Wallace Henley: How Far Back to the Past Do Trump and Biden Want America to Go?

Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden seem to believe that the best route to the future is through the past.

“Again” in Trump’s slogan—“Make America Great Again”—seeks an age when the United States had “greatness” in the eyes of the world.  Making America “great” in the eyes of God is much more important than the nation’s global standing.

Then there’s Biden’s aim to get us back “like we use to be.” The former vice president wants to lead in a return to “core values” he sees threatened under Trump, to a period Biden characterizes as “ethical” and “straight” as well as truthful and supportive of our allies, an era of “all those good things.”

My concern is that neither man may understand just how far back into historic ages we must go if we are to get to the bright future they envision.

Maybe Trump and Biden should seek a return to the America that Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville visited in the early 19th century. The chaos of his own country’s terror-filled revolution was doubtless much in mind in contrast to what he saw in post-Revolution America.

The French visitor would have recalled the anti-God, anti-religious spirit of the French Revolution.  Reflecting on the intense spiritual landscape of early America, Tocqueville wrote: “When religion is destroyed in a people, doubt takes hold of the highest portions of the intellect and half paralyzes all the others… I doubt that man can ever support a complete religious independence and an entire political freedom at once… if he has no faith, he must serve, and if he is free, he must believe.”

Tocqueville would tell Trump that there is no greatness without a faith that is more than words and mere political expediency. The Frenchman would tell Biden there is no ethics, no truth, no moral straightness, no core values in the secularism that now fascinates so many in his party—if not himself. “Been there, done that,” Tocqueville might say to Biden.

But the period of Tocqueville’s America (1831-32) is not far enough back. The nation was no exemplar of highest values because slavery flourished in many of its states.

What about the crucial age of the formation of the Republic, and its founding documents? Tocqueville would have read the Founders’ belief that God is the source of the fundamental rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and the inferred accountability of government regarding the protection of those rights.

But, again, for the slaveholders of that day—some of whom composed the beautiful expression—the words were somewhat meaningless in their present moment. For today’s supporters of abortion, there is a denial of that basic right.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Wallace Henley