By Lauren Gideon
It has been about a month since the 2023 elections. As is typical of any election in my lifetime, there was much enthusiasm, effort, passion, and good intentions leading up to the big vote. The races with the most attention in my state were the school board races. You can read my thoughts about those races here. While this election cycle had notoriously low turnout, the results were still jolting to those who had invested so much and anticipated more favorable results.
Temper Your Election Expectations
Elections always carry this sober-‘day-of-reckoning’-aura for those invested in the civic process. The time for head scratching commences. “Where was the red wave?” “Where is that ‘silent majority’?” “Do they not care enough to vote?” “Do they even exist?” “If they do exist, does it even matter if they don’t care enough to participate?”
Unfortunately, I’m usually the person who brings the wet blanket to the party. Despite the narrative at the cheerleading events, I don’t anticipate any significant change in one election. I don’t believe in a silent majority or a “take back our schools” mantra. Why? Those are collectivist slogans employed by those who usually have one primary objective; “How do ‘we’ out-muscle our political opponents.” Since we know power takes numbers, we prefer empty collectivist battle cries to the substantiative truth claims that can be divisive and hurt our potential democratic control. Conservatives claim to be anti-Marxist, while many have also reduced the human experience to a binary power struggle.
Both Parties Want the Same Thing
Recently, I was across the table from a successful activist. He pulled open his laptop and pointed to all the areas shaded red on this U.S. map. He enthusiastically told me how several locations had flipped colors but cautioned my enthusiasm because the margins were tight everywhere. “Do you know what this means?” he asked with optimism in his eyebrows.
“Yes,” I replied. “It means that what these two colors offer is not that different from the other if people are so easily swayed back and forth.” His eyebrows fell. “You know, I hadn’t thought about it that way before.”
To overly simplify, both parties are out to dominate their political opponent through means of political power. The real question is, “What flavor would you like your tyranny?” Because we, Americans, leverage our tyranny through democratic processes, we have given it our blessing because of our nation’s misplaced loyalty to democracy ahead of the preservation of individual liberty. The tyranny of the majority is a cruel reality.
Did Argentina Beat Us to the Punch?
Simultaneously happening in the opposite hemisphere, Argentina has decided to elect a self-professing libertarian (or liberal in Argentine vernacular). Javier Milei, who takes office December 10, is the president-elect who ran a campaign on promises to reduce the scope and size of the Argentine government and “lead the country with a plan of free-market reforms.” 1 Milei says,
“Liberalism is defending the right to life, liberty, and property. The institutions of liberalism support private property, labor mobility, the division of labor, social cooperation, and free markets with limited state intervention. It is serving your fellow neighbor by offering better goods and services. This is what we believe.” 2
While published smear ads are a dime-a-dozen, Milei’s success does invoke a measure of curiosity. Why was this message successful? Is it merely because of Argentina’s economic crisis, or is there a degree of attractiveness to this different political tune?
Now, it is too soon to draw conclusions about Milei himself. There are plenty of reasons to be cautious. However, if we take the human element out of the picture and assess the principles at play, is there a chance that a new (or, dare I say, “old”) theme is brewing? A theme where people are tired of choosing their flavor of political control. Could minds be opened to an alternative paradigm?
Individual Liberty is the Unifier
I think a case could be made that there is a new opportunity for a bipartisan unifier—individual liberty. Could the idea of self-governance be attractive once again? Can both sides lay down their commitment to control and “fixing” their fellow human? Could we settle for the timeless virtues of justice, civility, and freedom of conscience? Could we promote a paradigm where citizens have the freedom to succeed and the freedom to fail, the right to pursue their happiness, and the right to reap the consequences of their actions? That would be a tough bridge to cross for both political ideologies.
Christian conservatives need to remember that while we do have an obligation to seek justice in this life (Micah 6:8) with historical and biblical principles to guide us, there is a higher court. In this court sits the Judge of Judges, who decides what injustices will be made right. In our misguided effort to bring heaven down to earth, we often take on responsibility that isn’t ours to bear. In doing so, we trespass into the life, liberty, and conscience of our neighbors—the very things our founding documents were established to protect.
In the book of Daniel, we read about Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan king who ruled Babylon. After witnessing the miracle of the salvation of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Nebuchadnezzar makes a decree regarding the speech, the expression of the conscience,
“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” (Daniel 3:28-29)
However, this chapter began with King Nebuchadnezzar mandating that all Babylonians worship the Idol he had set up,
“You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.” (Daniel 3:4-5)
Which mandate was to honor the king’s appropriate sphere of governance? Answer: neither.
In both scenarios, Nebuchadnezzar trespassed beyond his sphere of authority into the private property of the human soul. Juxtapose this paradigm with Joshua’s invitation,
“And if it seems evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
Now, before a whistle-blower calls foul—no one in our present moment is blatantly mandating a religion or religious practices. Consider how political ideologies have gone beyond their appropriate spheres. Consider where boundaries of life, liberty, property, and conscience have been trespassed. No matter how well-intended, is justice being upheld? Consider that at the beginning of time, when all things were as they ought to be, humanity was given three things: breath in their lungs (life), a beautiful garden (property), and choice—choice so critical it could save their souls or send their souls to hell (liberty).
Who afforded them these things? God himself. If we don’t afford the same to our fellow man, we have elevated our judgment above God’s and made ourselves god in His place. We have trespassed onto a throne that does not belong to mere mortals and have violated the first commandment, “Thou shalt not have any other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3)
In the twenty-first century United States, are the parties, the politicians, and the people still loyal to the idea of Liberty and Justice for all?
Lauren Gideon is the Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for Classical Conversations. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship IQ on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their seven children on their small acreage, where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.
- Schotgues, Marcus. “Five Things to Know about Argentina’s New President.” The Epoch Times. November 21, 2023. https://www.theepochtimes.com/article/5-things-to-know-about-argentinas-new-president ↩︎
- Peterson, Michael. “Javier Milei: The Argentine Economist Who Could Become the First Libertarian President in Modern History.” Foundation for Economic Education. August 18, 2023. https://fee.org/articles/javier-milei-the-argentine-economist-who-could-become-the-first-libertarian-president-in-modern-history/ ↩︎