserve liberty here or abroad.