Note to Senator Rubio: We Can’t Agree on the Common Good Without Common Ground

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By John Zmirak, The Stream, November 20, 2019

John Zmirak is a Senior Editor of The Stream, and author of Wilhelm Röpke: Swiss Localist, Global Economist (2000), among other books.

As I wrote last week, Senator Marco Rubio has raised some important questions about the social bedrock that makes a free society possible. Part of such a society is a free economy. Another part is strong families, and a vivid moral consensus. None, not one of our founders, not even Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin, thought the American experiment possible without all three of those things.

Even the Deist dilettantes who flitted among the vast bulk of Augustinian Christians knew a free republic couldn’t survive without religion. By which they meant Christian morals derived from natural law. That’s the law written on the human heart which anyone rational enough to believe in God can come to see makes sense — whether or not he has received the Grace to follow Jesus.

Can Our Government Today Do Much Good?

I offered some pushback to Rubio because he seems to think that the federal government, via economic policy, can offer meaningful help to promote the Common Good. In theory, in some situations, it could. For instance, in societies that shared a solid common ground. Whose courts acknowledged  some version of natural law — with the details and applications argued out in state legislatures and Congress. (Not imposed by five black-robed nihilists.)

Today, here in America? Zero chance. Zero. In fact, handing still more power to the government is likely to do more harm than good. If history holds true, the left will hijack the agencies deputized to promote our high-minded goals, and completely pervert them. You know the pro-family New Deal, which Catholic bishops helped write? Within 30 years the Democrats turned it into the amoral, ghetto-busting teenage fornication subsidies of the Great Society. Again, with the bishops’ support. ….