Conservative talk radio pundits spin a good spiel: liberals are destroying the family values and economic principles upon which the United States was founded. Over 200 years ago, God-fearing men evaluated all of the world's social and financial systems and realized that a capitalistic democracy provides the best environment in which to create and preserve a vibrant country.
Instead of relying on the wisdom of our Founding Fathers and protecting their God-given ultimatum to create the proverbial "city on a hill," liberals have taken all that is decent and right about the American way of life and - both financially and morally - taxed it to death. Now, it's up to decent, God-fearing Americans to re-embrace the Biblical values and God-honoring economic structures that can save our country before it's too late.
Manipulation Through Fear
By George, if this was all I knew about the United States, I'd be just as scared as the millions of people who tune in to the radio and TV programs which shuck this jive. And let's get one thing clear here: these modern media medicine men have become masters at manipulating their audience through fear.
Not that their fear-mongering is entirely false, however. In fact, there's an extent to which I believe the Limbaugh's and Beck's of America perform a valuable service as they hound our elected officials to stay on-task. I'm glad there are armies of watchdogs funded by both right-wing and left-wing activists who spend their lives pouring over the oceans of documents produced daily by our bureaucratic machines. It may not be pretty, but this is a type of accountability which ordinary Americans simply can't perform ourselves. Even though they talk more than they listen, our political pundits can't be written off as over-opinionated blowhards.
But they do need to remember reality. And so do their listeners. Because while pointing out problems is one thing, fixing those problems seems to have become an exercise in futility. Might one of the reasons things don't seem to be getting any better - even with millions of conservative talk radio enthusiasts saying they want change - involve the simple fact that nobody can legislate morality?
An Over-Reliance on Dead Men
One of the favorite themes of our modern media medicine men is that Americans have taken their eyes off of the hallowed principles cherished by our Founding Fathers, and have run roughshod over the morality upon which the United States was based. Conservatives assume they've cornered the market when it comes to integrity, and take pleasure in lambasting liberals who have a greater tendency to endorse public expressions of what have historically been non-virtuous behaviors.
Most evangelical churches no longer tolerate fire-and-brimstone preaching from their pulpits, but conservatives have become fascinated by talk radio's bully-pulpit. Alas, that's the fatal flaw in their approach to fixing what ails America.
Do the Glenn Beck's, Franklin Graham's, Newt Gingrich's, Rush Limbaugh's, and Sarah Palin's of America think that all conservatives have to do is prove that our Founding Fathers would have disapproved of gay marriage, gun control, strict economic regulations, and other right-wing flash points - and the rest of the country would sink back with a big “I had no idea!” look stamped on their furrowed foreheads?
Is the only thing conservatives need to do is prove George Washington would have been outraged at same-sex spouses for the concept to suddenly become abhorrent to the American public?
Should the mere mention of Alexander Hamilton or Benjamin Franklin make government regulators quake in their boots when they even think about making a corporation responsible for how their products impact public safety?
Are people practicing the very things conservatives hate simply waiting for proof that our Founding Fathers wouldn’t like the America we’ve got today? Is that it? Are liberals ready to buy the argument that the faith professed by a bunch of dead white guys is sufficient to overhaul their own lives?
Should we expect history to change moral behavior?
How many gay couples down at the courthouse waiting for a marriage license will be talked out of their plans by proof that Thomas Jefferson fathered more children through his slaves than his wife? Or that the divorce rate among modern-day evangelicals proves we don't value heterosexual marriage any more than anybody else?
How do George Washington’s many references to God prove that socialized medicine is wrong? I'm against "Obamacare" as much as anybody, but since people of faith long ago ceded their hospitals to local governments, how much of a leg do we have to stand on now?
Enough Talk. How About Some Action?
We simply cannot legislate morality. We cannot stuff rules down the throats of people who can plainly see that we don't live by them ourselves. That doesn't mean we throw up our hands and let our country go to you-know-where. But it does mean that we have to be realistic in what we can expect of our fellow countrymen, and most importantly, we have to get our own houses in order: our houses of worship, our own families, and our own selves.
It's time to stop blaming. We need to start fixing what we can. And we need to start at home.