How Obama Has Eroded America's Domestic Tranquility

President Barack Obama in the Situation Room of the White House, April 5, 2013. Flickr/The White House

Black Lives Matter lost all moral authority on the streets of Dallas.

In the first presidential election since 1968, domestic tranquility is a burning issue. Domestic tranquility, that lofty term from civic classes and Saturday morning Schoolhouse Rock, weighs heavy on the minds of Americans who probably never considered it before. We have no choice after San Bernardino, Chattanooga, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Orlando, Brooklyn, Paris, Nice, Baltimore and Brussels all became a bloody blur of escalating violence.

But even in 1968, threats to domestic tranquility were not as severe and not as dangerous. That’s why “Make America Safe Again” was the central theme at Monday’s session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

What makes 2016 different is that the bloodshed is part of a barbaric struggle to unravel Western institutions and the rule of law. The seemingly random violence is the vanguard of two not unrelated ideologies. Both the radical Islamic attacks on domestic tranquility and the racialist attacks on the police aim to undermine the American constitutional order.

Don’t call them “lone-wolf attacks.” The term “lone wolf” insulates each new act of mayhem from a larger context and from ideology. The killers might act alone, but they are certainly not alone in their burning hatred for Western values and the rule of law.

Disassociating the killer from the overarching narratives and ideologies delays the moment when the West will fully understand what is happening.

Understanding the world the drafters of the Constitution wished to put behind them explains the importance of domestic tranquility and why it was part of the Constitution’s preamble. The founders sought to remake a world where one religious faction unleashed wanton slaughter on innocents of another religious faction, often with the imprimatur of law. English history was characterized by centuries of this bloodletting. The founders sought to foster an everyday existence governed by peace, predictability and benign authority preserving public order. That is the “domestic Tranquility” the Constitution sought to insure.

America has largely enjoyed domestic tranquility, where families could live in peace without wicked violence threatening in public places—until 2016. Police maintained order and were treated with respect. Shop owners needn’t have feared wanton burning and looting—until now.

What we are seeing in the flames of Baltimore and the bloody streets of Dallas and Baton Rouge is the normalization of chaos. Remember, chaos was the most common human experience for thousands of years. With rare and short exceptions, civilizations were always on edge, worried about the sacking of their town by foreign invaders or homegrown barbarism that came in so many different forms. When the rule of law and individual liberty were enshrined as cultural values, the chaos abated.

But the nature of man didn’t change. Domestic tranquility doesn’t happen by accident. Institutions cultivate and protect it. Those institutions are now under attack, and it will be a defining issue in the presidential election. Attacks on American institutions, and the failure of some to defend them, may explain the rise of Donald Trump.

Instead of domestic tranquility, America is experiencing chaos built on lies. We have fallen so far so fast that once credible figures give interviews noting that it is wrong to kill cops—“but….”

This is why the Black Lives Matter movement lost all moral authority on the streets of Dallas.

Ferguson provides the architecture of how this chaos was built on lies. It is an established fact that Michael Brown was shot on a Ferguson street by Officer Darren Wilson in a justifiable use of force. Brown charged Wilson and sought to grab his gun.

But you would never know it at the time. Street theater and threats accompanied a well-funded and coordinated campaign to elevate the issue of police shooting black men. Stores burned, and Attorney General Holder traveled to Ferguson on the vice president’s 757 and sought to elevate the conversation by reminding everyone, “I am a black man.” The Obama administration sent every possible signal as to which side of the dispute it was on, and the antipolice activists were emboldened.