TED MALLOCH: The State of Our Union
The State of Our Union
Ted Malloch, coauthor of America’s Spiritual Capital
On January 29th President Trump was supposed to go to Congress and deliver his annual State of the Union speech.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to cancel it but he would have none of that, so she disinvited him until the shutdown is over.
Now it is over but it is not yet scheduled.
He should have played her for what she is a loser and a petty person and given the address on his time and at a place of his choosing.
It would behoove him to either give that constitutionally described and mandated address in the US Senate chambers or in another State capital.
Why let Pelosi and the radical Dems control and box him in?
In that address he could outline where we have come and where we will go under his leadership this coming year.
It is precisely what all Presidents’ are called to do.
He should take a bow for what has been accomplished and also signal how much more he hopes to achieve in the year ahead.
Few Presidents have been so productive.
This next year and then the (re) election in 2020 is a critical and historic crossroads and we desperately need his strong leadership.
We need it on a range of policies and also as importantly, in spirit.
America is a center-right polity and the modern exemplar of the Judeo-Christian heritage of spiritual capital.
Trump realizes this truth. He should say so, loud and clear.
Let me present two theses in this regard and demonstrate what they mean for this president’s leadership.
He should deploy them and take the high ground.
The first thesis concerns the logic of modernity.
What distinguishes modernity is the Technological Project, the transformation of nature for human betterment as opposed to fatalistic conformity.
The technological project requires inner-directed individuals and free market economies that maximize both competition and innovation.
Trump confesses this, too.
Say so loud and clear for the country to hear, not just his base.
Free market economies operate best with limited government (Montesquieu’s commercial republic and Madison’s Federalist #10).
Limited government can only be maintained under the rule of law.
The rule of law can only be sustained if there is a larger cultural context that celebrates responsible individual autonomy.
Finally, responsible individual autonomy presupposes a larger ontological claim about human freedom or free will that requires a theological argument.
Moreover, personal autonomy avoids self-destruction and adds a spiritual content to the technological project itself when the responsible use of freedom leads to helping to fulfill God’s plan by eliminating suffering and promoting freedom in and for others.
Recognizing, pursuing, and sustaining autonomy are the spiritual quests of modernity and the technological project, which is best, evidenced, in the on-going American experiment.
The ultimate rationale for the technological project is not material comfort or consumer satisfaction, but the production of the means of accomplishment.
To discover that our greatest sense of fulfillment comes from freely imposing order on ourselves in order to impose a creative order on the world is perhaps the closest way of coming to know purpose.
Three considerations lead us to maintain that responsible personal autonomy requires deep support.
First, personal autonomy presupposes free will.
This amounts to saying that there is no naturalistic (and scientific) explanation of the ultimate truths about who we are.
Second, we understand ourselves as historical beings, but history does not form a self-explanatory system.
Our interpretation of the whole human drama depends on an intimately personal decision concerning the part we mean to play in it.
In the end, this is a religious decision, not a scientific or scholarly one.
Trump needs to connect with the religious communities in America. Underscore pluralism and freedom of conscience—the pillars of America
Finally, sustaining our autonomy under trying circumstances requires stamina. Since naturalism and scientism fail, spirituality in some important sense emerges as the only discipline that can provide ultimate comprehension.
Trump can regain ground by calling on America’s spirit.
The second thesis is the documented history of how settlers, pioneers and immigrants to the United States brought precisely this larger view to America, nourished it, and sustained it.
Trump again needs to restate America’s journey with destiny.
The most important historical development in the last four hundred years has been the rise of the technological project (TP).
The TP, not the market, is the starting point for our American narrative, because, although there have always been markets, it is only since the 17th century that markets have come to play such a dominant role in our lives.
It is the presence of the TP that explains the centrality of those markets.
The TP is the control of nature for human benefit.
The TP radically changed the way people in the West viewed the world and their relationship to the world; and led to fundamental changes in the major institutions of the West (economic, political, legal, and social); which led to the expansion of the West and its domination of the non-Western world, and finally to the internationalization of Western institutions.
The following claims with regard to the TP can be made:
a. It is an irreversible historical fact [Protester’s are forced to use technology in order to mount a protest against it, especially cell phones, the internet, and computers].
b. Abandonment of the TP would have catastrophic consequences for humanity and threaten its very existence.
c. To the extent that the TP creates environmental and other kinds of problems we are now irrevocably committed to using future developments in the TP to address and hopefully solve those problems.
d. Those cultures which have most fully embraced the TP (including military technology) have come to dominate the world and to spread the TP. The spread has not been a matter of the powerful imposing on the weak; the weak have largely come to embrace the project on their own.
e. The thorny issues of globalization would not have developed outside of the context of the technological project.
This leads to the following tension and paradox which Trump should underscore: domestically the government is to maintain a low profile and fairly passive supporting role for commerce but in the international context the government is to promote actively the entire panoply of the Technological Project, Free Market Economies, Limited Government, and the Rule of Law.
To intervene in foreign affairs to bring about this result is incumbent upon free governments.
It is no use pretending that the implications could be otherwise. But Trump is not a neocon interventionist, so he needs to say how American power will be used and who will pay for it.
Our American President abides by and within the established heritage of America’s long established spiritual capital.
He cannot deny it, reject it, or pretend it away. It is our legacy.
The democratic ideal of ‘interventionist socialism’ we have toyed with over recent years, now front and center in the Democrat party, surely must come to an end, as it is totally at odds with the essence of America’s spiritual capital.
President Trump fully needs to articulate America’s spiritual capital in all the senses here described.
In my opinion, Trump is the leader we need to not only endorse but to pray for.
All of us, not just conservatives, need to rally behind him now.
He alone has the business acumen; he alone has the executive experience; he alone articulates all of the necessary ingredients here spelled out.
He understands the Technological Project, the free economy of markets, the rule of law and the limits to government.
He is making America greater and putting it first.
We desperately need a leader, one in America’s best spiritual tradition, to get us through the current malaise and economic chaos.
But make no mistake, he is under attack and so is America.
We should support our President and use the framework here laid out to inform that support for a stronger Union
In so doing we will also increase the legacy of America’s spiritual capital and renew its spirit.