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Editor’s note: Listen to this column online.

To see the nation divided, watch the people who gather today at the Lincoln Memorial to hear Glenn Beck and the people who gather at Dunbar High School to hear the Rev. Al Sharpton.. Beck and his group want to restore the principles of the founders; Sharpton and his group want to transform America into a progressive utopia.

Beck’s demonstration, dubbed “Restoring Honor,” was planned months ago to celebrate the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. Sharpton’s coalition was outraged by the audacity of a white man – especially Glenn Beck – attempting to hijack King’s dream. They immediately sent out a call to black organizations to come to Washington to out-demonstrate Beck’s event with their own competing event they named “Reclaim the Dream.”

Beck has used his national television program to promote King’s idea that all people should be measured by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. Were Sharpton and his colleagues following King’s teachings, they would be attending Beck’s event, not trying to belittle it by scheduling dueling demonstrations. King worked to achieve a color-blind society; Sharpton and his followers are working to secure special status for blacks. King worked to remove the social bonds that enslaved black people; Sharpton and his colleagues are working to enslave black people to ever-more government handouts.

What will it take to restore common sense and rein in out-of-control government? Get Glenn Beck’s book inspired by Founding Father Thomas Paine

Skin color, however, is not what divides Americans. Americans are divided by different visions of how society should be organized. Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” demonstration seeks to restore the vision held by the founders of this great nation. Theirs was a vision of sovereign individuals voluntarily selecting representatives from among their neighbors to create a government to do only those chores enumerated in the Constitution they wrote.

Sharpton and his crowd see another vision. They see a government empowered to take whatever resources it wants from the people who have resources, to make sure that all people have at least a home, adequate food, a job with a livable wage, health care and an education.

The founders’ vision celebrates individual responsibility, hard work and successful accomplishment. Sharpton’s vision assumes that an individual’s success was gained unfairly by taking advantage of others. The founders’ vision expects people to be responsible for their own needs and to give freely of their resources to help those in need. Sharpton’s vision expects government to ensure that the earth’s resources are distributed equitably to everyone.

Sharpton’s vision, or what he and others like to call the “progressive” agenda, is actually a holdover from the philosophy of folks such as Thomas Hobbes, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Karl Marx. Hobbes believed that “The control of power must be lodged in a single person, and no individual can set their own private judgments of right and wrong in opposition to the sovereign’s commands.” This is the same philosophy Sharpton displays when he wants the control of power to be lodged in the federal government against which no private judgments of right or wrong may be lodged against the government’s command. This is why it is so terribly important for Sharpton’s Democratic Party to be in control of the government. When Democrats control government, the Hobbes-Rousseau-Marx philosophy always prevails. When Republicans control government, the Hobbes-Rousseau-Marx philosophy prevails only some of the time.

Glenn Beck is looking far beyond Democrats and Republicans, all the way back to the founders who constructed this nation on the principles of freedom they considered to be essential: 1) recognition that the right to life, liberty and property is a gift from the Creator, 2) that government is a creation of free people and is empowered only by the consent of the governed, and 3) government is best that governs least.

From these great unshakeable principles flow behaviors that respect, even honor the accomplishments of individuals, and refuse to allow government to steal their resources through progressive taxation to redistribute to others. Sharpton’s idea of “progressive” taxation to implement his “progressive” vision is nothing more than legalized theft; if taxation is necessary, it should be applied to all people at the same rate.

President Obama, king of the progressive agenda, uses this analogy for the November elections. He says that to go forward, put the shifter in “D.” By selecting “R,” we will go backward.

The nation selected “D” in 2008, and have watched the “D’s” accelerate toward a brick wall of economic and social disaster. The people who gather with Al Sharpton bury their head in the sand and say “step on it!”

The people who gather with Glenn Beck have been shouting warnings for more than a year. They say America must slam on the brakes, stop the lunacy the “D’s” are delivering, and shift to a different gear.

The nation is sharply divided. The upcoming elections provide an opportunity to reject the Hobbes-Rousseau-Marx-Sharpton-Obama vision of a society enslaved by an omnipotent government. It may be our last chance.

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