Since Tabletalk is neither a daily nor a weekly publication, and because articles must be submitted weeks and even months in advance, I am writing for this edition at a bizarre moment in American history. It is Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2000, and the nation is being squeezed in the grip of political paralysis as it waits to learn the outcome of the presidential election.
Chances are that by the time you read this, the matter will have been settled and the election wrangling will be but a dim memory. Nevertheless, whatever the outcome, it is certain that the razor-thin margin of this election demonstrates a serious rupture of American unity. We are engaged in a real cultural war, with two societies locked in a severe struggle for dominance.
We are living out the consequences of a revolution that took place in the decade of the 1960s. Cultural historians see that revolution as far more impactful upon national life than the American Revolution of the 1770s. The Revolutionary War was fought to preserve the American way of life, which was threatened by British imperialism. In the 1960s, the revolution was to change the American way of life. It was a values revolution fueled by the sexual revolution and a moral rejection of classical behavioral standards.
More than 30 years later, the nation remains sharply divided. But the division is not simply about political party preference. The issues have to do with customs, traditions, mores—in short, with competing ways of life.
Abortion is still the most contentious issue. This is not a debate about complex ethical issues related to rape or incest. It is a debate about abortion for convenience wrapped in the sacred garb of personal liberty and cunningly tied to the feminist insistence on the “right of a woman over her own body” and her inalienable “right to choose.” These slogans display a kind of moral insanity that masks wanton murder with the patina of respectability.
It is now a matter of incontrovertible biological evidence that a fetus, although in a woman’s body, is not biologically of her body, for it has its own genetic identity. Thus, the argument from choice is vapid. We have not (yet) embraced the idea that everyone has the right to do whatever he or she wants to do. The very existence of human beings contradicts that premise.
This wanton destruction of human life reveals a cultural change to barbarianism. It reveals a way of life utterly incompatible with Christianity. American Christians must come to grips with the reality that they are living in a pagan land. Even the church has been part of the revolution. In yesterday’s election, more than 40 percent of church members voted for candidates who were pro-abortion. (I say pro-abortion rather than “pro-choice” because they are, legally at least, identical terms. A vote for “choice” is a vote for abortion, as every abortionist knows.)
Another aspect of the cultural war is a breakdown of marriage and the family. The very institution of marriage has witnessed wholesale rejection by millions of couples, who choose cohabitation instead. In addition, the speech of Americans, from teen-agers to TV and movie actors, has degenerated into vulgarisms. The customs of courtesy have eroded almost to the vanishing point.
The agitation of politicians has created a class war, with economics being politicized. American politics has become an exercise in socialism, with the transfer of wealth enshrined as the new American way. Estates are double taxed and the system, with its “progressive” or “graduated” income tax, allows people to vote their taxes onto others while exempting themselves. In earlier times, such a practice would have been viewed as exactly what it is—a legal way to steal from others. If I can vote myself your private property, I use the government’s gun rather than my own to steal from you. The only way to rectify this injustice is a true flat tax under which every taxpayer pays the same percentage but not the same amount. Then politicians cannot dangle the pork barrel to sway votes with money.
This election of 2000 screams for election reform. I wonder whether the shout will merely be a whimper by the time this article reaches print.