Tectonic Plates


Plate tectonics is the geologic theory that the earth’s crust—the lithosphere that is about 60 miles thick and sits on a thin mantle over the earth’s core, is constantly moving.

I have a theory of political tectonics that describes how various political theories and ideas sit over a core of values that are held in common by a group of people who choose to exist together so long as those values are allowed to define their existence. When cracks in those values occur huge shifts—political tectonic shifts can occur that are analogous to the political lithosphere shifting over the theological and political mantle.

We have huge political tectonic plates moving in our country today in dispirit directions and these shifts will have huge ramifications in the way our country will look in the future. These tectonic plates are generational in the sense that the experiences that the various age groups have and are experiencing life are very different. It has always been this way.

The “greatest generation” that lived through a great depression and the “dust bowl” and totalitarianism in all its forms including fascism and communism, have as a group very conservative political ideas and have in my experience a very deep faith in God.

As the tectonic plates shift the morality and the political philosophy of subsequent generations change because their life experiences and educational exposure to ideas that have previously defined our morality and decency have changed. In fact, we are told by today’s progressives that we have no right to “judge” an action or define a morality. We are told that there can be many different moralities because there are many different kinds of people. Are there many different gravities or many different rules of thermodynamics because there are many different people?

My father in law was the youngest of 12 children whose mother died giving him life. His family in Kansas in the 1930s could not afford to feed all 12 children so several of the youngest were sent to a Catholic Orphanage and his life was molded by the memory of that experience and the lessons and witness of the Catholic Sisters. My father faced similar challenges growing up in the dust bowl in Minot North Dakota. His only way out was an Appointment to the Naval Academy, otherwise, a college education was only a dream.

It is my opinion that the struggle experienced by so many of that generation and their faith in God was what allowed them to survive those struggles, and what provided them with the spirit and will to storm the beaches of Normandy, and Guadalcanal and plant the flag on Mt. Suribachi. “The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win” Robert Montgomery Knight “The greatest weapon in our country’s arsenal is the will and morality of the American soldier sailor and airmen. Our adversaries know this. And they know that we know this.” Ronald Regan

What does the “greatest generation” think when they hear someone like AOC say that “global warming is this generation’s Normandy”? I cannot think of any response that could appropriately refute and reject that statement, without at the same time initiating an inappropriate discussion of its merits. It does not deserve a response.

I thought about this as I watched a group of young 18-year-old students—a group sponsored by a civics club, march into Ruth Chris’ steakhouse on the evening of June 6th—the anniversary of the Normandy invasion. Such a place neither my father in law or father could even imagine and between the appetizer and the main course I had to wonder if any of them even understood who actually paid the price for the dinner and the lives that today they are allowed to enjoy.

These are the great-grandchildren of the greatest generation and several recent polls have demonstrated that as a group they are willing to entertain and accept concepts of progressive socialism.

I must say that I am encouraged by finding more and more of this group beginning to understand the argument for “American Exceptionalism”. Pete Cenarrusa, Idaho’s former Secretary of State, was only an acquaintance of mine, but I had the opportunity to share dinner and many conversations with him. He was a veteran and a patriot who often times expressed his love and belief in political conservative philosophy and we had a conversation one time about Barry Goldwater’s Republican Convention Speech quoting the line that “extremism in pursuit of liberty is no vice”. He was extremely proud of his Basque Heritage but was equally proud and grateful that he was an American citizen.

Today many 4th and 5th generation Basques have proudly risen to high levels of influence in our community. What confounds me is why they seem with each generation to embrace political philosophies that are the antithesis of what their fathers and grandfathers believed. Think of many of our local politicians who have embraced a political philosophy supporting programs that transfer wealth from working families—farmers and small businessmen, and various forms of “crony capitalism” that allow for large conglomerates to confiscate private property under the guise of eminent domain with subsidies from local and federal governments thus socializing the economic risk while capitalizing the economic gain.

Or think of the amount of outside money coming into our State supporting candidates and referendums, marginalizing the ability of Idaho citizens to influence their own lives using the legislative process. Is this outside money financing local politicians? What would Mr. Cenarrusa think of all this?

The fathers and grandfathers only asked for the opportunity to work. They didn’t ask for free housing or food or subsidized medical insurance. As families and communities, they suffered and sacrificed and worked so that future generations could thrive and succeed and subsequently enjoy the fruits of their own labor in ways they could only imagine.

The story I have told is not just true about the Basques in our Community but is what has happened all across our country involving all groups of citizens.

The poet tells us:

“At the devil’s booth are all things sold,
Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold;
For a cap and bells our lives we pay,
Bubbles we buy with a whole soul’s tasking,
‘Tis heaven alone that is given away,
‘Tis only God may be had for the asking.”

James Russel Lowell, “The Vision of Sir Launfal”

The political tectonic plates always move across the generations. Embracing a common faith allows us to have political discussions based on our individual understanding of the philosophies that are based on that faith. Like gravity and the rules of thermodynamics the rules of life are constant and should always be respected.