Peter Kreeft writes in How to Win the Culture War (IVP 2002), “America’s founding fathers…repudiated an unfree state based primarily on “outer cops.” They explicitly said that the free democracy they were designing was designed only for a moral people. The foundation stones for a democracy are consciences” (p. 48). Kreeft explains that when a community has a conscience (“inner cops”) the need for “outer cops” is not as great. Conversely, when there is a lack of conscience within a community, the need for “outer cops” (more restrictions on freedom0 is needed to keep chaos at bay. A free democracy that loses its conscience is easily turned into a totalitarian state. Amazingly, that is what seems to be happening.
This struck me as I read it because I wonder why our so-called “democracy” isn’t working when at one time it did seem to work. And Kreeft helped me see why. This kind of government works well in a moral society. But when morality gets flushed down the toilet, when the community loses its conscience, its ability to determine right from wrong, or at least, its ability to call a thing wrong (which we seem to be experiencing), we leave the door open for less freedom. Maybe this is not a profound revelation, but it certainly caught my attention today.