It is not so long ago that America united around a core of shared values. They were not partisan, but fundamental beliefs shared by Whigs, federalists, Democratic Republicans, Democrats and Republicans.
Americans believed that justice should be universal, not dictatorial, and that the role of judges was to decide the law, not to dictate it. A peaceful articulation of opposing views was appropriate; the suppression of unpopular opinions, much less violence, sedition or open war, was not. Those who risked their lives to defend our lives, our home and our property were recognized as the best Americans, and the goal of domestic affairs was to eradicate bad actors, not to punish officers for resisting violent attackers.
None of these values were first promoted by modern thinkers. Nor did we acquire them from Romans, Greeks, Vikings or Visigoths. The founding fathers found them in the teachings given to Moses in the Bible. No one can deny that these and other values common to first world civilizations – such as life, education, family and social responsibility – are ancient.
Nevertheless, none of the values mentioned above can be assumed today, and the guilt for this can be summarized in one word: progressivism. The American experiment with this philosophy has proved a dangerous failure – and the more it is promoted, the more it falls to decent Americans to condemn it. It is not a step forward, but a step backwards into more primitive times.
Some of us recognized this when the left decided that sentient people who are able to recognize and be comforted by the sound of their parents’ voices and their mothers’ heartbeats are merely collections of cells that women can throw away without calling it murder.
For others, it was when marriage was ripped out of its biblical definition and redefined to include any couple of individuals who wish to unite. For others, it was when doctors stopped offering psychological care and instead promoted the introduction of drugs and total body mutilation as methods of resolving unresolved dysphoria-even in prepubertal children.
Resisting these things does not mean having a phobia. To want to protect and care for those affected by these phenomena is anything but hatred. But those who promote these “progressive” ideas like to denounce anyone who clings to traditional values as homophobic, transphobic or even racist.
All this is nonsense. The partisan environment in Washington is not a bipartisan problem; rather, it results from the fact that one side claims that the same ideas that they themselves held a generation or two ago are now forms of hate speech. This makes civil discourse impossible.
In 2000, Senator Joe Lieberman was nominated by the Democrats for vice president. In 2006, the Left in the Democratic Party dismissed him prematurely-and he was re-elected because supporters created “Connecticut for Lieberman” and members of both parties backed him. So there is hope.
But also in 2000, Senate candidate Hillary Clinton declared that marriage exists between a man and a woman. Had she not turned her back in 2016, she would have lost the Democratic presidential candidacy. And that is a problem.
Where do you draw the line? When will your Rubicon be crossed?
Do you believe that children should be denied foster care and left in group homes because any provider who requires future parents to live in a traditional marital union must be denied a license? Progressives claim to believe this – see Fulton v. Philadelphia, due to be heard next Wednesday in the Supreme Court.
Do you believe that a person who believes that G-d watches over him or her and expects a higher standard of conduct should be disqualified from high office, such as a seat on the Supreme Court? The Constitution explicitly prohibits a religious test, but progressives brazenly used one against today’s judge Amy Coney Barrett anyway.
Do you believe that women in a women’s shelter should be forced to share rooms with biological men who claim to be women-and that if a woman refuses to do so, she should be the one who is ejected to sleep on the street? Yes, that really happened – see Downtown Hope Center vs. Anchorage.
Do you think that the police need to stop police work and allow shootings in which mainly colored youths are killed, prevent firefighters and paramedics from reaching their homes, and open the doors for looting and arson in their stores? I live in Baltimore, where the murder rate has skyrocketed since the police have been prosecuted for their work – and the victims are of course mostly colored. For the progressives, these are obviously not the black lives we’re talking about.
Oh, and another thing: Do you have a more positive opinion of Cuba than of Israel? According to a recent YouGov survey, this now applies to the average member of the Democratic Party.
The most important question we face on Tuesday is not whether the efforts to combat COVID were botched or brilliant. It is not about the unprecedented pace of economic recovery or even the achievements for peace in the Middle East – much less about the character flaws of the two candidates. It is about whether America’s moral foundation will be strengthened or further damaged, possibly irreparably. This, too, has already happened.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken is the executive director of the Coalition for Jewish Values.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author….