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The 2016 National Election: A Nation of Ideas


In his book, What I Saw in America, G.K. Chesterton insightfully observed that what made America exceptional and unique among the nations was her glorious ideals. “America’, he observed, ‘is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.” We are not a nation of imperfect political candidates as much as we are a nation of ideas. And these ideas have consequences that bring blessing or destruction.

Thomas Carlyle, the eminent Scottish essayist, was once scolded at a dinner party for endlessly chattering about books. “Ideas, Mr. Carlyle, ideas, nothing but ideas!” To which he replied, “There once was a man called Rousseau who wrote a book containing nothing but ideas. The second edition was bound in the skins of those who laughed at the first.” Carlyle is making reference to the writings of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose political ideas inspired the guillotines of the French Revolution. You see, ignoring political ideas can be deadly.

As I look at the two very flawed candidates who remain, I find it helpful to move beyond the candidates themselves to the political ideals they promote and the public policy initiatives which logically follow.

Let me offer the following as food for thought:

1. Platform vs. Personalities
Each party has a platform document which articulates their political philosophy and the policy priorities they work to implement. The Democratic and Republican platforms are like night and day. What emerges is two clearly different visions for America.

2. Life vs. Death
One party promotes abortion on demand for the entire nine months of the pregnancy. The other party wants to reverse the infamous Roe v. Wade decision.

3. Liberty vs. Tyranny

One party passionately promotes the LGBTQ agenda seeking to create a protected special rights status for homosexual and lesbian conduct. The other party will protect religious liberty and the first amendment rights of people of faith to express their beliefs in the marketplace.

When you compare other important issues such as marriage, federal judges, national defense, human rights, immigration, poverty, Israel, the rule of law, and the national debt – just to name a few – you quickly see the importance of IDEAS.

The French sociologist, Auguste Comte famously observed, “Ideas govern the world, or throw it into chaos.” We need to make sure we consider the ideas behind the flawed personalities. Principles are timeless and true, unlike the politicians who espouse them.

  1. noel rodriguez
    November 4th, 2016 at 23:12 | #1

    Please make all effort to vote…
    It does count…

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