The People in the Mirror: What the 2016 Presidential Race Has Revealed


Phil Jensen


The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. – Montesquieu

From an early age, most people understand that the image we see in a mirror isn’t completely “true.”  For example, raise your right arm…the image in the mirror raises its left arm; look to the left and the image looks to the right, the opposite direction; that scar on your right eyebrow is on the left, etc.  Still, it’s a close enough image of our true selves that a mirror is a convenient and useful device when shaving, applying makeup, checking our attire, etc.

The 2016 presidential primaries have revealed just such an image of America’s electorate, one that is the exact opposite of what it should be.  Let me explain –

Rick Kriebel 2016


Throughout human history there have been men who would rule over other men.   As philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote in Leviathan, “…in the first place, I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.”  Early on they assumed the role of leader through sheer physical strength.  Later, those who weren’t the strongest were sometimes able to achieve control through alliances with others, so their combined strength was greater than the Alpha Male types.  However men gained power, it is a human trait that they always desired to keep it, thus they passed it along to sons (and later, daughters), either through tribal customs or established lines of royalty.

Naturally there were often competing strongmen, those not content to be ruled over but who desired to rule instead.  Most of the wars in history can be traced in some degree to this simple fact: those desiring to rule over others fighting to achieve or keep that power.  In every historical period and in every nation, this has been the case, with the result that ordinary people (i.e., those without such power), have through most of human history been subject to despotic rule by tribal chiefs, kings and princes, with very little say about how they lived their lives.  As Hobbes wrote, most men’s lives were “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

But the Founding Fathers of this nation, well-versed in history and steeped in political philosophies, changed all that.  For the first (and only) time in history, these men, the elite of their era, instead of consolidating power to themselves did the unthinkable: they turned that power over to ordinary people.  Because most Americans in the past few generations have not been taught history in general, and American history in particular, it’s no surprise that many today simply assume the freedoms and opportunities we’ve enjoying in the U.S. to be the norm for people.  It most definitely is not, even today.

Woodrow Wilcox


But the Founders wrote extensively of what is required if ordinary Americans (i.e., “we, the people”) were to wield…and maintain…the power that the Continental Congress turned over to them.   Instead of being ruled by tyrants who inherited their right to rule based simply on their birth into the right family, “we, the people” had to acknowledge that our freedoms come not from the changing whims or largesse of kings, but from Almighty God.  Since they’re a gift from God, no man, regardless of family, power, longevity of service or any other claim, can rightly deprive others of those freedoms.

It’s called the Rule of Law, and that is the mirror image of the Rule of Man, for the Rule of Law insists that all people be accorded the same rights and freedoms, the same dignity and respect in all interactions with those assuming temporary positions of authority and power (i.e., government elected by the people).  Only by this Rule of Law could a democratic republic prevent a slide back into the despotic tyranny of the few over the many, and the Founders wrote repeatedly about the necessity for distrusting those in government, and the requirement to keep a close watch on their freedoms.  It was not foreign countries that represented the greatest threat to those freedoms, they warned, but the very people to whom we entrust that power (i.e., elected officials).

To thwart that threat, the Founders wrote, the populace must be educated and informed, which would enable them to recognize any moves by those in power to overthrow the will of the people and return to a government of the few.  Jefferson, for example, wrote “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

So on the two pillars of faith (in God who bestowed our freedom) and knowledge (enlightenment, reason) did they establish this nation.  I’m not the first to point out that it is exactly those two foundational elements of our founding that have been the target of so many over the past half century, including (especially?) by those we’ve elected to preserve this system of government that has given us such prosperity and power, and untold opportunities for everyone who can make it to our shores.

Since the late 50s there has been an effort to separate Americans from the God Who gave us the freedoms we’ve enjoyed, and for almost as long there has been a move to “dumb down” public education, replacing our history with melodramatic stories of supposed colonialism and oppression, especially of American Indians and blacks.  The 2016 Presidential Primaries reveal just how successful those efforts have been.

On the Democrat side Bernie Sanders, an avowed Socialist, has garnered huge support from college-age Americans, those to whom the idealized fantasy of “free” education, health care, housing, etc., sounds like nirvana.  Clearly they haven’t learned the true history of that ideology, or the squalor, misery, oppression and murder it has spawned in the past 150 years (over 200 million, some say over 300 million, murdered by their own Socialist governments).  Hillary Clinton, guilty of illegal dealings (e.g., Whitewater), possibly murder (Vince Foster, et al), treason (selling American nuclear secrets to China for campaign contributions), dereliction of duty (Benghazi)…hell, the list would make a 1,500 word essay all on its own!

On the Republican side Donald Trump, an amoral, self-absorbed billionaire with more shady dealings in his past than a few, and with apparently no more an understanding of how a democratic republic is supposed to work than the average college student, has reaped the rewards from decades of GOP betrayal and deceit, garnering the support of the disaffected and disgusted Republican voters, despite his adolescent buffoonery and empty, outlandish promises.

The “mirror” of these primaries has revealed far more about “we, the people” than about any of the candidates.  For example, a good, even noble man like Ben Carson can’t even compete in American politics today…what does that say about you and me?  Ted Cruz, who won his Senate seat as a Tea Party candidate pledged to confront the establishment in Washington, D.C., is perhaps the most Constitutionally faithful candidate in the past 100 years, yet you’ve let the charlatan Trump and the media (the communication wing of the Democrat Party) brand him as a liar and an unlikeable, even despicable, person.  (But anybody who can have the sleazy, lying ex-Speaker of the House and other establishment Republicans call him names has to have done something right!)

So, we’ll get Trump versus Hillary.  Out of 330 million Americans, these will be our choices.  And you have nobody to blame but the person in the mirror, the one who has not retained that acknowledgement of God as the Author of our freedoms, nor bothered to learn and understand our history and how our government is supposed to behave.  Oh, it all looks normal, with primaries and elections and son on, but everything about American politics today is backwards, a mirror image of what it should be.  As bad as Hillary and Trump are, the real revelation of the 2016 Presidential Primaries has been the utter moral bankruptcy and appalling political ignorance of the American people, of whatever political party.

Like Cain, many Americans today want paradise, but without God.  Smarmy politicians will cynically proclaim “God Bless America” when pandering for support, but based on their actions they know nothing of God.  To that I’ll say this: God DID bless this nation, beyond any other in history…and look what “we, the people” have done with those blessings.



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Formerly a liberal and an atheist, Paul E. Scates served as a Marine in Vietnam and is a lifelong student of American history, politics and culture. A former contributor to national website, he writes his staunchly independent Conservative and informed Christian commentary for his fellow ordinary, working Americans, the “we, the people” who are ultimately responsible for preserving our Constitutional liberties.
Paul E. Scates
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