The fundamental conservative belief is this: people don’t change from then to now. From the Garden of Eden to the Garden State, human nature has been the same. Since the dawn of time, a good man has been hard to find.
There’s this myth that America was once a conservative Christian nation where morality prevailed. If men weren’t angels, they certainly acted like saints. Sex was saved for marriage and people didn’t party and drink like they do now. Oh, and supposedly politician wasn’t a dirty word.
But reality was different. Birth records find that a remarkable number of babies were born about six months after marriage and about nine months after conception. The average American consumed about five times the amount of alcohol in the early 1800s as today. And politicians were engaged in scandals then, too. In America, we have simply traded Hamilton’s Maria Reynolds for Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky. But of course, even David had Bathsheba.
Do moral failings in our leaders mean we throw up our hands and give up on the political fight for a more perfect union? A lot of folks — in fact, the majority of folks — thought so back in the 1770s. Only about 40 percent of colonists supported the cause of independence. A solid majority were either opposed or apathetic (20 percent of Americans remained loyalists, and about 35 percent were uninvolved). Washington lost more soldiers to desertion than to the red coats.
And yet, the revolution succeeded. The Constitution was ratified. The most prosperous and free nation on earth still stands.
Obviously, we face challenges today. They faced challenges yesterday. They overcame.
This wasn’t because the people back then were inherently more moral. Virtue is a choice that every human heart must make each day. Our forefathers, facing even greater threats than we face, chose that day what principles they would serve. It was that choice that made them great.
In the conservative presidential field, all of the remaining candidates running are good men who have done great things. Santorum was the architect of welfare reform and virtually every pro-life bill that has become law in the last two decades. Romney governed a liberal state and saved our national honor at the 2002 Olympics. Gingrich had the vision to build an electoral majority to stave off Clinton’s liberalism. Paul has voted NO on almost every unconstitutional bill. All profess faith and have taken courageous stands for principle.
We face the corrosive effects of big government more than ever before, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. Today, we who consider ourselves traditional conservatives have a lot to be optimistic about. We turned congress and most state governments red in 2010. Close to 80 percent of Americans consider themselves Christians – an historically stable number. Church attendance is trending upwards lately, not to mention that crime rates are trending downwards.
We only need continue to choose today what principles we serve – national strength, individual liberty, and family life – and then vote for those who best champion those principles. We aren’t looking for a perfect union. We don’t need great men. We need the great principles that have existed all along.