As Bernie Sanders becomes the front-runner in the presidential race and the Democratic Party appears to be morphing into the “Socialist Workers Guild,” it might be helpful to examine one of the extreme ideas that has emerged from those precincts.
It’s the notion that today’s American citizens should pay reparations (money) to all those descended from slaves.
I have news for the unthinking: Everyone’s ancestors were once slaves.
So, where do you begin–to be “fair?”
Everybody’s Ancestors Were Slaves
Yesterday Bill O’Reilly shared on his podcast (I recommend you sign up for it at billoreilly.com) that for the first time in his life he needs to vocally resist the ideas of the current Democratic Party because they would be disastrous for America.
Those ideas include open borders, the Green New Deal, socialism, killing babies after birth, climate change hysteria, Medicare for All, forcing LBGTQ norms on society, and a host of other radical measures.
Reparations for slavery is one of their absurdly hurtful proposals.
Megan Henney of Fox Business describes the issue (June 20, 2019):
“As the 2020 race begins to heat up, some of the biggest talking points and policy debates are beginning to come into focus. That includes the discussion of reparations for the descendants of slaves in the U.S., a policy that’s been addressed by several Democratic presidential hopefuls – a marked turn from previous election cycles. Both Hillary Clinton the 2016 Democratic nominee and former President Barack Obama opposed reparations.”
“Although critics argue that reparations are impractical to calculate how to fairly distribute, a new paper published in the Social Science Quarterly estimated it could cost between $5.9 trillion and $14.2 trillion ($150,000-$300,000 to every African-American). The author of the paper calculated that number based on the number of hours all slaves worked in the U.S. from when the country was officially established in 1776.”
Henney quotes some former and current Democratic candidates on reparations:
Cory Booker: “Our country is not truly free from the historically rooted and hideous legacy of slavery. I believe right now, today, we have a historic opportunity to break the silence, to speak to the ugly past and talk constructively about how we will move this nation forward.”
Booker has introduced a bill in the Senate that calls for a “study of reparations.”
Elizabeth Warren is one of the 12 co-sponsors of the Senate bill. She says, “We must confront the dark history of slavery and government-sanctioned discrimination in this country that has had many consequences including undermining the ability of black families to build wealth in America for generations,”
Another co-sponsor is Kamala Harris:
“When you are talking about the years and years and years of trauma that were experienced because of slavery, because of Jim Crow and because of all that we have seen in terms of institutional and legal discrimination and racism, this is very real and it needs to be studied. We need to look at exactly how the response should be played out.”
Julian Castro, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and San Antonio mayor was one of the first presidential candidates to say he would consider reparations for black people in the U.S.
“I’ve long believed the country should consider reparations because of the atrocity of slavery. I also believe that we’re never going to fully heal as a country from the racial divide until we’ve addressed the tremendous wrong that was done with slavery.”
Bernie Sanders also co-sponsored Booker’s bill but has some concerns.
“I think what we have got to do is pay attention to distressed communities: black communities, Latino communities, and white communities, and as president, I pledge to do that…and I think there are better ways to do that than just writing out a check.”
Only former vice president Joe Biden has not endorsed reparations in the Booker “study” bill.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the following recommendation in the 2020 Democratic presidential platform this summer:
Every non-black in American needs to pay up for slavery.
Could any public policy be more absurd or expensive than that? (Unfortunately, that answer is yes but I digress.)
Have we so lost our common sense in the West that we forget that ALL our ancestors were once slaves to other nations?
- During the Roman Empire, half of its citizens were slaves–for nearly one thousand years. Should we send a bill to Italy?
- China and Mongolia made each other slaves for centuries–and finally built the Great Wall of China over the conflict (in which 2 million slaves died during its construction). Should Ulaanbaatar write Beijing a check?
- European nations took turns being the slaves for centuries. The Vikings made slaves of the Celts. The Visigoths enslaved the Slavs. Come to think of it, my German ancestors were slaves of the Goths for hundreds of years. Should I appeal to Angela Merkel for a reparations check?
- In the 20th century, the USSR enslaved numerous nations and the Imperial Japanese raped and oppressed the Chinese for a decade. Time to make that right with money?
As ugly as slavery is, during the seven thousand years of human history, more people have served as slaves of another culture than enjoyed the blessings of freedom. In some centuries they were the conquerors and in others the conquered.
Who should be paid? How far back should we go? What if you are half-slave? Or one-tenth?
We have been told by the New York Times via the “1619 Project” that America was founded on slavery. That was 400 years or ten generations ago.
Thank God a wiser group has countered their propaganda. The Woodson Center announced recently sponsorship of “1776,” a collection of essays and other material mostly written by black scholars and community and business leaders.
Their goal is to tell “the complete history of America and black Americans from 1776 to present.”
But not ask for money.
Coleman Hughes, an undergraduate student at Columbia University, is one of the contributors to “1776.” He says, ““Today, we are challenging that  false narrative. Any argument that says the institution of slavery is what makes America unique must grapple with the fact that slavery was practiced in almost every society on earth until just a few centuries ago, as well as the fact that most of those societies have done far less to acknowledge and atone for it.”
“To point to America’s worst sins,” Hughes said, “is to point out what is least unique about us.”
And you can’t pay for past sins.
God’s Word says it best:
“‘Doesn’t the child pay for the parent’s sins?’ No! For if the child does what is just and right and keeps my decrees, that child will surely live. The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins.”
“Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness. But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die” (Ezekiel 18:19-21).
In a book I co-authored this past summer about the life of Dr. Corinthia Boone, she recalls that her grandparents, who were children of freed slaves (just one generation removed), never demanded “a hand-out, just a hand up.”
