The trend towards libertarianism reflects a growing disaffection with values in our society; specifically, the fact that the older generation, while professing values conducive to ordered society, failed to implement those values in a way that prevented the defining crises of our age: endless war in the Middle East without clear objectives, the banking crisis, and crony corruption in government. In other words, we didn’t practice what we preached, and today’s young people no longer see the marriage of values to civic institutions as a viable solution to what ails the world. They’d like to strip values out of the civic square altogether, and they’d also like to drastically roll back the reach of government. The younger generation does not believe that government can ever be good, so a government populated by those who profess values during election season only to abandon values while governing is useless. They have ample precedent for their beliefs.
Premature cynicism among young voters is the price of our past. Those voters are increasingly unmoored from a society that offers them dependency in the place of opportunity for independence. They’re despondent about their job prospects out of college, and cognizant of the fact that government offers them little in the way of an answer beyond graduate school, student loan debt, and their parents’ insurance until the age of 26. If government cannot facilitate opportunity, then government has no reason for being in the minds of this generation. If government obstructs opportunity, then government should be abolished.
A government populated by men who want to legislate morality won’t work. Today’s voter is increasingly savvy to the problem of legislating morality: true morality begins with a change of heart, and no government can legislate that change through a statute. Any politician who posits the same empty platitudes about morality, values, and the role of government in promoting either will find himself confronted by cynical voters whose experience with government has cost them their faith. Increasingly, voters are aware that values take root in the heart, and the catalyst for a changed heart is not a government. It is a God.
The values deficit, as South Carolina candidate Richard Cash terms it, is at the root of every other deficit this country faces. No one with traditional values operates to foist “shitty deals” on their partners in business, as Goldman Sachs once did. No one with values operates to lend money to those who cannot repay; conversely, no one with values borrows beyond their ability to repay. An elected leader or appointed bureaucrat with values has too much of a conscience to operate in a fiscally reckless manner with the nation’s finances. They are their brother’s keeper, and the steward of America’s legacy for future generations.
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