The character of independence – John Hayward (Human Events)

By John Hayward, / July 4th 2013 8:30 AM

What has been missing from all the revolutions that didn’t work out as well as ours?  What have we lost, to bring the American revolution to such a perilous hour, in which the restraints upon government decay into first theory, and then fiction?

It all boils down to a question of character.



It was easy for American observers to sympathize with the “Arab Spring” revolutionaries in Egypt.  They risked hardship, injury, and death to pack Tahrir Square in a massive demonstration against a corrupt government, presided over by strongman Hosni Mubarak for decades.  They spoke of freedom and democracy.  The cold geopolitical reality was that Mubarak was a reliable U.S. ally, and what replaced him was not.  But all those who risk everything in the name of democracy are singing the first few bars of the American song, and we can’t help but tap our feet to the fife and drum, and wish them well.

An even larger demonstration just overthrew the Arab Spring Egyptian government.  Those hard-won post-Mubarak elections installed a regime of Islamist blockheads whose primary “qualification” for government was the ability to recite Koranic verses from memory.  Their efforts to consolidate power left other Egyptians wondering if they had leaped from the kleptocrat frying pan into the theocrat fire.

The Egyptian people will try again.  They’re none to happy with the United States after our support for the deposed Morsi regime.  Some observers offer hope that it’s more of a personal distaste for Barack Obama and his Administration.  The anti-Obama banners carried through the streets of Cairo support that impression.  Maybe the jubilant Egyptians will still be willing to consider the American revolutionary example and learn something from it.

That would be wise of the Egyptians, because America still offers the paramount example of revolutionary success against tyranny.  In fact, it’s distressingly difficult to point to another example that turned out nearly as well, in either the short or long term.  We Americans have a romantic conviction that all the people of the world yearn to breathe free, with liberty and representative government ready to blossom in every corner of the world, once the hard frost of tyranny is cleared away from the soil of individual dignity.  It’s long past time for us to consider the melancholy reverse of this schoolboy optimism: liberty and representative government are remarkably difficult to nourish, and centuries of effort have produced many failures, measured against few great and enduring successes.

One reason for this uncertain track record is that liberty and representative government are two very different things.  Americans tend to assume the former flows from the latter – plant a seed of democracy, and the tree of liberty takes root.  That’s not true, and the authors of the America’s founding documents knew it wasn’t true.  They wrote with great wisdom and foresight about the necessity of restraining even the most frequently ratified, freely elected government.  Democracy (if we may take that term to include the process of electing representation in a republic) without a vigorous defense of liberty brings mob rule, or installs a set of well-organized and charismatic tyrants whose first order of business is ensuring they will never be voted out of office.  It transforms citizens into warring parties of bitter enemies whose votes determine, not the course of government, but the course of their daily lives.

What has been missing from all the revolutions that didn’t work out as well as ours?  What have we lost, to bring the American revolution to such a perilous hour, in which the restraints upon government decay into first theory, and then fiction?

It all boils down to a question of character.  Modern Americans may not fully appreciate how extraordinarily blessed with leaders of remarkable character our early government was.  James Madison, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson… they, and their colleagues, were among the most brilliant and expressive men of their day.  Read any portion of the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution if you seek proof.  The trove of wisdom held by our Founders was piled high with riches.

Presiding over the government they created was George Washington, among the most admired men in the world at the time, and perhaps in all of time.  For too many Americans, our first President has been reduced to a cartoon abstraction of integrity, the lad who could not lie about chopping down a cherry tree.  (Do today’s schoolchildren even learn that, or do I date myself by mentioning it?)  This does not capture the astounding dimensions of Washington’s esteem.

Reporting on a 2012 poll conducted by the British National Army Museum that named George Washington the greatest military enemy of Britain, and the American Revolution her worst defeat, U.S. News said it was “no surprise that the architect of that defeat is still one of Britain’s most despised historical figures.”  Perhaps so, but he wasn’t personally “despised” by his enemies at the time.  There was quite a difference between the glowing accounts of Washington in the British press during the war, and the contemptuous coverage of the rebel nation he fought for.  If the British had managed to kill him, they would have wept honest tears at his funeral.  (Let it be duly noted that not even George Washington’s esteem was universal or perpetual.  The American press took to calling him a “tyrant” for a while, after the Whiskey Rebellion.)

Can a revolution be consolidated into lasting peace, prosperity, and justice without such a leader?  When we think of great historical forces coming together to shape the destiny of a nation, we don’t always account for the importance of a few extraordinary men and women to lead their nation through the aftermath.  Great hours are often squandered by petty men.  Such hours call for more than intelligence and managerial skill.  Towering personal character and morality are required as well.  It’s no longer a fashionable notion, but in times past it was believed that clear, valuable thought was impossible without great character, because the serenity brought by a strong moral sense was essential to careful and honest deliberation.

Who can doubt that the turbulent sea of power released in the aftermath of a revolution, when jubilant people look with love and gratitude upon their liberators, is easily abused?  It’s a time of great temptation for those who find themselves in control of vast resources, with their self-regard inflated by the energetic regard of countless others, their appetite for vengeance against deposed loyalists keen, and their differences with revolutionary rivals sharpened by the defeat of the hated common enemy.  Personal character is the only reliable armor against such temptation, in the days before firm laws to restrain the power of the newborn State have been ratified.

