Crisis of character. Increasing irresponsibility is at the root of our national decline

Crises, crises everywhere, as far as the eye can see. There’s a border crisis, a fentanyl crisis and a crime crisis. Massive deficit spending is leading to a fiscal crisis. President Biden’s 39% approval rating as he seeks a second term would suggest a leadership crisis.

But at the root of it all is a crisis of character. Character is one of those old-fashioned words you don’t hear much anymore, like honor and decency, both of which go into the making of character. Other aspects include honesty, diligence and, most of all, a sense of personal responsibility, which is tied to the belief that we control our destiny and should behave accordingly.

Starting with the race riots in the 1960s, the left spent the next six decades attacking the idea that we are autonomous individuals who are responsible for our behavior.

Nothing was our fault. It was all socioeconomic conditions. As the Officer Krupke song in “West Side Story” goes, “I’m depraved on account [of] I’m deprived.”

If you tell people they’re not responsible, that’s the way they act — irresponsibly.

Retailers report theft of merchandise was up 70% in 2022. Shoplifting and looting cost $69 billion last year. In urban areas, some stores have taken to keeping everything in locked cases.

On Saturday nights in April, downtown Chicago resembled Sudan.

Juvenile gangs assaulted motorists, set cars on fire and looted. Last weekend, more than 60 police vehicles converged on Millennium Park to try to forestall a renewal of the chaos.

Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson, who blames the savagery on lack of opportunity, pledges to “invest in young people” — who, of course, are depraved on account of being deprived.

There are more than 69,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County alone. Most would rather live on the street, sleeping in filth and shooting up, than seek shelter. The garbage, disease, vermin and discarded needles they generate, not to mention the urban eyesore? Not their problem.

Planned Parenthood alone performed 374,155 abortions in 2022, for which it received more than $670 million from taxpayers. Feminists say it’s their bodies but refuse to take responsibility for the natural consequences of doing what comes naturally.

No one is responsible for anything anymore. Ask administration spokesmen about the record number of illegal border crossings — more than 4 million so far on the president’s watch, and they’ll tell you our immigration system has been broken for decades.

Mr. Biden added $3.84 trillion to the national debt in his first two years in office. But don’t blame him. The budget, too, has been broken for decades.

Perhaps the most glaring example of the absence of character is the first family, epitomized by deadbeat dad Hunter and the drug-fueled orgies recorded on his laptop. Rep. James Comer says as many as a dozen members of the Biden clan were paid by foreign entities for services to be rendered. The money trail leads to the Oval Office. The character crisis has been long in the making. The Greatest Generation was all about taking responsibility. From 1941 to 1945, it took on the job of saving humanity from Nazism and Japanese imperialism. They came home and took responsibility for rebuilding the economy and halting the advance of communism internationally. From there, it was all downhill. My generation, the baby boomers, threw an extended hissy fit because it didn’t inherit a perfect world. Most have since come down to earth. With each successive generation — Generation X, millennials, Generation Z — the sense of entitlement grows, and the sense of responsibility shrinks until today, we have a generation that yawns as we slide toward the abyss while it scans its favorite dating app.

Character is made up of equal parts of honesty, integrity, diligence and duty. Mostly, you get it from your family. Today, fewer and fewer families are intact. Those who are turning our cities into Dante’s “Inferno” grew up without fathers in the home.

Still, culture plays a crucial role, and ours has unleashed passions that should be suppressed.

The wise man in the White House 100 years ago brought the matter into focus.

In a speech to the Holy Name Society in September 1924, Calvin Coolidge, the quintessential Yankee, observed: “The worst evil that could be inflicted upon the youth of the land would be to leave them without restraint and completely at the mercy of our uncontrolled inclinations.”

He was talking about character and where its absence leads.