Friday’s Hillsdale Dialogue was devoted to a discussion of the Electoral College. Such a discussion involves along trip through The Federalist Papers, because it is a discussion of why we are a republic and not a direct democracy. The host’s discussion with Dr. Adam Carrington was fascinating on many levels, but the most fascinating aspect to this listeners mind was that the “checks and balances” in the Constitution are not only between the branches of government, but that the government itself is designed to check and balance against mankind’s own worst tendencies and foibles. As I hear our honorable opposition discuss any number of nearly unthinkable ideas, like doing away with the Electoral College, I wonder if they have ever allowed themselves to consider just how base, as humans, we really are?
On Friday, I wrote about “The Death of Aspiration,” wondering if younger generations truly aspire to anything great. In that post I wrote, “There is an irony in that. Generations raised to “feel good about themselves” clearly do not, as evidenced by their lack of aspiration.” It seems that when we are simply told we are good, as opposed to understanding that we are not and working to become so, that we fail to actually be good. Arthur Brooks has said that happiness is based on earned success. That means to be happy we have to strive to be better than we are. But in orer to do such striving, we have to face the fact that we are not so good to begin with.
Where does that kind of confidence and reliability in relationships come from? Our experiences of human relationships are littered with examples of lack of dependability and breach of trust. It’s entirely understandable that we would approach life with suspicion and distrust.
That’s what makes the current raft of ideas form the left so remarkable. These are ideas that come from a place that ignores people’s obvious flaws. It has become cliché to note that in my lifetime we have gone from “don’t get in cars with strangers” to using our smartphones to hail essentially unvetted strangers to give us rides. But clichés are typically true, and there is a deep truth in that observation. We have moved from a basic presumption of people’s unreliability to people’s reliability. That is certainly idealistic, but history is littered with idealistic communities that failed. Failed precisely becasue people are not nearly so reliable as our ideals would have them be.
And this is why Christianity makes so much sense. It is an ideal based not in wishes and desires, but in the harsh reality of mankind’s deep flaws….