Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.
~ John Adams
Attorney General William Barr gave what I think is one of this century's most important American speeches at the University of Notre Dame last week. The full text of his address is linked here, from the Department of Justice website. I think every American should read every word of it.
The left-wing reaction to Barr's honesty is telling. The vicious, vituperative nature of the outrage against him is to be expected, but it is also indicative of a deep fear--a terror, even--of the truth. Rather than tearing Barr down with their slanderous insults, secular elites are calling attention to their own moral bankruptcy. It's not a pretty sight. Paul Krugman's sneering column is but one example of Barr's critics completely missing the point.
Barr is not promoting any specific religion, but rather the need for a "system of values" in which we are self-governing. "Moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will," states William Barr. Translation: God's laws should rule human behavior. The secular left goes out of its collective mind at the slightest suggestion of God's authority. A fact that was so obvious to our nation's Founders is woefully unapparent to our woke progressives today.
Leaving criticism aside, Barr's remarks are also receiving their fair share of praise, as well they should. Townhall's Terry Jeffrey calls the speech a touchdown; I like to describe it as a grand slam.
In his address, Barr quotes James Madison: "We have staked our future on the ability of each of us to govern ourselves." As he expressed Madison's concept:
This is really what was meant by “self-government.” It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.
Here Barr reminds us of our nation's founding as a "great experiment" in self government--not merely as a political structure, but as a personal way of life. This is what the Founders believed would allow the country to succeed; it is this belief that has powered the building of the unique nation we are fortunate enough to have.
The great American experiment was a huge gamble by the Founders, and the entire game is at stake today. Are We the People still up to the challenge of self government? Or has our U.S. Constitution become "wholly inadequate" to the people we are now, as John Adams warned it could? Values, virtue, and time will tell.