What does liberty, limited government and independence look like? Few who live now can remember what our founders saw for our future.
Being a member of Generation X, I can honestly say I have only Reagan to refer to when it comes to any semblance of American values. He spent much of his time in office simply telling the people there can be a better way. He provided great analogies and gave remarkable speeches. Yet, for all of his vision, he could not change the nation on his own. All he could hope to achieve in eight years was to knock down the thick brush that had obscured our better path. He told us to follow our hearts and pursue our dreams. He could not dream for us. He remains to my generation, a marker, a tethering ledge on our decent into madness.
Reagan was not among our founders. He was merely a reflection of their highest aspirations, a lantern in the dismal swamp that has darkened our ambitious pursuits. In our linear measure of history he was a landmark or maybe a memorial to all we have discarded along the way. To return to his brief respite in the midst of our decline would be to concede defeat. It would not do justice to the American vision. It would be nothing more than a concession that good enough would be the pinnacle of the American experiment. We would need to climb still further, strive for the peak of our destiny and at the top of that mountain would be the founders and their guiding documents.
Each passing generation continues the downward march. Fewer in each even look back at the origin of our journey, now obscured by clouds. Liberty has become a myth, a legend, a wives tale as it fades into our collective memory.
To secure liberty for our children we must retrace our steps, to follow the flagstones back up the forgotten path. Look to Reagan and regain his optimism. Look back, still further, to Coolidge and cling to his humble, principled and quiet fortitude. Don’t stop there, rather find Lincoln with the burden and sacrifice of unity. Now gaze afar off to the first generation. We see Madison, the architect of government’s containment. Before him we see Jefferson, the physician that attended the birth of the United States of America. Then there, in distant memory is Washington, the first shining example of a statesman, in all of his humble reluctance, taking the newly generated title of president, and setting the standard of a God-fearing leader.
In all of their words, there lies a healthy store consisting of equal parts wisdom and admonition. Our founders did not invent but instead discovered eternal truths that transcend generational circumstance. They refined governing principles and retained, for the people, a cage in which to restrict its expansion. It is the pet of the people to be nurtured but never to be given dominion over them.
I am as guilty as most of speaking in platitudes, but there have been those in every generation that eloquently demonstrated what America was intended to be. Listen to them and gather those within our own generation who can carry the dimming torch of liberty. Restoring America to its original condition is not an inconvenience that has fallen upon us. It is the greatest calling on all of us and our time. America stands now in greater jeopardy of being forgotten than at any other point in our history.