Let’s follow their example–through the love of Jesus Christ.
Everyone’s ancestors were slaves.
Let’s leave the past behind–and offer a helping hand to everybody who needs one.
For part of my life I viewed the word “democracy” as synonymous with America, apple pie, and everything decent and good.
For example, in 1917 Woodrow Wilson proclaimed America’s entrance into World War I as a crusade to make the world “safe for democracy.”
Huah! (Heard, understand and acknowledged.)
But is democracy really a good thing?
Is Democracy a Good Thing?
The botched Iowa Caucuses last night make me wonder.
The current Merriam-Webster gives the following definition of democracy:
a: government by the people, especially the rule of the majority.
b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.
Most of this sounds good but note in this modern definition the authors stress the idea of “majority rule.”
The original Webster’s Dictionary (1838) defined democracy this way:
“Government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of the people collectively, or in which the people exercise the powers of legislation. Such was the government of Athens.”
The founding fathers and political thinkers in early America knew that majority voting was helpful, but they didn’t like democracy overall because they knew it could become mob chaos as they were currently witnessing in the French Revolution.
Blood was flowing in the streets of Paris–and all in the name of the majority (the people).
My friend, Bill Burtness, wrote a great book on different forms of government entitled The Third Alternative: Christian Self-Government – (Freedom Without Anarchy, Order Without Tyranny, Peace and Prosperity).
He explains there must always be control in human governments because people are fallen–and need restraints. For example, democracies concentrates power in mob rule (French Revolution). Monarchies or dictatorships govern through powerful people (Kim Jong-un of North Korea).
The “third alternative” is the 4000-year leap–the genius of America’s founding fathers. They centered power in a virtuous and knowledgeable people and republican principles based on the “Ten Commandments of God” (James Madison).
In other words, human governments are only as good as the people and rule of law.
Thus, wise folks and political philosophers have always preferred republics over democracies. Why? Because republics tether their leaders–whether kings, elected representatives or the people–to a written standard of conduct that nobody can change (easily).
For the Old Testament nation of Israel, the written code was the Ten Commandments–which could not be altered by a vote of the people. In early America, the uncompromising standard was the United States Constitution.
Republics protect the God-given rights of people–in stone or words.
Democracies do not.
Worldviews tend to produce certain forms of government. Atheism begets socialism, communism, dictatorships, and the unrestrained impulses of mobs (democracy). Atheists don’t believe in God-given rights or commands because they reject the Author.
Biblical faith produces self-government, constitutional republics and Heaven (the Kingdom of God).
America is a constitutional republic–not a democracy (unless we devolve into the abyss).
One of my favorite writers agrees.
Democracy is Another Form of Tyranny
By Walter Williams
“During President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, we’ll hear a lot of talk about our rules for governing. One frequent claim is that our nation is a democracy.”
“If we’ve become a democracy, it would represent a deep betrayal of our Founders, who saw democracy as another form of tyranny.”
“In fact, the word democracy appears nowhere in our nation’s two most fundamental documents, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The Founders laid the ground rules for a republic as written in the Constitution’s Article IV, Section 4, which guarantees ‘to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.’”
“John Adams captured the essence of the difference between a democracy and republic when he said, ‘You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.’”
“Contrast the framers’ vision of a republic with that of a democracy. In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of the government.”
“Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.”
“Here are a few quotations that demonstrate the contempt that our Founders held for a democracy. James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 10, wrote that in a pure democracy, ‘there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual.’”
“At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph said that ‘in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.’”
“Alexander Hamilton agreed, saying: ‘We are now forming a republican government. [Liberty] is found not in the extremes of democracy but in moderate governments. … If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy.’”
“John Adams reminded us: ‘Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.’”
“John Marshall, the highly respected fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, observed, ‘Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.’”
“Thomas Paine said, ‘A Democracy is the vilest form of Government there is.’”
“The framers gave us a Constitution replete with undemocratic mechanisms. One constitutional provision that has come in for recent criticism is the Electoral College. In their wisdom, the framers gave us the Electoral College as a means of deciding presidential elections. That means heavily populated states can’t run roughshod over small, less-populated states.”
“Were we to choose the president and vice president under a popular vote, the outcome of presidential races would always be decided by a few highly populated states, namely California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, which contain 134.3 million people, or 41% of our population.”
“Presidential candidates could safely ignore the interests of the citizens of Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Delaware. Why? They have only 5.58 million Americans, or 1.7% of the U.S. population.”
“We would no longer be a government ‘of the people.’ Instead, our government would be put in power by and accountable to the leaders and citizens of a few highly populated states. It would be the kind of tyranny the framers feared.”
“It’s Congress that poses the greatest threat to our liberties. The framers’ distrust is seen in the negative language of our Bill of Rights such as: Congress ‘shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, and shall not be violated, nor be denied.’”
“When we die, and if at our next destination, we see anything like a Bill of Rights, we know that we’re in hell because a Bill of Rights in heaven would suggest that God couldn’t be trusted.”
I’d like to ask for your prayers today for legendary radio-broadcaster Rush Limbaugh who announced to his audience yesterday he’d been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.
For thirty years Rush has been the clearest thinker in America on republican governments and their principles.
Let’s pray for him and carry on.
Two items dominate the calendar this week in the U.S.
First, the celebration of the civil rights prophet, Dr. Martin Luther King, with a national holiday that bears his name. And second, the partisan impeachment of Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States.
I will deal with impeachment next week when the circus dies down a little. Today I’d like to share some thoughts on race in America.
Dr. Martin Luther King would be pleased–and give God the glory.
“Great things He has done.”