Eric Metaxas is one of my favorite authors, a modern voice who is speaking more boldly and more articulately than most. He is adamant that Americans have enjoyed liberty for so long that we no longer appreciate what liberty is. For Metaxas, this battle is personal. Americans aren’t just losing liberties; they are ceding the public square to a nemesis that menaced Metaxas’ own family: communism. Eric’s father is Greek, and his mother is German; both grew up in Europe during World War II and under the constant threat—or reality—of the godless, heartless communism that followed.
“My parents…raised me to know that communism is evil, that American freedom is glorious and wonderful and a treasure,” Metaxas told me recently.
Metaxas’ mother saw her beloved Germany come under Russian occupation and transform into the ugly experiment that was East Germany.
“[She] experienced the horror of communism in East Germany,” he said. “She saw the unbelievable propaganda of the communists and how they push people around. It sickened her to the point that she escaped Germany.”
His father, further south in Europe, saw the communists attempt to take over Greece immediately following World War II.
“He taught me to hate communism,” Metaxas recalled. “I grew up with an understanding of how wicked communism is and how bad things can get.”
But while he was growing up here in the United States, he noticed his friends whose parents grew up in America didn’t share this same passion for freedom. Rather, they seemed to shrug and take liberty for granted. By contrast, as a young man, Metaxas traveled to East Germany with his mother and saw the border guards, the dogs, and the barbed wire that defined the edge of the then-Soviet empire. He remembers thinking, “Wow, everything I’ve heard is true. This is the world’s biggest prison. They’re trying to keep the people in.”
That background fuels Metaxas’ anti-communism ardor today. One of his main concerns is how the Democratic Party has embraced communist ideology and driven all naysayers into the political wilderness. He talked to me about how the Democratic Party of yesteryear—of John Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and even Walter Mondale—no longer exists but has been taken over by Marxists.
“The Democratic Party has gone leftward over the decades, and it is unrecognizable from the party of John F. Kennedy,” Metaxas told me. “Look to the nineties. Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. He understood that the government has no right to infringe on the religious liberties of Americans, that the government can have no part in that. Well, suddenly the party of Bill Clinton has become the party that says, ‘We don’t care about religious liberty. Religious liberty is just a dog whistle for white supremacy.’”
Voters, Christians especially, “have to discern the times,” he continued. “We are living in a time where if you vote for a Democrat, you are not getting Jimmy Carter; you’re not getting Bill Clinton. You are getting people who are completely sold out to the darkest forces in our political life, forces that are economically disastrous. But that’s the least of it. …They are culturally hostile to the foundations of most Americans.”1
It is useful to remember that the thirteen original colonies were concerned about ratifying the U.S. Constitution unless it was amended with what they called a Bill of Rights. The Preamble to the Bill of Rights expressed the open suspicion of centralized government power that existed among many of the states. Here it is in its entirety:
“The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”
In modern language, this means the states at that time simply would not hand over power to a federal government unless that power was explicitly limited in very specific areas. The areas they felt needed utmost protection were expressed in the first two amendments, which read in their entirety:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
In the last two amendments of the Bill of Rights, Congress again, with as much clarity as possible, removed power from the federal branches of government and reserved it for “the people” and the state governments.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Yet the leftists currently in charge of large sections of the U.S. government are completely out of step with average Americans who fundamentally accept the U.S. Constitution, its Amendments, and the Founding Fathers’ vision of our country, Metaxas said. “That has led to the cancel culture, and if we don’t stand up to it extremely strongly,” he said, “we deserve what we get…and America will cease to exist.”