Render Unto Caesar…
Regardless of what happened last Tuesday, whether there was a red wave or a blue wave, or your candidate won or your candidate lost, we should not be as affected as we are with the outcomes of our elections. Our government was not designed for that. And the fact that we are affected this much means that we have it all backwards. Our lives and the outcomes of our lives should not be altered very dramatically based on who the President is or who controls Congress. But sadly, they are. On the morning of Wednesday, November 9th, the day after the election, we should not have to run to the TV set or to our computer screens to see who won the election to determine how good or bad our lives are going to be for the next 2 to 4 years. If our government has that much control over our lives that we live and die with each election, then we have ceded the government way too much power, and the American experiment has failed.
We should live in a country where if we want to see who is responsible for the outcome of our lives, all we have to do is look into our bathroom mirror. Self-determination should be just that – self-determination. And it should not merely be expressed in showing up and voting, it should show up in every day of our lives regardless of who we voted for and regardless of who received the most votes. That’s the point of a constitutional republic. It is supposed to keep government power in check and in doing so, empower the citizen.
Thomas Jefferson said, “The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.” We fight that battle continuously – the battle for self-governance. Self-governance does not just manifest itself in our ability to cast a ballot every 2 to 4 years, choosing between being ruled by the small elite of one party or the other. Self-governance is the right to determine the course of our own lives every day. Any politician who tells us that he is not only going to make our lives better but that he is also responsible for making our lives better is not only lying to us but doing us a disservice because each and every one of us should be the one responsible for the outcomes of our own lives.
Jefferson also warned, “Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have.” Sadly, our government has grown so big that far too many people are relying on it to supply the very necessities of life, and in doing so, allowing the government to control all of our lives. Our politicians want that level of control over us because they are able to use that control to attain more and more power for themselves.
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.” That day has already come. In this election cycle, President Joe Biden, one month before the mid-terms, issued an unconstitutional executive order forgiving $20,000 of many voters’ student loan debt. He bribed these voters with their own money. And Gen Z, the generation who would most benefit by the cancelling of student loan debt, voted in record numbers for the Democrats. And less than a week after the election, Joe Biden’s executive order was ruled unconstitutional, but his party still received all those votes anyway. So, he was able to bribe all these people to vote for his party without having to pay any of them one dime.
We hear a lot about “our democracy” these days. And how “our democracy” is being threatened. But we are not a democracy, we are a constitutional republic. And the difference is not small. Democracies promote mob rule whereas constitutional republics protect individual rights and liberty. Alexis de Tocqueville addressed the “tyranny of the majority” within democracies when he wrote, “Tyranny in democratic republics… ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you… You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.” Written almost 200 years ago, that sounds eerily like cancel culture that has taken hold of our country today. People are shunned and ostracized by merely thinking the “wrong things” in modern day America. And many times, people are cancelled by a small but vocal minority on social media. So, we feel powerless afraid to express what we think and believe. Dave Chappelle summed it up this past weekend on Saturday Night Live when he said, “It shouldn’t be this scary to talk.” But sadly, it is.
We should never allow elections or politicians or even government to have that much power over us because who we are is so much greater than whatever is found in the political sphere. The day after the election, actress Patricia Heaton tweeted, “For those of you who are Christians and who feel disappointed or despairing of the election results, it is a blessing to be reminded that our security does not rest in men or governments, which are finite and will eventually crumble, but in God alone who is ever sustaining.” Not only our security, but our souls. And we should never forget that. No matter how much power the small elite in Washington, DC, wrest from and lord over the people, remember, they are all mortals who will meet their ultimate demise pretty soon, and whatever power and wealth they are able to attain in this lifetime, cannot be carried forth into the next. The one thing in this world that does endures beyond this world for eternity is our soul. So regardless of who wins an election or what policies are enacted, we can never allow that to cause us to lose sight of our ultimate purpose, and that purpose is not of this world. And that is why Jesus so aptly said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars, and unto God that which is God’s.”
Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.