ACRU

Recovery and Resurgence Starts with the Family

This excerpt by ACRU Senior Legal Analyst Ken Klukowski and ACRU Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell was published June 13, 2011 on The Washington Examiner website.

First of a series of three excerpts from “Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservatism Can Save America,” published by Threshold Editions of Simon & Schuster.

There are many trying to define the current political crisis as entirely about the cost of government and size of government. They fail to understand the big picture of the interdependent nature of the American body politic and the precepts that are absolutely essential to sustaining limited government over a multigenerational time span.

America cannot recover unless we overcome this profoundly wrongheaded idea, which is based on a modern liberal delusion regarding human nature.

If we don’t overcome the threats to our culture and national security, they will destroy American civilization as it has existed since the founding. If we rein in spending, overhaul our entitlement systems and get government out of the areas of the economy where interference stifles growth and productivity, but do not address these cultural and security issues, then the America we know will cease to exist, just as surely as it would from an economic collapse.

Not only that, but — and we want to emphasize this point as absolutely critical — if we succeed on the economic issues, but fail either on security or on social issues, the economic issues will end up failing apart again anyway in later years.

Should that happen, after perhaps a decade of paying the price to turn around the economy, a price that will be a real hardship for us, then within 30 years we’ll be back in exactly the same place.

Principled leadership is about permanently solving these problems, not kicking them down the road for a quarter century, condemning our children to confront the road.

Failure to grasp that we cannot solve our economic problems without solving our cultural problems stems from failing to consider the Founders’ concept of what elements are essential for enlightened self-government.

The reality is that when families break down, government steps in with bigger programs and bigger spending. Government grows when families fail.

True leadership is about more than 10 years. It’s about looking 30, 50 and 100 years down the road and laying a foundation for long-term prosperity and happiness.

If we fail to recapture constitutional conservatism in any of its three aspects — economic, social or national security — then we will lose all three in the long term.

Too many political leaders — within the leadership of the Republican Party and even those who call themselves “conservative leaders” but who don’t support the social issues — fail to comprehend the self-defeating agenda they are pursuing. In doing so, they also reject the Framers’ concept of limited government.

People require government. They either govern themselves, or someone else will govern them. The family unit is the basic unit of government. Stable traditional families constrain personal behavior and focus economic energies to generate productive outcomes.

There is one inescapable truth: Wherever family fails, growth of government to fill the void is unstoppable. The Republican Party — and America — cannot be resurgent without understanding this point.

Conservatism is built upon this truth: Self-government endures only when people govern themselves.