By now you’ve no doubt heard of the video shown on the first day of the Democratic Party convention that claimed “government is the only thing we all belong to.” If you haven’t, here is the 17-second clip in question:
There’s some truth to it. I just shocked some of my left-leaning readers, I know. But we do all share bonds and interests that find expression in the business of the polis or public life of the people in civil government. But it’s the use of the word belong to describe our relationship with government that I find distrubing.
Do You Belong to the Government?
I don’t belong to any government. Under our system of government, the government belongs to us — not to me — but to the collective will of the people as expressed through the electoral process. Herein lies the crux of the difference between the two major political parties at present.
On the Republican side, we have Clint Eastwood putting it bluntly:
We — we own it. It is not you owning it, and not politicians owning it. Politicians are employees of ours…. And when somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go. (Source: Fox News transcript)
On the Democratic side we hear that it is we who belong to the government as part of a — dare we say it — national family. Those who have been involved in family businesses know just how impossible it is to let family go even when everyone knows you should. Such thinking quickly leads to paralysis or worse.
We are part of the government, to be sure. But we are part of a greater mosaic in which civil government plays only a role alongside other authorities in family, church, and private entities. An even more important distinction is that the government is not our nation, state, local county, or township. We the people comprise those entities. We the people put representatives in place in civil government to serve us not so that we might someday have the privilege of belonging to it. If government ceased to exist tomorrow, we the people would still remain.
The video, from which the Obama campaign is now trying to create some distance, mistakes the polis for the government. But the collective good of the people is not government. Government exists to serve that collective good. It may do it by “carrying the sword” to dispense justice on behalf of the people. It may do its duty by building and maintaining infrastructure with money given by the people to futher life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It may fulfill its limited purpose by coordinating a capable defense of the people against enemies. But it must always bow to the people and the Creator of those people who gave those rights in the first place.
Where Does God Fit In?
And there’s the rub. Government in all spheres ultimately derives its authority from God. For a party that has removed God from its platform, that’s problematic. There is now no authority higher than government for the Democratic Party. The Declaration of Independence affirms that we belong to something greater than government. By using the word unalienabale, our Founders acknowledged that our rights come from our Creator and not from civil government. Those rights are therefore beyond the purview of any human government. If then there is some common bond beyond those limits on government established by our common Creator, then whatever that is must be what we all truly belong to. Call it the divine, humanity, or — as I do — God. But it transcends human government.
This call for government as the great unifying force is nothing new, of course. The left has been espousing it since it promoted the social gospel a century ago. The trend has continued with the expansion of centralized government and the Great Society. Now government schools have replaced churches and voluntary associations as the mandated hub of the community. Government welfare programs have diminished charities and community helpers as the first resort for those in need. Is it any surprise that we might now be called to acknowledge the centrality of government as the grounds for supporting a political cause?
Imagine how our founders might have reacted to that DNC video clip? Picture it in the context of the Crown asserting its supremacy over them and hear: “The Crown is the only thing we all belong to.” Oh, wait. They did hear that. And the world heard their response.
The Dems are using dangerous language to make their case for Obama’s reelection. History affirms that when governments overstep the boundaries set by God — whether they affirm His existence or not — bad things happen. Rome was also once a republic — until one day its people discovered that their government no longer belonged to them. It was they who belonged to the government. At that point, their highest duty and supreme purpose for existence became fulfilling what was deemed the good of the government as synonymous with the good of the people. Not coincidentally, the government then assumed for itself divine status.
Blurring the Lines
It is a slippery slope we dare not approach, when we begin to blur the lines betwen God and human government.
Compare these recent quotations with my own altered excerpts from elsewhere to help make the point:
If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. ~ (Source: White House Transcript)
Government is the only thing we all belong to…
Sounds a lot like:
Without Government, it is impossible…
With Government, all things are possible.
Apart from Government, you can do nothing.
A little license, to be sure, but a disturbing trend nonetheless. When God departs, He leaves a vacuum human government is always too eager — though unfit — to fill.
What do you make of the DNC video? Leave a comment with a click here.