'Resurgent' Constitutional government can save America

On Friday, as President Obama signed a $1 trillion omnibus spending bill into law, the Drudge Report seasonally greeted its readers with the headline "Happy Holidays: USA Debt Now $15,123,841,000,000."  The national debt had actually surpassed $15 trillion in November, a month during which the federal government spent $137.3 billion more than it collected.  For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2011, the deficit was $1.3 trillion.  More telling --and troubling-- is that spending in fiscal 2011 totaled $3.6 trillion, up over 90% in one decade.

These figures and other measures like them are important.  They are symptoms of the chronic case of statism that ails us.  They are key indicators of a federal government with an ever expanding reach and concentration of power.  The numbers are also mindboggling and their magnitude can be difficult to grasp.  They can consume or sidetrack us.  And by focusing too much on our economic woes we risk missing the bigger picture.

That is a major theme of a recommended book, Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservatism Can Save America.  According to the authors Ken Blackwell and Ken Klukowski, the "big picture" is the "interdependent nature of the American body politic and the precepts that are absolutely essential to sustaining limited government over a multigenerational timespan." As important as economics are two other key aspects of conservatism: social/cultural and national security.  Failure in any one of these aspects, the authors contend, and the conservative ship will sink, no matter how pragmatic some may see themselves in throwing social or national security issues overboard.

To call oneself conservative and not support -- or worse, work to undermine -- social issues of "faith, life, and marriage" is a misnomer, argue the authors.  To do so is to fail to understand or adequately appreciate the interconnectedness of the key pillars of a free, civil society.  Social/cultural problems cause or exacerbate economic ones. According to the authors,

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.

The importance of and the threats to the "family unit" -- the "basic human unit of government" or what Michele Bachmann refers to as "the first unit of government" -- is convincingly developed and documented in this book.  It is not a coincidence that America is strapped with record debt and deficits at the same time when the percentage of married adults is at a record low and the proportion of all U.S. births to unmarried women is 40.8% (72.5% among blacks, 53.3% among Hispanics).  More from the book:

There is one inescapable truth: Wherever family fails, growth in government to fill the void is unstoppable....As the Founders of this country understood all too well, self-government endures only when people govern themselves in an honorable and moral fashion, with strong families to raise the next generation with all the values necessary to perpetuate self-government.

You cannot stop a decades-long march toward a socialist and authoritarian state if the family breaks down. Those who say we need to maintain a laser focus on government spending miss the forest for the trees, or refuse to accept what the Founders embraced. If we balance the budget and rein in government but do not rebuild and protect families, then the popular will for government intervention will irresistibly grow over time. Whenever that happens, massive government programs displace families and [religious institutions], and funding for these intrusive nanny-state programs inevitably follows."

Striking an optimistic chord, the U.S. Constitution can save us from our predicament, say the authors, if we seize the momentum of the renewed -- and overdue -- interest in it, as evidenced by the tea party movement and other indicia.  Constitutional conservatism can and must prevail in the current clash of worldviews.   A roadmap or blueprint along the lines laid out in Resurgent is one that the ultimate GOP nominee would be well-served to follow to that end.




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