King: ‘Where’s the Outrage?’
by Stephen M. King, Ph.D.
Bill Clinton’s tawdry affair with Monica Lewinsky in 1998 spawned dozens of books, articles and essays. None was more stinging than William Bennett’s “The Death of Outrage.” Therein, Bennett, former secretary of education under George H.W. Bush, excoriated Bill Clinton and largely the political Left for their utter disregard of political propriety and disregard for moral character.
More importantly, Bennett lamented the utter lack of outrage by the American public. He asked the question then, and I ask the question now: Where is the nation’s institutional and national moral compass?
Today in the U.S. there is political corruption and scandal, tortured partisan politics with abdication of congressional responsibility, unhinged regulatory and executive decision-making, abandonment of the rule of law, far left- and right-wing minority interests pushing radicalized agendas and disregard for constitutional rights and liberties (except where these radicalized agendas and interests find it appropriate). Worst of all, there is a deterioration of the public moral standards that once made us different from the rest of the world.
The unprecedented political backlash of the radicalized pro-gay rights movement against Gov. Mike Pence over Indiana’s version of the national Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) brings the the nation to a tipping point. Will a sense of moral character and judgment prevail in the public market place of political ideas and action? Or will this republic founded two centuries ago crumble under the onslaught of an ideologically biased mainstream media, a morally unaccountable social media and an unwillingness of elected politicians at all levels to engage in reasoned, controlled debate?
What, again, has happened to the public outcry? What has happened to the spiritual backbone of the nation? Has political pluralism, the genius of a modern liberalized society, morphed into an intolerant cesspool of minority interests trumping majority rule?
God and man are at loggerheads. The spiritual character of a truly tolerant society and a diverse society (which, I might add, is a myth propagated by political elites to squelch political uprising) are both effectively and de facto lost.
Our institutional character that monitors and promotes public civility, whether from the traditional family to international organizations, has been sabotaged by well-funded and resourced special interests that include the ACLU and LGBT on the Left and the NRA and anti-tax organizations on the Right.
Understand that character is not only about interpreting right and wrong or good and bad actions against a Natural Law or even a spiritual barometer such as the Golden Rule. It is about respecting the human and political freedoms and rights of those with whom you disagree.
When one side continually tries to out-shout or one-up the other side, whether for toleration of gays and lesbians or for respecting the religious freedoms of evangelical Christians, then the partisan battle may be won, but the war for our public soul is lost.
In that regard, America has spiraled out of control. Public outrage is silenced by the intolerant “tolerance” that permeates society’s institutions and organizations. Public discontent is leveraged against the insistent demand for gaining and maintaining political power — and the former will lose every time.
Ancient societies with similar public disposition imploded, leaving a political and moral vacuum later to be filled by dispersed and spurious fringe elements — Rome, late 18th-century France, early 20th-century Russia and now early 21st-century United States.
Near the conclusion of the American Constitutional convention, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “What have we created, Dr. Franklin?” His answer contained a prescient warning: “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”
Well, now we know.
Stephen M. King, Ph.D., is a political scientist and adjunct scholar of the foundation who lives in north-central Indiana.