The Fruits of Labor
I was born in 1989, in the coastal town of Pascagoula, MS. At the time of my birth, my mother was a stay at home wife caring for my older brother. My father worked two jobs – one at Ingalls Shipyard and another for the late Pete Avara. When I watch those old home videos my mother made, I can see the weariness in my father’s eyes as he has just awoken to head to that second job. But, in those same blue eyes, I can see the pride of work, his small modest home, and a well fed pregnant wife and eight-year old son.
My father never asked another man to give him anything in exchange for nothing. He never asked the government to take from others and give him their money in exchange for housing and food for his family. No, he worked long hours, stressed his body and strength, and prayed to his Creator for that career that he wanted to pursue. That man waited ten years before that prayer was realized, yet in all that time, he upheld the dignity and honor of a free man’s work.
My father’s story, from a seafood business owner to shipyard laborer, shipyard laborer to employee of a major oil company, is a story of perseverance, a story of physical work, long nights, short on sleep, and frugal money management. But that was the story for many in the Kihyet lineage – a story of two Khayat brothers immigrating to New York from a province in Syria, (now Lebanon,) in 1904 to escape a depression that gripped most of the world.
They sought a life where they were free to choose their destiny, and the United States Constitution guaranteed that freedom, that freedom of personal choice. As I reflect now, I can not help but wonder if Assad Khayat could foresee that one of his children would become a Millsaps graduate, a staff member at Ole Miss, bank executive, President of Jackson County Board of Supervisors, and twice U.S. congressional candidate from South Mississippi. Could he envision that his grandchildren would play in the National Football League, become a lawyer and Chancellor at the state’s Flagship University, or become an NFL coach? Could he envision that his nephews would be successful business owners?
I do not know the answers to these questions, but I will assume that these immigrants were men of vision, men of dreams, who thought the future bright and immeasurable because their new country was a land of immense opportunity. This story is not theirs alone, for thousands of immigrants have stories such as this. Even more importantly, millions of post colonial natives forged this country’s freedom and prosperity for their own posterity. They did this by adhering to a precious document called the Constitution that was based on the principles of limited government and ideals of classical liberalism.
A Millennial Perspective on Conservatism and Liberty in this Election
By cultural definition, I would be classified as a millennial. Negative social traits typically associated with millennials are: entitled generation, socially liberal, narcissistic (just take a look on social media), and the “me generation.” On a positive note, millennials can be great multi-taskers, open-minded to new ideas, and self-expressive. In honesty, I would probably assume that the majority of my generation falls somewhere in between these traits.
Through studying, reading, and interacting over the last year and a half, I have come across an overlooked sect of the millennial segment: the libertarian and conservative millennials. This sect seeks truth in the world, questions everything, and is equipped with all the tools to find that truth. A majority of these people will be voting for Gary Johnson (don’t include me in this), for they see Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for who they really are.
We look at Trump’s false perversions of conservatism, his lack of integrity and morals, his rails and rants about the free market and free trade, his narcissistic personality, and we easily see through all of it. We ask, “How will a Trump administration advance the principles of liberty, self accountability and responsibility, prosperity through peace, and release the free market from these burdensome restraints? How can this administration bring sovereignty back to the states and their citizens? Will I have more choice and freedom for the rearing and education of my children? How will my taxes be lowered?”
All I see when I look at the Donald Trump ticket is a continuation of a growing federal government, detrimental trade policies, vulgarity, hatred, and a self-proclaimed unrepentant heart.
On the other hand, we have Hillary Clinton. How a Barry Goldwater girl could turn into a George Orwell Animal Farm communist is beyond me. She is a prime example of the dark powers that progressivism holds sway over in our institutions of higher learning. Evil deeds have followed her since her college days. Enough said.
From my perspective, Gary Johnson is not a true libertarian with his past views on carbon taxes, abortion “rights,” government intrusion of private business, and seemingly general fear of people of faith. Even with those disagreements, I can still sympathize with those in my generation that will vote for him. If we were to measure a presidential administration on who will kick the can of liberty further on down the road to the finish line, I would probably have to say that Johnson has the strongest leg out of the three major parties.
A Perspective on Faith
After November 8, I will hold no ill will toward that self-introspecting voter who truly believes that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is the best man or woman in this nation to represent us. This past year has torn this country asunder in disdain for one another. Vileness, vulgarity, and known lies are spread on social media and in conversation about one candidate or the other. Men who I once respected due to truth have left themselves with no credibility.
I have witnessed nationally recognized Christian leaders, the same men and cultural warriors who once railed against Bill Clinton and his sexual perversions, embrace and put their faith into a man who has exhibited these same traits and revels in those decisions. Men who once stood upon the foundation of conviction, principles, and values have suddenly caved in and fell about due to a fear of the unknown. What they haven’t realized, is that what they embrace is equally unknown, and poison comes in more than one form.
Men and women of Faith can not fear either a Clinton or Trump presidency. The only entity we must fear, and with reverence, is the Creator. He has granted the people of this nation with the opportunity to make choices in selecting their leaders. I believe the majority of us voters take this duty with upmost seriousness and careful consideration, but sometimes we may allow emotion to interfere with wise judgment and biblical instruction. We must remember that the “heart is deceitful.”
I have marked my choices for holders of public office by absentee ballot, and I am at peace without regrets. My Spirit is at peace in this matter. If someone’s Spirit is at peace in the matter by voting for a Trump administration, who am I to question them? I only know that I could not in good conscience.
