I have been hard on Glenn Beck on this and especially on my other blog, The OYL. However, I do not mean to give the impression that I have anything against him, personally. It’s just that I do not like the general direction he has been heading, and I am strongly opposed to the message he has been teaching to his audience. A perfect example of where Beck and I differ can be found in his current position regarding the Constitution and the Libertarian ideal. In the first hour of his 6 March 2015 radio show, Beck said that the Constitution and the Libertarian ideal are the two keys to ‘saving’ America. In fact, he went so far as to say the Constitution was ‘divinely revealed.’ I couldn’t disagree with Beck any more than I do, but more than that, many of the founders disagreed with Beck’s current position on these matters. If you are unsure about your own position on this issue, let me ask you to read and consider the rest of this post before you make a decision as to what you should believe.
First, the only ‘divinely revealed’ law ever given to man is The Law of Moses. Benjamin Franklin is just one of many founders who assented to this fact. So let us put this part of Beck’s position behind us before we turn the Constitution into an idol.
This brings us to the Constitution, itself. For far too many, it has become an idol. Too many of us revere it to the point of worship, and this is the source of much confusion. The Constitution is just a tool. It is neither the source of our rights, nor the only means by which we can protect our rights. It is just one of many possible applications of the principles of Natural Law. The principles and ideals which guided the founders in writing the Constitution are where we should be focusing our attention. Unless we understand and fully embrace these principles and ideals, then we can neither understand, adhere to or repair the Constitution. Once again, the Constitution is just the ‘how‘ of America. The Declaration is where we find the ‘what‘ and the ‘why‘ of America.
Now that we have identified the Declaration as our founders statement of what they believed, let us consider how those principles and ideals relate to the Libertarian ideal. At first, it may appear as though Libertarians and the Constitution are a natural fit, but this is because too few of us understand the Libertarian ideal. While it is a bit of a simplification, the best general way to explain is found in the philosophy of Ayn Rand. But the philosophy of Ayn Rand contains a fatal flaw — the same fatal flaw found in the Libertarian ideal. Neither Ayn Rand nor the Libertarian is capable properly adhering to the Constitution because their core beliefs reject the principles and ideals in the Declaration. The key component missing from both Rand and Libertarianism is a dependence on a Creator who is actively involved in the affairs of man, and Who will judge every individual for their actions in this life.
That our founders believed this is not open to question. They all said so — even Paine, Jefferson and Franklin (though Paine latter changed his opinion on this point — and was attacked by Franklin for doing so). Though he is just one of many, John Adams made this point very clear:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Adams forcefully asserts that it is not the Constitution — or even the law that keeps people from trampling on each other, it is their moral sentiment. Adams and the founders also said that morality only comes from religion (i.e. a belief in God). So, according to our founders, if the American people ever turn away from their belief in God, then the Constitution will be destroyed — and liberty lost. Rand was an atheist, and — while allowing for people to believe in God — Libertarians reject the belief that liberty requires a general religious foundation among the people. This is why Beck argues that government has no place in matters such as marriage. The founders would never have allowed the current argument over gay marriage, but the Libertarian believes that there is no place for government in such matters.
The controversy over gay marriage is actually an example of lawlessness. First, it is a violation of Natural Law. But it is also a violation of Constitutional law. We see it in the way the courts are overturning State amendments that were properly and legally passed by the People and their representatives. This is the negation of republicanism (and the principle of ‘democracy’). But the U.S. Constitution guarantees the States a republican form of government while granting no authority to the federal government to meddle in matter such as marriage. Every time a federal court rules on this issue, they act lawlessly. Yet, the Libertarian ideal sides with the courts. This places them in contradiction with both the Constitution and the Declaration, and it is because the Libertarian ideal rejects the key element of liberty — God!
The founders understood that, when men turn away from God, anarchy follows. People will no longer feel restrained in their behavior and will push to change the laws and government to allow them to do as they please. The founders often used the word ‘licentious‘ to describe this behavior. The careful observer will notice that this is a large part of the problem with our society: a growing sense of licentiousness. Once again, this comes from the fact that we have divorced the Constitution from the Declaration. If we had not done so, and we still understood that the Declaration is founded in Biblical principles, we would know that ‘the pursuit of happiness’ is not a ‘right’ to do whatever makes you feel good. It is the right to be allowed to pursue the virtuous life. But virtue often means you must deny yourself those things you ‘want’ to do those things you ‘should’ do. But how do we know this is what our founders believed? Once again, this is not the only founder to say so, just one of the clearest in stating the founders’ opinion:
“Liberty and happiness have a powerful enemy on each hand; on the one hand tyranny, on the other licentiousness [anarchy]. To guard against the latter, it is necessary to give the proper powers to government; and to guard against the former, it is necessary that those powers should be properly distributed.”
So, what happens when people turn away from God and push the government to make their carnal desires legal? Once again, the founders explain the process, a process they studied in the process of constructing our government — to prevent this process as best they could:
“Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of Liberty abused to licentiousness.”
In other words, once the people turn from God, they become morally corrupt; and once they become morally corrupt, tyranny takes over. Now, look at America and tell me this is not happening before our very eyes. Then look at the founders and tell me they were wrong in their warnings. Finally, consider the fact that this same cycle has repeated in nearly every society where liberty was lost and tell me there is not a causal connection. It even happened to Israel: they turned from God and as a result, they fell into immorality and God destroyed them. So how can the Libertarian ideal ‘save’ America when it rejects the key element of liberty — God?!