Conservatives are conservatives because they want to conserve cultural, social, and political things. The last thing they want to hear, when their movement is at a low point, is someone suggesting a new idea, particularly if the idea is perceived as moderating conservatism. The typical response is, “We don’t need something new, we must stick to the rock solid core principles of conservatism.”
They should heed the words of Walt Whitman who, after America was founded, wrote, “The architects of These States laid their foundations, and passed to further spheres. What they laid is a work done; as much more remains. Now are needed other architects, whose duty is not less difficult, but perhaps more difficult…..America is not finished, perhaps never will be; now America is a divine true sketch.”
Conservatives in America don’t need a new idea; they need a new architect to render a new plan for America and usher in a new American era based on conservative principles cast in new light. This light will reveal the next steps in the long historical march to freedom that America has been privileged to be a part.
The new plan must be enlightened and built on a solid intellectual foundation of natural law and the institutions of an old, old order long ago forgotten by public policy makers. Faith, family and industry are the pillars of that old order. The government, the fourth institution comprising the old order, keeps the peace as citizens pursue their happiness. These institutions form the foundation of any civil society, and are the conduits through which happiness is pursued.
Arguably the weakest and most vulnerable of these institutions in America today is the family. Amid a national debate of family values preoccupied with adult relationships is a cultural pathology that if left unaddressed will destroy our culture and bring down the economic prowess of this great nation. The fatherless child is the symptom of a disease that squanders human capital and has profound social impacts.
Contrary to the common notion that children are “resilient” during and after family breakdown, statistics show fatherless children are two to three times more likely to be victims of child and sexual abuses, do drugs, experience educational, health, emotional and behavior problems, become teen parents and engage in criminal behavior. The Fatherless Generation website (fatherlessgeneration.wordpress.com) provides information showing that the news just gets worse.
A conservative will argue that the beauty of America is the opportunity to “pull yourself up by your boot straps” no matter what your circumstances. This statement is true, of course, but it cannot be denied that parents have the unique ability to meet critical needs early in life that, if not met, hinders the child’s pursuit of happiness. A child without a good foundation built by his or her parents will find happiness much more difficult to find. The ability to earn a living is put at risk and the cost to government to support broken lives increases.
Conservatives need a new plan that addresses the vital role that family has in economic expansion and the cost of government. And what are the key points of this new plan?
- The institutions of the private sector, faith, family and work, not government, are the engines that will fuel the rebuilding or our faltering nation.
- The private sector must rebuild the weakest of these institutions, the family, by reducing the ranks of the fatherless child in every community.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. Get acquainted with First Things First in Chattanooga TN (FirstThings.org). This non-profit foundation reduced fatherlessness, unwed pregnancy and divorce, each by 30% in ten years without government assistance, not by passing laws, but by persuasion; not with tax dollars, but with private investment and not by reinventing the wheel, but by providing direction and resources to the private sector (business, the religious community, non-profits, etc.)
- Make reducing fatherlessness the number one cultural issue in America and replicate this initiative in every community in the nation.
Lastly, if conservative and liberal leaders really want that shining city on a hill, help the public realize that it does not come with government action but with a private sector initiative that reduces the ranks of fatherless children in America. Be an example and organize your communities to meet these goals.
Usher in a new conservative era. Champion the fatherless child. The economic expansion and reduction in government will be phenomenal.
Former California Congressman George Radanovich served 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives until his 2010 retirement. He recently established The Four Institutions foundation and Restore Fresno (www.thefourinstitutions.com). He also published “The New World Order is the Old World Order.”