Thursday, November 29, 2007

Can The Republic Survive?

Bruce Fein offers these observations in a recent Washington Times article:

"In “Federalist 55,” James Madison observed that, “Republican government presupposes the existence of [qualities in human nature that justify esteem and confidence] in a higher degree than any other form.” Those qualities include wisdom, honesty and courage; a subordination of egomania to the common good; moderation; self-doubt and self-discipline; and, charity toward the shortcomings of others. A culture that pays homage to these qualities, as in the time of the American Revolution, gives birth to towering leaders like Cincinnatus, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

As president of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 amid petty bickering and maneuvering for political advantage, Washington admonished the delegates: “If to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest may repair.”

The delegates did not jeer. They did not retort, “We don't have the votes.” Instead, they labored to subordinate their parochial interests to the common good and achieved a miracle. A century later, the United States Constitution was acclaimed by Lord Gladstone as, “The most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”

American culture has degenerated since the Founding Fathers into a celebration of vice, ignorance, drivel and self-promotion. Money, beauty, sexual indulgence, athletics and fame are saluted as the summum bonum of existence. Exemplary are the wild enthusiasm for “American Idol,” obsession with the tawdry comings and goings of Britney Spears or Paris Hilton and the apotheosis of professional athletes who contribute nothing to preserving government of the people, by the people, for the people. It is inconceivable that a Washington, Madison or Jefferson or Lincoln could emerge from the contemporary culture."

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