First Principles: Self-governance in an Open Society
The difficult part is in understanding how actual, not idealizd or simplistic governance is best accomplished. The conclusion is that human nature must be given its due. Tom Tripp is a political consultant and campaign manager and has held appointments in the Reagan, George H.
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Bush, and Clinton Administrations. Army veteran, he is a practicing attorney who also manages business enterprises and serves on educational, corporate, and non-profit boards. He publishes on government, politics, and the law. He resides in Wilson, Wyoming. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Condition: Used: Good. More information about this seller Contact this seller. Condition: Good. Connecting readers with great books since Customer service is our top priority!.
Satisfaction Guaranteed! Book is in Used-Good condition. Pages and cover are clean and intact. Used items may not include supplementary materials such as CDs or access codes. May show signs of minor shelf wear and contain limited notes and highlighting. Seller Inventory Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. The people of the former Soviet Union are discovering this the hard way, in a tragic drama we have been tracking with great interest and concern at Forbes magazine.
Communism destroyed not only material progress there, but also the moral and spiritual foundations of the country. Trust between strangers, the fundamental moral component of a free-market economy, barely exists. Without trust, how do you sign or enforce business contracts? How do you operate a system of credit? How do you maintain a basic sense of order?
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The people of the former Soviet Union are discovering that a free, self-governing society is nearly impossible without a moral foundation. Theft is rampant. Their murder rate is several times higher than our own. Mafias are moving into the vacuum left by the fall of communism to seize control of vast sectors of economic activity.
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A Hobbesian world has emerged, where life is "nasty, brutish, and short. In America today, however, not everyone regards these basic moral truths as "self-evident. As a result, modern liberalism has undermined a long-held American principle: that the law should protect the weakest among us, not just the strong, the healthy, and the rich. The effort to legitimate all moral claims, to give personal freedom an utterly free hand--to "define deviancy down"--has given us the following: horrific increases in violent crime, out-of-wedlock births, family breakups, and substance abuse; dramatic declines in educational and cultural standards; a proliferation of increasingly bizarre lawsuits; a blizzard of regulations that defy common sense and assault our rights to property and due process; a growing corruption of the tax code; and a judiciary that often acts like an imperial aristocracy hurtling decrees down upon the rest of us.
Modern liberalism has adopted a view of liberty that is at the same time too broad and too narrow. Ideas have consequences. The statistics are grim enough. But the anecdotal evidence hits home: An year-old girl attending her senior prom in New Jersey last spring allegedly delivered her baby in a rest room, disposed of it in a plastic bag where it suffocated to death, cleaned herself up, and went back to the dance floor, where she asked the DJ to play a favorite song.
A teenage couple in Delaware has been charged with giving birth to a baby boy in a motel room and then tossing him into a trash dumpster, where he died a cold, horrifying death. Meanwhile, "Doctor" Jack Kevorkian now claims to have "assisted" in more than "suicides. Certainly crime is not new. But Americans have rarely been so confused about right and wrong, about what is acceptable and what is to be forcefully condemned.
So we must be clear: A free society cannot survive the collapse of the two-parent family or the absence of fathers, love, and discipline in the lives of so many children. A free society cannot survive an unchecked explosion in violent crime. Nor can a free society survive a generation of crack babies and teenagers whose minds and bodies have been destroyed by illegal drugs.
Like millions of people, my wife and I are deeply concerned about the moral condition of our nation. We are raising five daughters in a society whose wheels, it often seems, are coming off. It is difficult enough in any era to raise young girls to be wise and virtuous young women. But it is particularly difficult today. Movies, television, music, and the Internet bombard young people with cultural messages of sexual revolution and self-absorbed materialism that tempt them away from good moral character rather than appealing to the better angels of their natures.
Affluence does not protect children from temptation; sometimes it makes temptation more accessible. The good news is that this is not the first time we have faced such dark times and turned things around. America has seen several periods of renewal and reform, most notably the Second Great Awakening and the Progressive Era.
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Following the Revolutionary War, America experienced a period of moral decline. Fewer and fewer people attended church. Spiritual devotion waned and social problems proliferated. From the late s until the late s, per-capita consumption of alcohol in America rose dramatically, to about four to five times per person what it is today.
Everybody took a swig from the jug--teachers, preachers, children. They called it "hard cider," but it was nothing like the cider we buy at the grocery store today. In those days, it seemed everyone was in a haze by noontime. The social consequences were predictable.
Thomas Paine was proclaiming that Christianity was dead--and certainly the body of faith appeared to be in a coma. Yet even as church rolls were shrinking and greed, sensuality and family breakdown were becoming more widespread, America was about to experience a great spiritual revival.
The first public-health movement in America was launched not by the government but by citizen-activists such as Lyman Beecher, the founder of the American Bible Society and a pastor who went on to form the American Society for the Promotion of Temperance in This enterprise became known as the Temperance Movement--and it worked. Within one generation, alcoholic consumption in America fell by two-thirds. Soon pastors and community leaders were opening elementary and secondary schools this was before "public" education , founding colleges and universities, setting up orphanages and homes for abandoned children, creating shelters for the poor, building hospitals, and exhorting people to stop drinking and spend more time with their families.
The Reverend Thomas Gallaudet opened his school for the deaf. William McGuffey wrote his famous "Eclectic Readers," of which million copies were printed. It was during this rebuilding of the moral foundations of a free society that French historian Alexis de Tocqueville came to America in But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.
This gets to one of the great strengths of the American democracy.