Glen Cove, New York
Five Republicans have been elected president since World War II. All
of them, at least to some extent, wanted to decrease the size of
the federal bureaucracy. President Reagan had the most success of
the five, but all left office with a larger, more powerful, and more
intrusive civilian bureaucracy than they inherited. Although each
president had some people in the administration who were willing
to reduce the size of the federal government at the expense of their
own power, many others were seeking to cut the federal government
in someone else’s department.
We already have federal control of agricultural production, standardized federal
testing in the schools, the suppression of their traditional religious mission
by most universities, a uniform national minimum drinking age, massive federal
interference in the health insurance industry and in hospital administration,
and standardization of everything from highway and airport signs to drivers’ licenses.
We are facing major steps toward socialized medicine, significant federal ownership
and control of our largest banks, federalization of mortgage lending, hundreds
of thousands of new federal civilian jobs, and a general takeover of our lives
by the federal government. All that remains is to nationalize the fashion police,
and we will have conception to euthanasia totalitarianism.
The road to bringing liberty back to life does not run through the White House.
That route has failed five times already. It is through two institutions: state
governments and churches. Choosing this route will require the courage to turn
down federal money when strings are attached and the will to face down the federal
Such courage is not impossible; it has been displayed before. In 1961, the federal
government created federal student loans. Students who wished to receive these
loans had to take an oath similar to the one required at the time for a passport.
While some students formed a national organization in support of such an oath,
others opposed it. Several universities simply refused to allow their students
to borrow under the program. During the second year of the program, the number
of universities boycotting it grew so large that Congress caved in and canceled
the oath requirement.
Conservative state office holders will have to risk a lot and endure unpopularity
when they turn down federal money. This cannot be done successfully by one, or
even a few, states. It will only work if a significant number of governors, with
the support of their legislatures, target an unpopular federal mandate, refuse
to accept federal money linked to it, and stay the course during their initial
unpopularity. This will require the development of young conservatives who believe
in states’ rights and are not willing to be sent to Washington. This can
work many times, but not enough to really alter the balance of power against
the federal government and in favor of the states.
Our Constitution provided for a militia as a balance against federal power. Today,
almost the entire militia — the National Guard — is financially supported by
the federal government and subject to orders from the president. Even in those
states that have significant elements in their militias that are not federally
recognized, the National Guard is the best-equipped and best-trained part of
the militias. If states really want to stand up to the federal government, they
must enlarge the independent part of their militias and make them the elite core
of the states’ forces. States must recruit at their own expense and develop
their own sophisticated 21st-century weapons. This is going to require complete
solidarity by a number of conservative governors.
Bringing liberty back to life will take more than changing power relations. It
will also require a change in our national character. It will require recognition
that every abortion is an assault on everybody’s right to life. It will
require recognition that it is unjust to minor children if one of their parents
walks away. It will require recognition that the traditional family — not the
government or an imitation family — is the first guardian of liberty. It will
require recognition that chemical and mechanical contraception creates a psychological
distortion that frequently develops into an acceptance of abortion.
Creating character is the function of the family and the church, not the state.
Most heads of family will take their lead from their church. An America that
truly loves liberty will only come if that minority of our churches that are
not hopelessly corrupt put aside unimportant issues and concentrate on the right
to life, the importance of the traditional family, the non-negotiable duty of
every politician to oppose legal abortion and euthanasia, the right of the church
to teach and enforce its teachings in its universities and hospitals, and the
dangers of contraception to liberty.
This is going to require courage and leadership not only from bishops, but from
all clergy, teachers, and others in authority. It is going to require a willingness
to break the addiction to federal money for religious universities and hospitals.
It is going to require a willingness to confront some of the most powerful politicians
in the country when they stray from the will of God. It may not be enough to
excommunicate them privately; it may have to be done publically.
The revival of liberty requires more than winning presidential and congressional
elections. It will require a new generation of leaders both in church and state
government capable of turning down everything Washington has to offer.
The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2009
by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com.
All rights reserved.
Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the
New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in
many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles
about the law.
See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.
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