What we have to focus on in the coming days, weeks, and years, is restoring our Faith. Restoration of Faith will make formidable the conviction of Principle, Values, Morality, and Character. The conviction of these then aids with the supernatural transformation of society and culture.
In late summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to many liberty-minded public servants speak at a gathering. While at the podium, perhaps Mississippi’s greatest modern day Statesman said, and I paraphrase, “..the longer I serve the people of Mississippi, I become more liberty minded each and every year.”
As Mississippians and Americans, this is what we should be requiring of our public servants. I want to conclude this article with excerpts from a speech that I read two weeks ago. U.S. Sen. John C. Calhoun’s 1848 speech to the senate on Mexico hauntingly parallels the problems America faces today. Keep Faith Mississippi…
“We have heard much of the reputation which our country has acquired by this war. I acknowledge it to the full amount, as far as the military is concerned. The army has done its duty nobly, and conferred high honours on the country, for which I sincerely thank them; but I apprehend that the reputation acquired does not go beyond this—and that, in other respects, we have lost rather than acquiring reputation by the war. It would seem certain, from all publications abroad, that the Government itself has not gained reputation in the eyes of the world for justice, moderation, or wisdom . . . . and in this view it appears that we have lost abroad, as much in civil and political reputation as we have acquired for our skill and valour in arms. . .
… it should be such as would deprive Mexico in the smallest possible degree of her resources and her strength; for, in aiming to do justice to ourselves in establishing the line, we ought, in my opinion, to inflict the least possible amount of injury on Mexico. I hold, indeed, that we ought to be just and liberal to her. Not only because size is our neighbour; not only because she is a sister republic; not only because she is emulous now, in the midst of all her difficulties, and has ever been, to imitate our example by establishing a federal republic; not only because she is one of the two great powers on this continent of all the States that have grown out of the provinces formerly belonging to Spain and Portugal—though these are high considerations, which every American ought to feel, and which every generous and sympathetic heart would feel, yet there are others which refer more immediately to ourselves. The course of policy which we ought to pursue in regard to Mexico is one of the greatest problems in our foreign relations. Our true policy, in my opinion, is, not to weaken or humble her; on the contrary, it is our interest to see her strong, and respectable, and capable of sustaining all the relations that ought to exist between independent nations. I hold that there is a mysterious connection between the fate of this country and that of Mexico; so much so, that her independence and capability of sustaining herself are almost as essential to our prosperity, and the maintenance of our institutions, as they are to hers. Mexico is to us the forbidden fruit; the penalty of eating it would be to subject our institutions to political death . . . . When I said that there was a mysterious connection between the fate of our country and that of Mexico, I had reference to the great fact that we stood in such relation to here that we could make no disposition of Mexico, as a subject or conquered nation, that would not prove disastrous to us. . . . you have looked into history, and are too well acquainted with the fatal effects which large provincial possessions have ever had on the institutions of free states—to need any proof to satisfy you how hostile it would be to the institutions of this country, to hold Mexico as a subject province. There is not an example on record of any free state holding a province of the same extent and population, without disastrous consequences.
But before leaving this part of the subject, I must enter my solemn protest, as one of the representatives of a State of this Union, against pledging protection to any government established in Mexico under our countenance or encouragement. It would inevitably be overthrown as soon as our forces are withdrawn; and we would be compelled, in fulfilment of plighted faith, implied or expressed, to return and reinstate such Government in power, to be again overturned and again reinstated, until we should be compelled to take the government into our own hands, just as the English have been compelled to do again and again in Hindostan, under similar circumstances, until it has led to its entire conquest. . . . I must say I am at a loss to see how a free and independent republic can be established in Mexico under the protection and authority of its conquerors. I can readily understand how an aristocracy or a despotic government might be, but how a free republican government can be so established, under such circumstances, is to me incomprehensible. I had always supposed that such a government must be the spontaneous wish of the people; that it must emanate from the hearts of the people, and be supported by their devotion to it, without support from abroad. But it seems that these are antiquated notions—obsolete ideas—and that free popular governments may be made under the authority and protection of a conqueror.
We make a great mistake in supposing all people are capable of self-government. Acting under that impression, many are anxious to force free governments on all the peoples of this continent, and over the world, if they had the power. It has been lately urged in a very respectable quarter, that it is the mission of our country to spread civil and religious liberty over all the globe, and especially over this continent—even by force, if necessary. It is a sad delusion. None but a people advanced to a high state of moral and intellectual excellence are capable, in a civilised condition, of forming and maintaining free governments; and among those who are so advanced, very few indeed have had the good fortune to form constitutions capable of endurance. . . . It is harder to preserve than obtain liberty. After years of prosperity, the tenure by which it is held is too often forgotten; and, I fear, Senators, that such is the case with us. . . . . I have often been struck with the fact, that in the discussions of the great questions in which we are now engaged, relating to the origin and conduct of this war, the effect on free institutions and the liberty of the people have scarce been alluded to, although their bearing in that respect is so direct and disastrous . . . . But now, other topics occupy the attention of Congress and of the country—military glory, extension of the empire, and aggrandizement of the country. . . . We have had so many years of prosperity—passed through so many difficulties and dangers without the loss of liberty—that we begin to think we hold it by right divine from heaven itself. Under this impression, without thinking or reflecting, we plunge into war, contract heavy debts, increase vastly the patronage of the Executive, and indulge in every species of extravagance, without thinking that we expose our liberty to hazard. It is a great and fatal mistake. The day of retribution will come; and when it does, awful will be the reckoning, and heavy the responsibility somewhere.”