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OPINION

Review: Toward a More Perfect Union

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

Walking up the creaky wooden staircase and into Timothy Goeglein’s Washington, D.C., the second-story office is a climb into something of a bygone era, back when parties, politicians, and even pundits functionally coexisted. 

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Our walls often reflect our passions and history, and Tim’s are no different. A former advisor to President George W. Bush, press secretary to former Indiana Senator Dan Coats, and now Vice President of External Relations and Government Affairs at Focus on the Family, the Washington veteran insider is surrounded by memories and memorabilia. They all tell a story – and provide a roadmap for the future of effective social conservative engagement. 

Look to the right, and there’s William F. Buckley, whom Tim used to sail with, Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush 41 and George W. Bush, Pope John Paul II, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, John Wayne, and even Babe Ruth. Most of them are smiling. There’s the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, even the Emancipation Proclamation. Letters from legends. A wing of the Smithsonian? No – but a snapshot of when Washington once worked together, bruises and sharp elbows notwithstanding.

William Shakespeare was right – “What’s past is prologue.” 

Goeglein’s latest book puts into words what all the photographs and documents on display in his office attempt to communicate – America is a grand and glorious place with a rich and colorful history. We should preserve and protect it, and one of the best ways we can do it is to build upon the firm foundation of our forefathers. “Toward a More Perfect Union: The Moral and Cultural Case for Teaching the Great American Story” (Fidelis Publishing, 2023) is a thorough look at where we are, what’s at stake – and how we can still thrive as a country. 

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To meet Tim Goeglein is to cross paths with a happy but sober warrior. Bow-tied and bullish on America, he will tell you he remains optimistic that our best days as a Union are still before us – but the alarm bells are ringing, and the lights are blinking red.

“We are now several decades deep in the mire of historical and civic ignorance, and we are beginning to see the political and social ramifications,” Goeglein writes. “Our elected leaders no longer know the basics of the government they work within.” 

But it’s even worse – ignorance can be bliss, but the current band of cultural revolutionists seems determined to trash the past whenever possible or erase it altogether. Goeglein warns that these individuals are “bulldozing our heritage, and demolishing our culture so that they can set up a new one – one with no ties to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ and homage to God-given rights.” 

In this thorough analysis, Goeglein rightly takes aim at the “1619 Project,” which he calls “an attempt to radically rewrite American history and advance the narrative that America was first and foremost – and continues to be – an oppressive slave state motivated and sustained by racism.” 

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With masterful and delicate precision, Goeglein exposes the effort as the ideological counterfeit it is – and dives into the hopeful and redeeming antidote.   

A rigorous knowledge of American history is an excellent place to start, beginning around the family table. Use meal and family time to remember the heroes on whose shoulders we stand. History is the grandest of adventures. Talking about it will help make the pages of books come alive. 

Not all schools are equal, and parents must be vigilant regarding educational choices and curriculum. He subscribes to the Reagan doctrine of dealing with the overtures of the Soviet Union – “Trust, but verify.” Public schools can work; private, charter, and homeschooling are probably best.  

The battle for the hearts and minds of America’s youth will be fought in state legislatures. Know what’s happening–and get involved whenever and wherever possible. Most of all, take responsibility for your own children. Don’t abdicate your role to bureaucrats, teachers, and school administrators. Read good books to those in your care, take trips with them to historic sites, and model civic engagement.

Ultimately, Tim Goeglein delivers on what he sets out to accomplish in this project. The book is a blueprint; America’s citizens possess the tools to rebuild and reinforce America’s fractured and weakened architecture. It all brings to mind the famous story of Benjamin Franklin exiting Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention in 1787. “Doctor, what have got?” someone shouted. “A republic or a monarchy?” Franklin paused and replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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Paul J. Batura is vice president of Focus on the Family and host of the “WHAT A LIFE! Lessons from Legends Podcast.” He can be reached via email: Paul.Batura@fotf.org.

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