SODOM & GOMORRAH: Rick Santorum has gained popularity for allegedly being a “social conservative.” Santorum claims that the American Constitution should be read “in the context of” the Declaration of Independence. Is this a legitimately right wing stance, or is it another instance of Republican schizophrenia?
The Economist recently covered this issue and argued that the Declaration’s comment on the source of rights (God) is a separate issue from the status of those rights (unalienable) and that these two statements stand in slight contradiction to the Constitution which grants a separate set of rights. To summarize, according to the Founders some rights come from God and others from the Constitution.
I see two deeper issues at stake with Santorum’s argument.
First, Rick Santorum is calling for the reinstatement of a revolutionary document. Most American ideologies claim some representation from the Founders, but none call for the reinstatement of the Articles of Confederation. It’s widely accepted that the Articles were voided out by the Constitution because the Articles were too anarchic for practical, long-term use. It’s odd then that the Declaration of Independence, which calls for the overthrow of governmental control, would not equally be shelved. Once the Revolution was over, there was no need to topple the state since the revolutionaries were the state. Unless Santorum and others want to argue for a perpetual revolution, which is a rather Marxist concept, they ought to acknowledge that the intent behind the Declaration cannot be in effect today.
Second, and perhaps I suggest this with some irony, Santorum’s belief is not Biblically based. I would argue that our rights come from God and that all such rights, duties, and obligations are spelled out quite clearly in Holy Scripture. I would further contend, perhaps to the disagreement of some readers, that Holy Scripture is the final and absolute authority on these rights, duties, and obligations. What people say about these issues is of secondary importance, and in fact may not matter that much. If it isn’t in the Bible, it isn’t Biblical; Christ lives, while Jefferson is dead.
Inflamatory words, no doubt, but that’s not to say that we reject the Founders; it merely means that we reject any argument that isn’t found in Scripture – whether it be from the Founders or anyone else.
I have argued that American politics is fundamentally schizophrenic; in other words, it is filled with various contradictions that masquerade as consistent positions. I have also argued that the left has been largely successful in destabalizing and destroying all sense of tradition. While it may once have been prudent to tolerate certain contradictions for the sake of societal stability (i.e. Plato’s noble lie), tradition is dead and that stability is gone. The disadvantages to this state of affairs are numerous; crime, violence, degenerate behavior, disease, and an almost universal malady that pollutes and corrupts the soul. The one advantage, and the only hope that we have, is that we can at last do away with the mistakes and contradictions of the past and construct a post-liberal order.
Until Rick Santorum and other politicians have the courage to wade into the chaos, they will always remain servants to the current modern system.