Every now and then I get an email with the subject line “Is America a nation adrift?” When I noticed it again recently, it occurred to me that the question is outdated. There may have been a time when it was appropriate to see the crisis of this nation using the driftwood analogy. But given the choices – or rather, the lack of real choice – we are being offered this election year, it’s clear that America is no longer drifting. We are in fact caught in a strong current of evil. That current is speeding us toward our demise as a free people. It is carrying us further and further away from the premises of God-endowed right and rights – including liberty – that our nation was founded upon.
Tragically, the GOP’s nomination of Donald Trump proves that a lot of well-intentioned Americans are still living in the recent past, when the analogy of a ship adrift without a rudder still made some sense of America’s situation. But we are now being told we have no choice, for our life as a nation, but between two leaders whose lives have clearly been predicated on consorting with evil, if not serving it outright. Hillary Clinton has stopped at nothing in service to the idol of Power. Donald Trump has, with similar heedlessness, served that idol’s minion, Mammon, whose rituals include every contrivance of alluring pleasure money can procure.
To satisfy their ambitions, these individuals have routinely roused and exploited a licentiously self-seeking disposition among those who affiliate with or support them. That disposition has always been likely to dominate the lives of many people in the United States, particularly among those who are or who aspire to be our society’s elites. Thanks to the enormous material success our nation has achieved, the preoccupation with power and money is more alluring these days than at any time in the past.
Yet, in elections for national offices (the U.S. Congress and the presidency), a significant number of Americans are still moved to respond to appeals that invite them to consider how what they do as citizens will affect our common life as a people. Though invited to think only in terms of good or harm to themselves, their goodwill responds to calls that challenge them to think in terms of the God-endowed right and decent liberty characteristic of our shared identity as one nation.
But the elitist faction’s sham partisan electoral process works to eliminate such calls from our politics, except as window dressing for candidates vetted to make sure they will not take such things seriously once elected. There is no place in the elitist faction sham except for candidates who prove, when it matters, that their highest loyalty is to others like themselves, in whom material ambition predominates. Whether as voters or officials in government, such candidates are unlikely to look beyond some selfish personal or factional advantage (or disadvantage) when they consider how to cast their vote.
This has contributed to making all our elections into contests dominated by appeals to the selfish fears and desires of the electorate, with little or no admixture of credibly public-spirited goodwill, attentive to the common good of all. There was a time when at least some voices were raised challenging us to remember the good we seek to do and to represent for all humanity. This was particularly true in times that seemed pregnant with impending doom. Now fear and loathing are the keynotes – including, sadly, the fear and loathing often held by humanity that the godly premises of America’s founding aimed to hold in check, because they were so often abused as excuses for elitist tyranny.
Given the role elections play in our administration of government, this decline in civic-mindedness inevitably threatens our government’s ability to comprehend and serve our nation’s common good. But in our present circumstances, it does so especially because the elitist faction is successfully pursuing an agenda that aims to restore the practice of elitist tyranny that our nation was conceived to overthrow. Thanks to the prevailing wind of their ambition, our nation is now caught up in current fears and loathsome prospects that seem to leave us with no choice but to fight evil with evil.
But the history of the American people amply demonstrates that Christ was right to reject that tempting strategy, so redolent with despair. It is precisely in the most threatening of times that true Americans resolve to use all their energy, intelligence, spirit, and strength to encourage our nation to call upon God. We trust God to be the “ringbolt” into which we clip the lifeline of our faith, so we may rise as a nation from fear to confidence; from human loathing to the more-than-human love and hope that God shares with His people, the people who in spirit wholly commend themselves, as Jesus did, into His hands.
© Alan Keyes