Recent events of national importance prompt us to reflect on postmodern politics. While postmodern thinking has been around for a number of years, we have now in the White House America’s first postmodern president.
America was founded by people deeply engrained in the modern mindset. Individualism, with both the protection and encouragement of the individual, is at the heart of the American political system. Our country was established upon “self-evident” truths, an acknowledgement of absolutes. Because so many of our founders were Christian (and I’ll use the term rather broadly here—some were faithful to their denomination, but may not have been true believers) and others were deists who believed that Christianity was the best form of religion, we find numerous Scripture references and allusions in the founding documents and in the writings of our early patriots.
America was founded as a democratic republic. It was democratic in that each citizen (individualism) received a vote. It was a republic (absolutism) in that the democratic vote could not override established laws. The result was our system of checks and balances, which provided the citizenry with protection from any one element of government going amuck. This system worked pretty well into the mid 20th century. Now we wonder what’s gone wrong.
Postmodern politics is based on two ideas: that there are no absolutes and that reality is socially constructed. Postmoderns believe that individuals are not free but are directed by their society or culture. As America becomes more of a collectivist society, claims of the individual are lost. As America becomes more pluralistic, reliance on an absolute standard, such as the Constitution or established law, is abandoned. A postmodern society is not subject to moral law; rather, it makes moral law. So we now are seeing that there is no longer a single legislative body. Activist judges make laws without the hindrance of legislators, overriding the Constitutional restrictions against such activity. Therefore, reformers now routinely skip the legislative process and take their issues directly to the courts. Likewise, the White House makes laws of their own via executive orders, chooses which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore, and rewrites laws (Congressional laws rarely have specific rules or instructions on how to carry out the law, so the making of the rules can radically change the impact or design of the actual law) to make them more palatable to their worldview. This is a violation of the Constitution, but in a postmodern world the Constitution is an evolving document meaning whatever the reader wants it to mean. Read more about Postmodernism 6 - Politics