Here we are, 19 January 2021—the last day of basking in liberty before Biden the Usurper assumes the throne. For all his personal foibles and occasional missed opportunities (while acknowledging, of course, his many achievements), President Trump at least fought to ensure that Americans could enjoy freedom and opportunity. Under progressive rule, no such guarantees exist.
But rather than look about gloomily at what is to come, I’d like to offer some words of exhortation. Times will not be easy for conservatives and Christians over the next four years, but I’m trying to embrace this new progressive era with some cautious, small-scale optimism.
For one, I think the whole sordid election fraud, as well as the bipartisan effort to impeach President Trump for—if we’re honest about it—discouraging violence and encouraging peaceful protest—has confirmed for many of us that the elites of both parties are against us. As such, effecting change at the national level seems increasingly futile.
That might sound discouraging, but consider it from another angle: if we can’t make much of a dent at the national level, then why waste the energy? Instead, let’s focus our efforts locally.
Indeed, the integrity of the 2020 presidential election was compromised at the State and local levels, not nationally. Under the Constitution, States conduct elections, even national ones. Other than the date for the presidential election and a few other constitutional requirements, States enjoy broad latitude in determining who is eligible to vote, under what conditions, and even when. I don’t much care for all this early voting (outside of absentee voting for military, travelers, and the infirm), but changing those policies takes place at the State level. Republicans enjoy trifectas in twenty-two States (twenty-three if control of Alaska does not change); now is the time to rewrite voting legislation and to clean up corrupt elections commissioners.
Republican trifectas should also be amending State constitutions immediately to protect free speech, freedom of religion, and all the other great stuff the Bill of Rights is supposed to do, but which a Biden-Harris administration is likely to ignore. States very effectively (and legally and peacefully) resisted some of the more heinous acts of imperial overreach of the Obama Administration; they can do so again, if they have the guts and the foresight to do so.
But I think we should think even more locally than the State level. Local government has more influence over our everyday lives, in a practical, day-to-day sense, than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Sure, she spooks me in the long-term, but right now, I can’t do much about her, and she can’t do much to me. One reason I ran for Lamar Town Council was because I hope to serve my community, and to learn better how local government operates.
Even outside of government, there are ways we can improve our lives. Indeed, I think our fixation on government as a problem solver has stunted, rather than enhanced, our civic spirit. We’ve stopped flexing the muscle of civic engagement because we’ve turned to government as some kind of bureaucratic Santa Claus. Getting involved in church and community organizations is a great way to build up friendships and real social networks, outside of the halls of official power and the clutches of Big Tech censorship.
Smaller still, we should be looking after ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. I am blessed to live in a town where folks look out for one another. The battery once died in my old 2006 Dodge Caravan at the end of my street. The same neighbor who helped me jump it off then came and hooked my van to the back of his truck (we borrowed a tow strap from another neighbor, the one whose house I’d broken down in front of), and we slowly dragged it down the street to my house. He then lent me a powerful charger, which got it running again after a few hours.
Many of you have similar stories. That’s the kind neighborliness that forms the foundation of community. In areas where it is lacking, we should work to cultivate it.
Speaking of cultivation, I am becoming increasingly obsessed with the idea of converting more of my humble half-acre into arable land. I’m researching roto-tillers and cultivators, and am beginning to realize I’m wasting my coffee grounds by throwing them out. Here in South Carolina we enjoy long growing seasons with plenty of rainfall (barring the occasional drought in the late summer). I’m not trying to go “off the grid,” just be in a position to provide more for myself should the need arise (and, besides, who doesn’t like fresh vegetables in the summer)?
There is a certain satisfaction with working outdoors, too, especially with the soil. I spent part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday working in the yard, catching up on some weeding. The feel of soil—my soil—between my fingers is one of the most satisfying experiences of my adulthood. I can see why Jefferson supported the idea of allodial land rights—the idea that each man’s plot of land is his own semi-sovereign kingdom, subject to no higher authority. Land in much of the United States is fee simple, and subject to property taxes and government jurisdiction, of course, but one can see why the Framers of the Constitution sought to limit suffrage to land ownership—if people who own some basic property cast the votes, they’re not going to vote to increase their property taxes willy-nilly.
I’m not advocating we revive land ownership as a qualification for voting, but when one owns land, one owns a piece of America—and his community. It invests one more in the affairs of his community and his government, and brings with it a certain sense of pride. Last summer, I shamefully let my flowerbeds weed over—the place looked like a haunted house. Even though none of my neighbors said anything to me about it (this is the South, after all), I felt increasingly ashamed by the ramshackle appearance of my beds. I took great pride and satisfaction in restoring my garden, both for myself and for my neighbors.
This semi-stream-of-consciousness post has been a long way of stating something simple: even with the terrors of a totalitarian federal government led by an aging, fraudulent puppet at the helm looming just a day away, I can’t help but feel a sense of optimism about the little things in life. Maybe I’m hopelessly naïve. I don’t think so—I fully expect the next few years to hurt—and badly. Christians are going to face real persecution very soon, even worse than the legal wrangling of the Obama administration against groups like The Little Sisters of the Poor.
I’m still breathing.
And remember: Biden may be getting inaugurated tomorrow—but so am I.
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