DECATUR Where will it all lead? That's a question which often crosses my mind. It's hard to imagine a dissolution of the United States of America, but the possibility that it could happen is probably a lot more real than anyone cares to think.
Why would I say such a thing? Believe me, it's nothing I desire. But have you considered the factors which often lead to the death of a nation - a failing economy, an over-extended military, a huge national debt, unsustainable spending, an unbearable tax burden and discontent among the people. And though not all would agree with me, declining moral values always lead to a fall - and we've got that problem too!
Growing up during the Cold War, I have to admit I was surprised at the rapid demise of our archenemy, the Soviet Union. It suffered from all of the above, and all efforts to hold things together ultimately failed.
Are we divided? A look at the map of the 2008 presidential election results showed sharp division between the heavilypopulated states in the northeast and on the west coast and the more-rural states in between. It's true that both the popular vote and the electoral vote were overwhelming, but that doesn't mean that there were not also many states and groups of states which were not in agreement with the majority - and by large margins.
And, no, this is not about race. It's not even about a single office. It's about morals, policies and a lack of respect for the Constitution and the limits it places upon the federal government.
There have always been the few who have talked of states or regions seceding from the Union for this reason or that, but such talk has become more and more common of late - even in the halls of state legislatures.
Right next door, in Oklahoma, there have been bills and resolutions on the floor telling the federal government to backoff and stay within its constitutional limits or else - maybe the independent state of Oklahoma or perhaps a union of likeminded states? Do I need to practice whistling Dixie?
I've even heard talk of the possibility of another civil war - and these comments aren't from those fringe groups where one might expect to hear such things, but from everyday and heretofore loyal Untied States citizens.
Why? Because people are upset that the federal government continues to overstep its constitutional bounds and attempts to regulate just about everything. They are tired of seeing the national debt go up and up, and they know that taxes will have to go up to service the national debt and pay for all the new programs of the federal government. They feel threatened and are unwilling to yield any more of the rights guaranteed to all citizens by the United States Constitution.
And, of course, many Americans are simply fed up with more and more of the same.
They fear government control of their health care, and they know that requiring all Americans to have health insurance will only add to the health-care crisis. If employers are required to provide insurance, many employers will be forced to close their doors or lay off employees. If individuals are fined for failure to be insured, those who can't afford insurance will be even less able to afford medical care. If the government is going to pick up the tab for insurance costs - whether for the poor or for everyone - already-unbearable taxes will become more unbearable. If insurance companies will be required to insure anyone without regard for their health or pre-existing conditions, someone will have to pay the bill, and that means higher insurance premiums for all of us. And, of course, who can afford it?
Shall I continue?
If the government regulates energy use and greenhouse gas emissions with a cap and trade program, don't be fooled. It won't just be the big energy companies and the large manufacturers that pay. That cost will be passed on to all energy users and consumers - to folks like you and me. Monthly electric bills will go up, and we'll have to pay more for many of the products we buy at the store because it takes energy to produce them and ship them.
If space permitted, I could go on yet further, but I'll get back to the question at hand.
What is going to happen? I don't claim to know, but I would certainly suggest that the federal government begin to listen to the people.
Now is not the time to shove unwanted programs down the throats of the American people. Now is not the time to raise taxes, give away tax dollars or pass legislation which will raise the cost of living for American citizens. It's not the time to escalate U.S. involvement in foreign conflicts or to fight wars we can't really win. And now is certainly not the time - though such should never even be considered by any legitimate government official - to take away more rights guaranteed to citizens by the Constitution.
If those in power are determined to seize their moment and foist their agenda on the nation, they will widen the rift in an already-divided nation. Unrest will increase, and the talk of secession may become more than talk.
And it won't do the government any good to lie and cover up political agendas or their ultimate costs. The people aren't all as stupid and gullible as many politicians might think.
Sooner or later they'll figure it out and realize what's happened.
I can't help but think of an example in the ancient kingdom of Israel following King Solomon's death when his son Rehoboam assumed the throne (1 Kings 12, for those who wish to read it). Taxes were high - though probably not near as high as they are now - and the people wanted relief. Rehoboam's older counselors advised him to listen to the people and serve them, but his younger companions and friends counseled him to increase the tax burden upon the people and be forceful in dealing with them. Rehoboam didn't listen to his older and wiser counselors but pursued his own political agenda. The result was rebellion and a divided kingdom.
And for those of you willing to consider the rest of the story, the rebellion and division of the kingdom during Rehoboam's reign was from God as a punishment for their disobedience to His commandments. That's something to think about.
Good government is indeed a blessing of God (Romans 13), and the thought of what could so easily happen if our nation divides and governments fail is frightening. But it is also true that God at times gives to nations the rulers they deserve rather than the rulers they need to survive and prosper.
Opinion, Pages 5 on 09/23/2009