Headlines about “the end of the republic” litter political commentary across the political landscape. They usually mark the beginning of a discussion of the merits of Donald Trump as president of the United States, but his ascendency is not the leading sign of a collapse of American society. For that, see a recent poll indicating a tectonic shift occurring in the political preferences of U.S. adults. When you consider current trends in cultural norms and widely held beliefs, you will see that we are headed toward the end of the American experiment.
The American Culture and Faith Institute recently conducted a survey of adults 18 and older. It shows not only how deeply divided Americans are on some issues but also how their view of the nation stands in many cases in stark contrast to our nation’s founding principles. Most Americans (58 percent) see themselves as politically moderate, while a quarter identify as conservative, and 17 percent as liberal. Those who were both socially and fiscally conservative, the group tracked by the ACFI in greatest detail, were 6 percent of the population.
How did we get here? The popularity of Bernie Sanders, whose 2016 presidential campaign was marked by an altruistic spirit and a consistent value system, is of course not the cause of this movement in public opinion but rather an indicator of it. Many Americans have forgotten the lessons of the Cold War and the disasters witnessed in the crumbling economies and failed polities of Communist and socialist countries in the 1990s. Communism was on its last leg, it appeared, and its little brother socialism was not far behind.
Little did we know that the fires of socialism were being stoked in corners all across America where it is held in higher regard than in nations that have suffered under it. It is obvious where such thinking abounds and continues to spread: in our colleges and universities. The ideologies of professors and educators have proven stronger than facts: The “benefits” of socialism and Communism are taught from the Ivy League to the local community college. A generation has been taught a lie, and they now believe it.
One reason that such a dangerous political construct has advanced is that left-leaning activists have hijacked terms of the debate and muddied the popular understanding of political language. Consider that more than 80 percent of all respondents to the ACFI poll said they supported traditional values, as did nearly 70 percent of those who identify as liberal, even if in fact they tend to be socially progressive.
Barna described those who in the poll were identified to be liberals. They are
a group among whom three-fourths support same-sex marriage; seven out of ten advocate legalized abortion; a majority want socialism to replace capitalism; and nearly one out of five claim to be LGBT. It’s hard to imagine which ‘traditional moral values’ they are referring to. This oddity does, however, reflect how the ideological Left consistently appropriates language and imputes new meaning to terms that are known and popular. The survey data raise the possibility that liberals may redefine “traditional moral values” to include beliefs and behaviors that are not at all traditional — or moral, from a biblical perspective.
It all depends on what the definition of “values” is.
“Freedom isn’t free” is inscribed on the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., reminding all who visit of the blood and treasure that has been paid to end tyrannical rule abroad. That America itself may become a socialist country must be abhorrent and foreign to the many who have fought, and to those who still fight, for free markets, traditional values, and capitalist ideals. Conservative and traditionally minded Americans can no longer assume that their neighbor believes what they believe or that he defines the terms of political discourse the same way. The country has changed.
Sadly, Barna is only partially wrong that this divide is the stuff of civil wars. In this case, the civil war is fought not directly and openly, with bullets and bombs, but with an intellectual assault on history and facts — a quiet revolution.
It is time to play both the short and the long game. Now is the time to speak out and educate all who will hear about the history of this nation and the benefits of traditional values, free markets, and capitalism, which, though not perfect, are better than all the alternatives. Those who love this nation and the ideals of our experiment in liberty must counter the gainsayers in academia and the media or they will soon find that America as “one nation under God” is no more.
— David Nammo, an attorney, is the executive director and CEO of the Christian Legal Society.