Washington DC - US Capitol building

America Needs a New Declaration of Equal Justice Under the Law

Original at The American Thinker

In prior times of war, crisis, suffering, and loss of life from causes outside the U.S., Americans of both parties would pull together and focus on what can be done to quickly help, alleviate, and solve the problem.  No longer.  The COVID-19 crisis provides us a window into our national social and spiritual health, and what we see from much of America’s Left as expressed in the media and Democrat Party reveals a degree and strain of moral impoverishment we haven’t seen before. 

The COVID-19 crisis in America will pass as all such virus epidemics do, but an overriding issue and question that will remain for the American future is: Do we have sufficient courage and determination to successfully deal with the internal threats and contradictions that jeopardize the future viability of the United States and its Constitution?

What has been allowed to grow in the American cultural and political petri dish over the last two generations is a mixture whose contagious influence is as harmful as it is riddled with absurdities.  A partial list would include:  an unequal two-tiered justice system; open borders; preferential treatment of illegal aliens over American citizens; the dominance of political correctness and its de facto censorship of free expression; fake news; rewriting history; the 1619 project; renaming Columbus Day; the abolition of traditions of every size and shape; destruction of American historical monuments; trampling the American flag and other symbols of democracy; the eradication of family values while celebrating and elevating relationships counterproductive to procreation — an imperative for any civilization that wants to survive; election fraud and dismantlement of the electoral process; an attempted coup that would have nullified the Constitution and the peoples’ sovereignty; a baseless and wasteful impeachment; the disgraceful character assassination of nominees to the Supreme Court; the pervasive infiltration of education with academics hostile to America; the adoption safe spaces and the prohibition of trigger words on college campuses; union control and influence on public school educational curricula whose net effect dumbs down students and often paints America as the great villain. 

Any one of these is no little thing.  But together, the collective influence of all these factors presents us with a reality that is disheartening and threatening.  How did this happen and what are patriotic Americans to do?

We find ourselves in this perilous and incendiary state in large part because we were asleep or preoccupied, while internal enemies of America were gnawing away at our institutions and public civility over the last two generations — following the playbook of Italian communist Antonio Gramsci, the father of the “long march through the institutions.” Gramsci called for a gradual radicalization of the knowledge industry and the cultural institutions — “the superstructure of our society” — so as to transform the values and morals of society. Gramsci believed that as society’s morals were softened and confused, greater division would ensue, leading to political and economic transformation. The changing orientation of the Democrat Party would seem to confirm the validity of Gramsci’s theories and suggests he was right.

But the story is not over.  

It’s time for a new approach to fighting back with a more powerful playbook — one that the Founders used at a time of overwhelming discouragement when odds of success were extremely low.  That same playbook was again used by Abraham Lincoln, a president who presided over a very divided nation and who was reviled by many, similar to today’s conditions.

Washington’s colonial army war efforts were disastrous for more than a year before the first version of the Declaration of Independence was issued on July 4, 1776 — signed by just John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress and its secretary Charles Thompson — to protect the identities of other 54 signatories against death warrants to be carried out by the British. It was then the only version in circulation for the next six months. 

But after Washington’s successful surprise attacks on Trenton and Princeton, the Declaration was edited, reprinted, and rereleased with all 56 signatories, vowing “a firm reliance on the Protection of divine Providence,” and “mutually pledg[ing] to each other our Lives our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” This new pledge, the “Declaration of 56” may not have resulted in tipping the scale of battle success for the Continental Army, but it changed the fortune of war by lining up the stars of Providence for victory at the final Battle of Yorktown four years later. 

Lincoln’s war efforts were largely unsuccessful in the first year and a half of the Civil War, and he struggled with the question of why, so far, the Almighty was permitting the bloodbath to continue with more favor being shown toward the South.  Through prayer, Lincoln had an epiphany of moral clarity.  He realized that it was not enough to win the war, put down secession and preserve the status quo of tolerance of slavery in the southern states, as he had stated in his First Inaugural address upon taking office.  He now realized the simple truth that if his objectives were aligned with God’s will and announced to all, that the Union would be blessed and prevail. And so it was that after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law on Jan. 1, 1863 that things on the ground began to change. In fact, so confident of favorable outcome from Divine intervention was Lincoln, that he had a certain peace regarding the outcome during the battle of Gettysburg from July 1-3, 1863, while his cabinet members implored him to take refuge for safety and flee the White House, believing that Lee would turn the Confederate Army on Washington after winning in Gettysburg. 

Whether we call it a Declaration or a Proclamation, a statement of moral clarity is needed today to reestablish the foundation and fortress from which to fight and prevail. The Declaration of Independence focused on liberty.  The Emancipation Proclamation focused on equality.  Such a time as this would be well-served by a Declaration of Equal Justice under Law — the very words etched in stone on the front façade of the Supreme Court. 

Our greatest advantage over the material secular progressive left is our connection with a higher power — a spiritual power.  Most of us take for granted and pay little heed to the words inscribed on all our currency — “In God we Trust.” A Declaration of Equal Justice under the Law would summon new help from the Divine and fundamentally change the future as it did in previous times of crisis.  We should even ask and implore that such a Declaration be invoked to take down America’s internal enemies: the lawbreakers and betrayers of the Constitution in high places.  A national realignment of equal justice under the law is the nation’s highest priority for it sets the tone and reestablishes the foundation for solving so many of our other problems and prevailing in what is good and right.

Scott S. Powell

Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Scott Powell has enjoyed a career split between theory and practice with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and rainmaker in several industries. He joins the Discovery Institute after having been a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution for six years and serving as a managing partner at a consulting firm, RemingtonRand. His research and writing has resulted in over 250 published articles on economics, business and regulation. Scott Powell graduated from the University of Chicago with honors (B.A. and M.A.) and received his Ph.D. in political and economic theory from Boston University in 1987, writing his dissertation on the determinants of entrepreneurial activity and economic growth.