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With all the talk focused on the U.S. Government shutdown, America’s political system once again finds itself in gridlock. Leaders of both political parties are at an impasse over the issue of healthcare, and the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

This issue shows the reality that we are divided in Washington, we are divided at home. This is not the first time, however, our country has faced crisis and division. The Founders of our country faced a great policy crisis, one related to debt.

According to the late, great historian J. Rufus Fears, “In 1786, a severe debt and mortgage crisis threatened to bring down the fragile structure of republican freedom in our young nation. The wise heads of Europe believed that the financial crisis of the new United States was proof that democracy could never work. The Founders of our country, men like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Robert Morris, responded to that financial crisis in such a way that they laid the foundation for the freedom we still cherish. The Founders did so because they learned from history.”

Can we do today as the Founders did? If we do not, we may be headed down the path of despotism. Fears said, “In 1786, when the mortgage crisis got severe in this country, men like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Robert Morris all realized that the situation could lead to a dictatorship.”

Fears said of the greatness of the Founders, “How did this infant republic produce a galaxy of statesmen unsurpassed in history and unequal to any power in Europe at the time? The older I get, and the more I study history, the more I wonder if these things just happened by chance or whether there was a greater hand guiding it. What separated them from men and woman of today is (1) they were all patriots; (2) they were people who understood the teachings of Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations; (3) Congress was willing to listen to experts like Robert Morris and Alexander Hamilton who were not theoretical economists, but practical men of business; and (4) they had honor and believed that repaying debt was a matter of honor.”

Whether a healthcare law or overcoming debt, these principles are at play today. What our leaders–what all citizens–need most today need is a sense of patriotism. I am unsure how the government shutdown and gridlock will end, but a long-term solution is needed, and a renewed patriotism will be key.

Finally, this would not be properly a Christian blog entry if I did not admit I do believe the Hand of the Almighty is guiding our nation, even as we spiral downward. Let’s pray that God would strengthen Christians to be who we are supposed to be. After all, patriotism and prosperity without God is no better condition than what we face now.