”I do not expect the Constitution to last for more than 20 years.”
– George Washington to Abraham Baldwin, Georgia delegate to the Constitutional Convention, 1787
Suffice it to say our republic has endured — indeed, has positively thrived — beyond anything that the Constitution’s Framers could have possibly imagined. For that, contemporary Americans have legions of preeminent predecessors, spanning across the arts, sciences, humanities, and politics, to thank. And thank them we ought to do, for they have bequeathed to us the greatest nation-state — the greatest force for good — in the history of human civilization.
Yet in the year 2019, it is sometimes truly difficult to remain optimistic about the future of the republic. We are over a century into the Woodrow Wilson-initiated post-constitutional experiment in administrative state-centric progressivism. We are over a half-century into the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965’s inducement of hitherto unforeseen influxes, with its all-too-predictable assimilation crises. Out-of-wedlock birth rates are simply staggering; the two-parent nuclear family is institutionally wounded, and an entire generation of young men has been raised without masculine role models in the home. The politicization of much that should not be politicized has led to the self-selection of ever-more rudderless, aimless individuals into warring partisan tribes. Amidst the greater ubiquity of broken families and decreasing religious attendance, the atomization of society has led to mass despondency and further exacerbated the worst drug overdose epidemic in the nation’s history.
It is against this backdrop that the weekend’s back-to-back tragic mass shooting atrocities tore our already-beleaguered social fabric only further asunder. While nation-wide violent crime and homicide numbers have been dramatically reduced since the 1990s (notably, as firearm ownership has greatly increased over the same period), it is also clear that the harrowing lone-wolf mass shooting phenomenon has become more common. Our markedly polarized polity — divided like never before between the monolithically anti-Trump bi-coastal clerisy and the deigned rubes and yokels of the American heartland — feels like it is at a breaking point. The state of the American social fabric is affirmatively unhealthy.
Conservatives, as is our wont, will naturally blame the Left for much of the constitutional, cultural, societal, and anthropological maladies that afflict us. I am, of course, deeply sympathetic to that. I even concluded my very first published political writing with the following: “When Benjamin Franklin spoke of ‘a republic — if you can keep it,’ it was with folks precisely like contemporary leftists in mind.” I stand by that.
But here is a modest proposal: Can we not continue to stand as firmly as ever against the Left while also conscientiously helping to lower the volume of the dangerously overheated rhetoric pervading our national discourse?
True enough, the “Democrat-Media Complex” is unlikely to join us in this noble pursuit. The Left is willfully oblivious to the fact that, under standard definitions of “white supremacy” and “white nationalism,” we have zero evidence that the president of the United States subscribes to either vile ideology. No matter. Politics does not occupy the same all-consuming place in our lives as it does for the Left, and we must be less cynical and simply better than they are. While they may be prone to nihilistic claptrap, obfuscation, and outright lying in the pursuit of glory, we must resist those temptations.
Let us all take some deep breaths and realize that if the national motto — “e pluribus unum” — is to ever mean anything, then leftists are still our fellow Americans. They are profoundly and egregiously wrong on all the great and meaningful issues of our time. Their lawlessness, family degradation, cultural coarsening, open borders, anarchy, and jailbreak agendas all threaten the political health of the republic and the “melting pot” unity of a citizenry that is in desperate need of greater national solidarity. But, at the end of the day, they are still our fellow Americans.
So let’s make our conservative arguments boldly and defiantly. Let’s bow to no one in our adamance. Let’s yield to no one in our core convictions about the fundamental dignity of mankind and the pursuit of the good life. But let’s also be careful with our language. Perhaps think next time before shouting “baby killer!” at an abortion advocate — no matter how biologically accurate that term indeed is. Perhaps think next time before saying “invader” to refer to a generic illegal alien — no matter how transnational criminal cartel/gang-driven the current illegal immigration crisis indeed is.
Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro put it exceedingly well two years ago, in the aftermath of the shooting of congressional Republicans on a Virginia softball field by an avowed leftist:
There are two ways to deal with this problem. First, we must establish a bright line rule: No defending or advocating violence. Period.
Second, we can all take a deep breath before hitting “send.” It is not our fault if fringe characters take advantage of our language to do violence we’ve never suggested and don’t support – but let’s all do our best (yes, I’m including myself, since I’ve certainly sinned here) to use language we can defend morally. That doesn’t mean tamping down our passion with regard to politics. It does mean thinking twice before hitting send on a tweet or a Facebook post comparing Republicans to ISIS thanks to their healthcare policy, or suggesting that Democrats are eager to watch Americans die in terrorist incidents because they oppose President Trump’s travel ban. Perhaps the language of “civil war” is perfectly appropriate, and we’re willing to stand by it. So be it. But let’s think it through. That seems like a decent thing to do if we wish to preserve some semblance of a social fabric.
As usual, Ben got it exactly right. And while George Washington may have been wildly off the mark in his prediction about how long the Constitution would last, it is possible that the republic’s future, in the year 2019, depends upon lowering our overheated collective discourse and learning to treat our fellow Americans once again as the human beings they all are.