Dem Convention Video: Do You Belong to the Government?

Dem Convention Video: Do You Belong to the Government? September 5, 2012

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.

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  • Dorian Travers

    Can I just say what a well-written thought out article. Excellent points. It is chilling to think our nation is removing God from the very framework of our existence as a nation. In one sense, hearing the dems use the language they have hopefully wakes people up. At least now people are starting to get a more clear picture of what direction Obama wants to take the nation. Thank you for the insight.

    • Well, I guess you can just say it, Dorain. And thank you. But more to the point, how can each of us engage to restore sound thinking to our republic?

  • Jay Saldana

    Bill, frankly, this is just ignorant! This IS NOT an Obama video. This IS NOT a DNC video. This is a video from the host committee of Charlotte. As usual, your thinking is being done by the Republican Quick Response force instead of following your very own links and discovering the truth for yourself. I keep expecting -given your mentor – that you are going to leap up to his level of dissent. You continue to disappoint. At least you are consistent in that.

    • Thanks, Jay, but times are tight. Had to unsubscribe to my Republican Quick Response team or whatever it was you called it. Are you suggesting that the DNC did not approve video played at its own convention?

  • Jay Saldana

    Morning Bill, Of course they approved it. Are you saying that the democrats purposely choose to put “that line” in the video” cause that is what they believe? That is the part that is ignorant. A useless gotcha. The only real value is that it gives you an opportunity to feel vaguely superior. You are a smart adult male with great skills running around the schoolyard bragging about catching a mistake from a pre-k student when you have the whole educational system from which to choose. come on, get to work!

    • Rich

      Why all the hostility, Mr. Saldana? The statement in the video is clear, and it is an outrageous assertion. The video is a democratic production. The statements made by democrats are definitionally democratic. Democrats idolize government. Conclusion: they believe what was said.

      • I would add that this question of the proper role of human governemnt is one of the fundamental issues of our age. We can debate about who approved a certain video, but the trend remains the same. We are careening toward a society where the government consumes more of everything — including our loyalties.

  • Brian Mattson

    Jay says the Democratic National Committee is the equivalent of a pre-Kindergarten student.

    Couldn’t agree more. Thank you!

  • Sean

    The libs love to degrade authors and make fun of the littlest thing when they can’t debate the message. To avoid giving them ammunition, you may want to fix the spelling of the word Independence on your line about the Declaration of Independence. Brilliant article and excellent points well delivered. Thank you for writing it.

    • Thanks. But maybe we are subsconsciously redefining independence. How’s that for spin?

  • Just superb, Bill. Keep writing!