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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.