There is a kind of political schizophrenia in the state of Iowa’s political mindset.
But Iowa is not alone. As America continues its obvious slide toward more and more socialism, the lure of big government induces a irresistible delusion on all of us. As more states begin to turn blue, there is a general and corresponding acceptance of defective and contradictory political thought. There is no comfort in knowing that Iowa is not alone.
Chasing Shiny Objects
The shiny promises of government play tricks on both the electorate and the elected. Politicians increasingly call themselves “conservatives” while supporting legislation that makes states and voters slaves of the federal machine.
We should know from history alone that government lures us with its charms, each promise loaded with multiple barbs designed to snare us, to put us on the hook, to reel us toward our final destiny: slavery to the state.
C.S. Lewis tells us that Screwtape counseled Wormwood in the fine art of conflict, saying, “The only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick.”
Iowa, like America’s other 49 states, is caught in the vortex of conflict, compromise, and concession.
Iowa’s Conflict is America’s Conflict
In the C.S. Lewis classic, The Silver Chair, a witch takes great strides to convince Puddleglum and the children that Underland is the only real world, that their beliefs about the Upper World, the sun and Aslan, are only “a pretty make-believe.”
This is what big government does to us. It creates conflict, doubt, suspicions about our real selves and the voices that show us the difference between right and wrong, truth and error, self-sufficiency and dependence. The government wants us to believe it is the only real world. Our existence apart from it is a fantasy, a delusion, a dream that isn’t real.
In the letters, Screwtape tells Wormwood: “Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily ‘true’ or ‘false,’ but as ‘academic’ or ‘practical,’ ‘outworn’ or ‘contemporary,’ ‘conventional’ or ‘ruthless.’ Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church…”
This is an apt description of the great Iowa conflict. This is America’s conflict. The dozens of incompatible philosophies dance in our individual and collective heads. We desperately try to sort through them to label them right, wrong, true, false, suspect, old, bad, useful, and then, in order to simply cope, we try to shove them into carefully arranged storage bins, thinking if we tuck them away, all will be well. But while collating and categorizing political lies might help us cope by delaying the inevitable, in the end, the deceit works its magic.
Conflicts Dancing in our Heads
Somehow we’re able to repeatedly justify unsustainable deficits, our loss of national sovereignty due to the massive loopholes in our immigration laws, and we tolerate abortion too. Our right-brains tell us we are endowed by the Creator with an unalienable right to life, while our left-brains justify the murder of a baby by invoking a fake “right to choose [murder].” This is the sort of “incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head” that Lewis’ demons are referring to.
Not for a second do I believe all Iowa farmers are liberals, dependent on the benevolence of the state for sustenance. It’s an incompatible thought dancing about seeking reconciliation. Yet, what is true is the clever control the government exerts over Iowa’s farmers. Then also, there are Iowa’s teachers, plumbers, law enforcement personnel, and a host of others whose sense of self-reliance is blurred by the hollow promises of the state, our Wormwood.
The Wormwood of our conflict is the faceless and nameless myriad of bureaucrats who are collectively the real government. These are those whose purpose is to craft the principles of control, to manage the incompatible notions that dance in our minds, slamming into one another with all the force of random chaos.
Politicians campaign on free markets, traditional values, lower taxes, God and country, smaller government, balanced budgets, ending abortion, the repair of immigration loopholes, a strong military, the wall, fixing crime, and so on. So, we elect them again, and again, and again, watching them build their careers in conflict with their stated promises.
Like us, the elected are stricken with conflict. Unwittingly, their daily regimen brings them face-to-face with Wormwood who is constantly plying them, telling them there is no right and wrong, only compromise. There are no real doctrines, merely theories. Being in the middle becomes the norm; the applauded position becomes the doctrine. It’s the unspoken objective of the government to separate itself from the irritant of standards, to wash things in bleach, to remove the colors, to make it all gray, to remove distinctions.
With government, “The only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy.”
Anchors, Oars, Sails, and Safe Ports
We are increasingly detached from our social and spiritual anchors, adrift in a sea of personal and political conflict. We are left alone to the mercy of political currents carrying us to an unknown destination. This is our conflict, our political crisis.
Until we seize the oars, raise the sails, and chart our own destiny back to a safe port, we will remain in political conflict. We are not deckhands on the ship; we are the captains!
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