More on “Restore America Now”

Ron Paul’s yard signs say: “Restore America Now.” A good idea, of course– but I question the implied link between such a restoration, and the election of this– or any other– politician.

This is not your usual broad-brushed contempt for “all those crooked politicians.” I’m not that cranky yet. Rather, I simply wonder whether those things that would “restore America” are those things that the world of politics can address.

Imagine a day in the future, when people of differing philosophies and commitments nevertheless agree on this: America is restored! What developments, what events, what changes– on that future day– will people point to as having led to America’s restoration?

Will it have been some American military conquest that will have led to America’s restoration? Some economic policy or federal budget, enacted by Congress, that will have led to such a restoration? Some charismatic president whose messiah-like appeal enables the nation to transcend its differences and unite its energy in common purpose?

The reason those– or any other developments in the world of politics– are unlikely to be cited as having led to America’s restoration, is that they’re all external. They locate all power in the political sphere, and cede to that sphere all resp0nsibility for our common life.

The restoration of America (if it happens) will have political ramifications, but it won’t be driven by politics. It will be driven by those components of culture that touch hearts and minds: education and learning; art and imagination; religion and faithfulness– all of which (if authentic) foster individual character and invigorate communities.

We’ve gone too far astray for the “restoration of America” to entail a simple course correction. At this point, such a restoration will involve transformation: qualitative (rather than quantitative) changes in values and ways of life.

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