Joseph: Majority Votes Cannot Alter the Truths Our Country Was Founded On


There are some things that cannot be changed by simply contriving to reach a majority in either elections or opinion polls.

There are unassailable truths — moral principles — that will hold their value to the very end of human history, irrespective of waxing and waning populist opinion or vote counts.

Yet increasing publicity is being given to cunningly manipulative polling on moral subjects. The curiosity factor is understandable. It is always interesting (and also important for the purposes of correcting faulty moral education) to know just what erroneous positions are being popularized regarding the moral issues of the day.

Regrettably, many politicians with flaccid morals are overly interested in polls like these. Earnestly seeking popularity rather than truth and integrity, they rashly ditch the tried and true moral principles upon which the country was founded. Leaping into an abyss of moral confusion, they smile at the cameras and assure us that this is what the majority wants.

Recent polling on abortion — by Pew Research, Gallup and PRRI — attracted such comprehensive attention.

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The Gallup poll found that 55 percent of people now approve of abortion. Many politicians went on to argue nonsensically that it follows that the abortion of unborn children right up to birth must be morally right.

They forget the sad history of so many political misadventures in which so-called democratic majorities, having lost their moral bearings, have deteriorated quickly into mob rule. All too easily in the past have noisy, aggressive radicals torn down what is morally right and good and corrupted the rule of law to endorse the killing of the unwanted and all those likely to be troublesome.

Rejecting the Founders’ right to life and “no property in man” principles, they ignore completely what one of the Founders and first Supreme Court justices, James Wilson, had to say: “In the contemplation of law, life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb.” [Emphasis added.]

The integrity of the Constitution’s genuine rule of law has been breached and is now in the dubious process of being replaced by a fluid code of behavior continually being revamped by academics, the media, legislatures and judiciaries according to the dominant novelties of each new ideological craze.

Ditching reason to endorse “the law as will”?

Back when the sexual revolution was about to emerge, professor John Courtney Murray in “We Hold These Truths” regretfully uncovered what had come to prevail among academics:

“The American university had long since bade a quiet good-bye to the whole notion of an American consensus that there are truths that we hold in common, and a natural law that makes known to all of us the structure of the moral universe in such wise that all of us are bound by it in a common obedience.”

The natural law tradition embedded in the Constitution and inherited by U.S. citizens had been covertly amended: “The idea of law as reason had begun to cede to the idea of law as will.”

In the areas of personal and social responsibility, “the law as will” rejected the essential principles of natural law that the Founders proclaimed must be respected.

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These founding principles, Murray explained, are “antecedent to the state … inviolable as well by democratic majorities as by absolute monarchs.”

Some old advice — still good

We should have heeded Karol Wojtyła’s warning in a 1969 letter to Pope Paul VI that the moral law is founded on the objective nature of good and evil, not on assessments of approval or disapproval in human circles.

He warned that our consciences are not autonomous norms superior to the moral law: “It is, in fact, up to conscience to determine good and evil and to discern it according to the objective moral law.”

He explained, “Subjectivism and relativism are in contradiction with true morality … simply because these amount to the denial of objective moral good and evil and, consequently, of the specific function of conscience.”

The United States of America at its founding recognized the truth that there is an objective moral order embedded in our human nature. It is a universal and immutable order, infused in us by the Creator.

That founding truth cannot be canceled now by the state or by the manipulated opinions of a morally decadent majority under the sway of the ideological conditioning to which Americans are subjected today.

The dangers of embracing “woke-ism”

We have been tricked into settling for a dangerously immoral mess of conflicting ideologies and philosophical contortions.

Those ideologues who are seeking to reconstruct societies around the world to accommodate new “woke” values have managed to cast considerable doubt as to whether we share any longer a core group of moral values. We are being inveigled by new and radical ideologies to abandon reason and logical consistency, two very important structural principles of the natural law.

A deification of “choice” has emerged to distort true values. It is a foolish society that is unwilling to uphold basic morals and instead demands more choices. It is a society that has lost its capacity for rational thought and for the rigorous logic that dictates natural moral imperatives.

It is rational thought and rigorous logic, not hate speech or discrimination, that forces us to recognize that certain things men and women may want to do have unacceptable consequences, especially for others in their power and under their care.

It is reason that brings us to a recognition of the prescriptive natural laws that are particularly relevant to prospering and protecting every human life.

Necessary moral discipline and virtue 

James Kent, who was appointed chief justice of the New York Supreme Court in 1804, warned against the “corruption of the public mind.”

He explained the crucial role of moral discipline and the principles of virtue in maintaining good order in a cohesive society: “We stand equally in need, now as formerly, of all the moral discipline, and of those principles of virtue, which help to bind society together.”

The Founders understood that a free people must discipline themselves. John Adams insisted, “Public virtue cannot exist in a Nation without private Virtue, and public Virtue is the only Foundation of Republics.” Adams also warned us that “our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Sadly, we are seeing that inadequacy right now.

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