Another week, another school shooting. This time the carnage was at Santa Fe High School in Texas. Next month, it might be in your local school. Whatever your opinion on guns is, we must all understand that the increase in school shootings is not normal for a modern democracy such as ours.
For nearly 20 years, school shootings have reached epidemic levels across the country. Each time one of these atrocities occurs, the Left calls for a repeal of our Second Amendment rights. Yet, as Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick recently acknowledged, the reason these atrocities are occurring is because our society is sick. The root causes of our problems are entirely cultural. Whether it be the modern American culture of materialism and decadence, or our endless exaltation of hedonism and selfishness, America’s popular culture is degenerate — and it is making all Americans sick.
Liberty Runs on Individual Responsibility
The Second Amendment emerged out of the crucible of the American Revolution. In that conflict, the United States was not only birthed as an independent nation-state, but the idea of what would distinguish America from other nation-states was forged as well. The United States trumpeted its calls to respect the rights of the people to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” by creating a constitution aimed at securing those rights and establishing a free government.
Fundamentally, though, the Founding Fathers viewed liberty in a different light than most Americans do today. What the Founders desired was something akin to “ordered liberty.” Theirs was not an understanding that conflates liberty with libertinism. Instead, they carefully detailed the connection between individual rights and individual responsibility.
This sense of personal responsibility ultimately united all American citizens in a common culture that allowed for the responsible use of our rights.
Writing in his epic work, Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville described the true strengths of the United States as he, a Frenchman, saw them. He identified how local communities formed the backbone of our democratic society. Those local communities were built upon a foundation of the family unit (with American women — mothers — being the most important component of the family and, therefore, of the larger community). Whatever good the central government in Washington, D.C. did was based entirely on the strength of local communities. The church and other, private, civic organizations acted as transmission belts for those local communities that flowed upward into the nation’s capital.
It’s no surprise, then, that James K. Polk, America’s 11th president (and a former Democratic Speaker of the House), once stated at the start of a congressional legislation cycle that, “Under the benignant providence of Almighty God, the representatives of the States and of the people are again brought together to deliberate for the public good.” Most elected officials in the United States truly believed statements like Polk’s at that time.
Unfortunately, though, since the Progressive era, this common civic culture of personal responsibility has been slowly eroded to the point that today it has all but disappeared. That sense of personal responsibility, once shared by most Americans, has been replaced by the forces of hedonism and decadence (which were foisted upon us or suggested by the retrogressive Left). Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise us at all that the Left chooses to attack a fundamental right, such as the Second Amendment, as a dire threat to public safety.
From their viewpoint, it is a public safety hazard. After all, like much of the Constitution, the Second Amendment relied on a responsible citizenry to safely use such a powerful device as a gun. In the right hands, a gun can defend a citizen’s family and property. In the wrong hands, however, it can massacre a school full of children. After decades of the Left’s assault on traditional American values, is there any private American citizen out there who is truly responsible enough to handle a firearm?
Responsibility and accountability have not only taken a beating in American culture over the last several decades, but the entire culture has abandoned those concepts in favor self-destructive beliefs. The things we once valued as the basis of healthy society, like marriage and child-rearing, are now devalued at alarming rates.
For instance, American divorce rates hover around 40 percent. The country’s total fertility rate is 1.76 children per 1,000 women (demographers believe that a country needs a total fertility rate of 2.1 per 1,000 women for societal replacement). Although its incidence has gone down, abortion in the United States remains one of the highest in the developed world, around 12.1 abortions per 1,000 women. These statistics indicate how the Left has successfully decimated the traditional family; reduced the importance of children (as adults prefer to make and spend money for their own gratification); and proves that infanticide is not only legal in the United States, but encouraged as a form of “birth control.”
Let’s go deeper: drunk-driving is one of the leading killers in the United States. Meanwhile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 63,632 Americans were killed in 2016 (many of them teenagers) due to drug overdose (at least 60 percent of those deaths were related to illicit narcotics use). In other words, Americans were either putting themselves and/or others at risk in order to gratify their own, temporal needs.
Then there is the oft-cited statistic that nearly half of my fellow Millennials support socialism over capitalism — in spite of socialism’s historical record of causing extreme misery wherever it is tried. Barely one percent of the American population volunteers to serve in the military (despite the fact that the country is involved in major military operations throughout the world at present). And, personal debt levels among Americans are also at all-time highs (around $13.5 trillion and counting), while most Americans are either unable or unwilling to save their money.
Lack of personal responsibility begins affecting our civic culture when one analyzes the civic engagement levels of the American people. The Pew Research Center claims that the United States ranks lower than most of its fellow OECD countries in terms of voter turnout. When compared to 32 other democracies, American voter turnout ranks 26th (Mexico ranks 15th). As for off-year elections, American voter turnout is extraordinarily low, as are turnout levels for local elections (CityLab claimed in 2016 that “almost no one votes in mayoral elections” anymore).
Tip O’Neill once argued that, “all politics is local.” This is, sadly, no longer the case in the United States today. Everything is deferred to the federal government, so that our citizens can engage in whatever momentary pleasures of the flesh they can abide, irrespective of the costs. Since responsibility in our culture today is no longer a requirement for liberty (it is merely a suggestion), we should come to expect that ordinary Americans will abuse and misuse their rights, whether it be the Second Amendment or any other inalienable right found in the Constitution.
The Long March Through the Institutions
The erasure of liberty and its replacement by state control has been the primary mission of the American Left for over a century. As Diana West aptly analyzed, we’ve experienced the “death of the grown-up” in the United States. Children are individuals who lack the responsibility required for living independently. Today, most Americans are treated as overgrown children by the Left. Only instead of needing adult supervision, they are in need of government oversight. Thus far, most Americans have done little to disprove the Left’s disgusting assumption about them (as evidenced by the data cited above).
Perhaps the Left is correct when it demands that all ordinary Americans surrender their arms to the state. After more than a century of the Left’s “long march through the institutions,” maybe the Left has succeeded in making the American people nothing more than overgrown children. If that is true, and Americans are no longer responsible enough to be trusted to use their Second Amendment rights properly, why end with banning guns? Face it, the Left has managed to slowly decimate our liberty by destroying our culture.
Will the Right ever wake up to what’s happened?