The character of the people is crucial as well.  All of us, everywhere, get the government we deserve.  If we authorize abuse against our fellow citizens, it occurs, and then inevitably grows.  If we demand little character from our leaders, little is supplied.  If we grant our government the power to do whatever “most people” want, it quickly grows until it has little difficulty rounding up enough people to claim majority support for whatever the ruling class wants to do.  If dissent is not cherished, freedom withers.  You will find no intersection between the “tyranny of the majority” and the “consent of the governed,” for the authors of the Declaration of Independence didn’t say a just government should settle for the consent of some of the governed, or even most of them.

We hold the truths enshrined by the American Revolution to be self-evident, not just for us, but for all of mankind.  However, our Founders never said those truths would be easy to embrace.  On the contrary, they wrote often of the urgent need for people of character, both in the halls of government and the great open fields of citizenship.  Those modern readers who are dismayed by the religious language they used are foolishly discounting priceless wisdom, and failing to appreciate the value of humility as a republican virtue.  The truly great leaders of a free people are humble men and women.  Those are really hard to come by.  Intelligence, passion, and charisma are in greater supply, and they are far more easily demonstrated.  Revolutions are more common than Washingtons.

This Independence Day, let us wish the Egyptians well in their search for humble and capable leadership.  Let us join them.

The Cost of True Freedom

Count the Cost of True Freedom – The Cost by Rend Collective Experiment

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” – Galatians 5.1 MSG

Is America in a Pre-Revolutionary State this July 4th? – Roger Simon reblog

Originally posted by Roger L Simon On July 2, 2013 /

american_flag_crystal_ball_big_7-13-1As we approach July 4, 2013, is America in a pre-revolutionary state? Are we headed for a Tahrir Square of our own with the attendant mammoth social turmoil, possibly even violence.

Could it happen here?

We are two-thirds of the way into the most incompetent presidency in our history. People everywhere are fed up. Even many of the so-called liberals who propelled Barack Obama into office have stopped defending him in the face of an unprecedented number of scandals coming at us one after the other like hideous monsters in some non-stop computer game.

And now looming is the monster of monsters, ObamaCare, the healthcare reform almost no one wanted and fewer understood.

It will be administered by the Internal Revenue Service, an organization that has been revealed to be a kind of post-modern American Gestapo, asking not just to examine our accounting books but the books we read. What could be more totalitarian than that?

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal warns the costs of ObamaCare are close to tripling what were promised, and the number of doctors in our country is rapidly diminishing. No more “My son, the doctor!” It doesn’t pay.

And young people most of all will not be able to afford escalating health insurance costs and will end up paying the fine to the IRS, simultaneously bankrupting the health system and enhancing the brutal power of the IRS — all this while unemployment numbers remain near historical highs.

No one knows how many have given up looking for work while crony capitalist friends of the administration enrich themselves on mythological clean-energy projects.

In fact, everywhere we look on this July Fourth sees a great civilization in decline. And much of that decline can be laid at the foot of the incumbent. Especially his own people, African Americans, have suffered.  Their unemployment numbers are catastrophic, their real needs ignored while hustlers like Sharpton, Jackson, and, sadly, even the president fan the flames of non-existent racism.

Tahrir Square anyone?

Ironically, if our society enters a revolutionary phase, liberals will find themselves in the role of the Islamists, defending a shopworn and reactionary ideology on religious grounds, because it is only their faith that holds their ideas together at this point.

The facts of the American decline tell us otherwise. We don’t need the contempt of Vladimir Putin to remind us how bad things are and that the seeming result of the end of the Cold War is that American presidents are now mocked by the second coming of the KGB (not that it was ever gone).

We all know the famous Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times!

We certainly are, and I am of two minds about it. Like so many Americans, I have lived a comfortable, privileged life, vastly so compared to most of human history.

But I am filled with foreboding about what’s to come, indeed about what is already here. When I look at the masses swarming in Tahrir Square, I am at once repelled and attracted, repelled because, to be honest, I find their culture more than a bit crazy, but attracted because I know something is seriously wrong, not just in Egypt but in the USA.

Article re-blogged from Roger L. Simon at .

Morning Reading: Acts 11.19-24 NLT – power preaching

Reading: Acts 11:19-24 NLT

Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews.

However, some of the believyers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.


When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.

Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.

Prayer: Lord Jesus – Send your Barnabas-like emissaries throughout the world… people with good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit, and strong in faith… encouragers of your people, and supporters of your Church. And make me one of them… to your benefit and glory. Amen.

Spiritual Song : “Once to every man and nation”James Russell Lowell, 1845
Once to every man and nation / Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, Offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by for ever / ‘Twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, When we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, And ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses, While the coward stands aside;
Till the multitude make virtue / Of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs / Jesus’ bleeding feet I track,
Toiling up new Calvaries ever / With the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward still and onward / Who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil prosper, Yet ’tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, And upon the throne be wrong,
Yet that scaffold sways the future, And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow / Keeping watch above his own.