“Build a powerful government and make sure that only the righteous stand at the helm”

h/t Instapundit in Romney and Obama, Dueling Bostonians:

When Wilsonians turn their gaze toward the United States, they become what I think of as the Bostonian school in domestic politics. Like the New England Puritans to whom they owe so much, today’s Bostonians believe that a strong state led by the righteous should use its power to make America a more moral and ethical country.  This, I believe, is the tradition in American domestic politics that most profoundly shapes President Obama’s worldview; it inspired many of the abolitionists and prohibitionists who played such large roles in 19thcentury reform politics, and it continues to influence the country wherever the spirit of Old New England survives. (Not all domestic Bostonians are international Wilsonians, by the way; some believe that America should lead by example rather than by imposing its views on others.)

Bostonians over the years have changed their ideas about morality; few today would agree with Increase Mather and John Winthrop that the state should punish any deviation from Biblical morality as understood by 17th century puritan divines. But when it comes to punishing offenses against righteousness as defined by a congress of humanities professors, multiculturalist activists and foundation grants officers, the liberal morality police are ready to march — and to smite.  Today’s neo-puritans would certainly agree that once morality has been re-defined in a suitably feminist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-tobacco and anti-obesity way, it is the clear duty of the Civil Magistrate to enforce the moral law—and that our governing constitutions and laws must be interpreted—by the godly who alone ought to be seated on the judicial tribunals—to give said magistrates all the power they require for their immense and unending task of moral regulation and uplift.

Wilsonianism abroad is Bostonianism at home. In both cases, the heirs of the Puritans believe that a strong executive must act to enforce the moral law and that a strong and effective state is the moral agent of the community. They only worry about a strong state in ungodly hands: their idea of politics is to build a powerful government and make sure that only the righteous stand at the helm.

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2 Responses to “Build a powerful government and make sure that only the righteous stand at the helm”

  1. Paul Marks says:

    It is a very instructive quote – but not in the way the original person intended.

    It is full of the sin of pride – and it is worth remembering what the sin of pride actually is.

    It is not, for example, building a house and then looking it and saying “I have done a good job” – that is not the sin of pride.

    The sin of pride is to think oneself a special person, someone without sin, one of the righteous – with a right to rule others (whom one regards as hopelessly inferior to one’s self).

    Calivinists (with their doctrine of the Elect) are vulnerable to the sin of pride – hence the problems among the old Puritans. But it need not have anything to do with theology.

    The modern “Progressive” elite are filled with the sin of pride. They believe they have a right to rule because they are better than other people (who they regard as barely rational at all). It will be good for other people to be manipulated by them (by such things as “libertarian paternalism” and other contradictions) they know how to make other people truly “happy” (in spite of these other people being ignorant “Rednecks” who do not know what is good for them). This is the nonsense these people tell themselves.

    The Harvard (and other elite) did not lose the sin of pride when they lost faith in religion – indeed their pride (their self rightiousness and lust to rule others) expanded and expanded. In place of God they have put up a mirror – and they worship (and try and make everyone else worship) themselves.

    • John says:

      Hey, hey! Go easy on us Harvard types. Not every one of us is a Kennedy… lol

      You do make a great point, perhaps more accurately than you even realize? HU changed its coat of arms during the progressive era. It is three books, with Ve-Ri-Tas overlaid on each. One of the books (“Tas”) used to be turned face down to represent the Truth only knowable by God. Somewhere around 1900 they turned it face up because there is no truth beyond man’s grasp…

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