“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion,” wrote John Adams. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
It’s not hard to appreciate the wisdom of Adams in practical terms. A profoundly immoral people would be an unruly mob. Huge amounts of compulsive, often violent, force would be needed to maintain the most basic order.
The American Constitution is among the highest achievements of human enlightenment. It is not a cage designed to hold a nation of brutal savages. If we would live as free people, governed with the minimum possible degree of compulsion, we must strive to deal with each other in a moral way, because we have to trust each other.
How can a moral people suffer the presence of deeply immoral leaders?
Discussion of these matters is often dismissed as the stuffy chattering of moralistic busybodies, but it’s actually a question of cold logic. We live beneath a gigantic government, so huge that it consumes or controls more than half of what America produces. Much of this government is justified in explicitly moral terms. We are always being lectured that everything from government-run health care, to vast subsidies for “alternative energy,” is the “right” or moral thing to do.
All opposition to these programs is denounced as immoral, with an intensity that obscures any rational points the opposition is trying to make. Indeed, criticism of morally correct socialist programs is denounced as evidence of a mean spirit and cold heart.
Every single criticism of ObamaCare advanced on logical grounds has been proved abundantly correct by subsequent events, but at the time, everyone who made such criticisms was told they were greedy, heartless villains who just want poor people to get sick and die.
Resistance to tax increases is always portrayed as greed, by people who are not even slightly interested in hearing the sound economic arguments against them. The entire concept of progressive taxation is justified by asserting that the government, acting as an agent of the downtrodden, has a greater moral claim on the property of the wealthy than they do.
Reform of the dying Medicare system is portrayed by Democrats as a moral outrage. When they run campaign ads that show Rep. Paul Ryan literally throwing old people off a cliff, they are insisting there is no reason to listen to what he says, or consider his arguments logically. His goals are such a betrayal of the sacred bond between the super-State and its dependents that even the ugliest tactics for shouting him down are justified.
Liberals believe their moral imperatives absolutely trump the reservations of people compelled to participate in their agenda. The repugnance felt by a growing number of Americans over public funding for abortion was, in the liberal mind, completely and utterly overruled by the moral imperative to fill the coffers of Planned Parenthood with federal money. According to the official position of the Democrat Party, as expressed by such prominent figures as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the only reason Republicans opposed this funding is because they want women to die. This is, obviously, an entirely moral argument, devoid of reason.
That’s one of the reasons it matters when someone like Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York is revealed to be utterly reprehensible – a compulsive liar who betrayed the trust of his wife, beginning not more than a month after they were married, and tried to ruin those who exposed him.
The Congress of the United States is not an assembly of technicians, dispassionately administering the affairs of a modest government. Those who appreciate the wisdom of the Founding Fathers devoutly wish they were, but such a government would not be $14 trillion in debt, with another $61.6 trillion of unfunded liabilities on top of that.
No, the super-State is an explicitly moral enterprise, which refers to its superior wisdom even more often than it boasts of having superior intelligence. It relies on moral arguments because they are the steel of socialism: white-hot when forged, and durable no matter how obvious the practical failures of Big Government become. Only the blade of urgent moral obligation could have been sharp enough to cut through all those Constitutional restraints over the past century.
Anyone who wants to dull that blade is welcome to join the Tea Party movement. Meanwhile, how can even the most dedicated liberal justify handing such a sharp implement to someone of Anthony Weiner’s dull character? Even by the Left’s standards of collective ethics and submission to the State, it makes no sense to expect proper moral engineering from deeply immoral people. His sins of betrayal, deception, and negligence are the exact opposite of everything liberals expect us to believe about the demigods they would empower to manage our lives.