When Ed Feulner and I set out to write Getting America Right in 2005, we did so because we thought America—and the conservative movement that has done so much for her—had strayed off course. By proposing a six-point plan for reform, we thought we could help the country—and the movement—return to its first principles, perhaps even ahead of the November 2006 mid-term elections.
As you may have noticed by now, our hopes for corrective action before the elections were dashed. And so a tidal wave of Democratic success at the ballot box swept Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid into power on Capitol Hill, and ushered in a contentious political clash between the president and Congress in Washington.
This political shift has proven a difficult pill to swallow. Still, our hopes for larger change for America remain strong. We seek change that has the power to outlast election cycles, politicians, and even generations. Change that reaffirms free markets, free people, traditional values, and a strong national defense. We believe this change starts with Getting America Right’s six simple questions that every citizen and policymaker should consider before supporting a particular policy.
First, is it the government’s business? The rise of the administrative state and its offspring, a culture of dependency, has produced a federal government that thinks everything is its business—and a populace that largely agrees with that notion. This fast track to tyranny must be stopped. We believe federal involvement in the lives of American citizens should be minimal, leaving room for state and local solutions in public policy. More importantly, by limiting the size and power of the federal government we encourage millions of creative Americans to devise free market solutions for our most complex problems.
Second, does it promote self-reliance? In its annual Index of Dependency analysis last year, the Heritage Foundation found that individual dependency on government rose six percent between 2004 and 2005 and has more than doubled since 1980. For an example of the consequences of this dependency, consider the response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Citizens thought government—state, local, or federal—would care for them. Local officials thought state government was responsible; state officials thought responsibility rested with the federal government. In the end, nobody moved, and many people died. We believe promoting a culture of self-reliance is the key to preventing such calamities in the future. America is a stronger, safer and more vibrant nation when its citizens take responsibility for their own lives.
Doug Wilson is the the co-author, with Edwin Feulner, of Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today.
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