Eighteen years ago, this newspaper published an editorial headlined “What we believe,” in which we summarized the bedrock principles that guide and inform our daily comments on the significant times we live in.
With so many visitors in town for the Masters who may find other media outlets with different values, or seemingly with none at all – and with the country walking more and more on craggy cliffs financially and morally – we’d like to take this opportunity to restate and update our core convictions.
• First and foremost, this is a Christian-owned newspaper that makes no bones about an unshakable belief in God and His restorative grace and ultimate forgiveness through the death and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ. On no other day of the year is that infinite love more in evidence than on Easter.
• We believe that the U.S. Constitution is still the law of the land, as irrelevant and contorted as it has become these days.
Today, in pure violation of the Constitution, the federal government has asserted its heavy-handed influence in our schools, our businesses, our 50 states and even our personal lives in ways our Founders never would have imagined or sanctioned. That the federal mandate ordering us to buy insurance at the bayonet of a fine may be struck down by only one vote in the Supreme Court is evidence enough, but there are many other examples.
The 10th Amendment alone – “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” – has been reduced to confetti.
There is no overstating the dangers of a nation oblivious to, or dismissive of, its own charter. If, in a country built upon the rule of law, the supreme law of the land becomes but a quaint parchment under glass, then our republic is truly lost, as Benjamin Franklin feared it might be. Such a nation invites and empowers leaders who have permission to make up the rules as they go along. This is the path of arbitrariness and caprice, the oppression of which our forebears risked all to escape.
Highly educated historians, our Founders knew well the traits of tyrants and their long history of dominion.
In a 2009 editorial, we likened neglect of the Constitution to pouring a foundation for a beach house and then simply ignoring it and building over the shifting sand. How long can such a structure stand?
• We believe that freedom is the most important commodity in human relations, and that the relationship between freedom and government is a zero-sum game: The more government, the less freedom.
This principle has particular resonance today, perhaps more than ever. The growth of government employment, cost and reach in recent years has become legendary, and tantamount to the proverbial slow-boil of the frog. No government-centric society has ever flourished the way our Constitution-based republic used to. And it never will.
• We believe in the uplifting power of responsibility and self-reliance.
In so many ways, our country today discourages or replaces the need for responsibility and self-reliance. Parents are no longer even expected to feed their own children. A culture of victimization and helplessness, a government that seeks to be all things to all people, and a legal-industry message that there’s always somebody else to blame for one’s problems, have led to an absolutely heartbreaking erosion of this country’s can-do spirit.
It is not “compassion” to entice dependence and bitterness. It’s the opposite of compassion. It’s injecting a paralyzing solution into the body politic.
There are still flickers of American-style self-reliance and responsibility out there –
especially among small-businesses and entrepreneurs – and they must be nurtured if the flame of American exceptionalism and success is to endure.
• To accomplish the latter, we believe a return to a more laissez-faire approach, featuring smaller and less-intrusive government, is utterly essential. The free market is the only system that has ever lifted up peoples for long, and has brought more goods, services and prosperity to more people than any system in history.
• We believe firmly in open government and secured borders. A free people cannot remain so if their government, at any level, is hiding public information. With very few exceptions, the public’s business must remain public.
• We believe the First Amendment is the most important document from the mind of man, and the right to free speech and worship the most basic of human rights. We cherish the press’ role in keeping people free and their government honest, and are proud to be a part of that noble task.
• We believe the most imminent threat to our republic is not terrorism or poverty or any number of emerging threats. Rather, we believe the most impending and menacing danger to America is our own federal government and its unprecedented, unchecked spending.
Careerism in Congress has led self-serving leaders to use our money – and our children’s and grandchildren’s future earnings – to buy favor and entrench themselves in seats of imperious and unending power. This has led them to enslave us with $16 trillion in debt and several times that in future encumbrances for entitlement programs. The burden on our progeny will be staggering, if not crippling.
We therefore believe constitutional amendments are desperately needed to restrict both spending and congressional terms of office.
But we also believe a simple return to constitutional principles could do the job – if we only had the will.
We are at once amazed, alarmed, saddened and uneasy that such principles appear so out of place and uncommon today, and are met with cries of “extremist!”
But in truth, these are America’s founding values. And we will never give them up – or give up advocating them.