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  • Morning Bell: Reclaiming Our Founding Principles

    Happy Birthday America! America is 234 years old. She was born on July 4, 1776, with the passage of the Declaration of Independence.  Since then, America has grown from thirteen colonies on the east coast to fill a vast continent. Her economic and military power is envied around the world. And the American people are hardworking, churchgoing, affluent, and generous.

    Independence Day is an opportunity each year to remember the root of our success—our founding principles as set forth in the Declaration of Independence.

    The Declaration of Independence serves as a philosophical statement of America’s first principles. As Matthew Spalding describes, the Declaration affirms that all men are created equal. By nature, men have a right to liberty that is unalienable, meaning it cannot be given up or taken away. And because individuals equally possess such inalienable rights, governments derive their just powers from the consent of those governed. The purpose of government is to secure these fundamental rights, and the people retain the right to alter or abolish a government that fails to do so.

    These principles have made America the great nation it is today. But, since the early 20th century, these principles have been under attack in the academy, the media, and popular culture. So-called progressives have rejected the existence of self-evident truths—in the Declaration of Independence and elsewhere. Instead, they embrace the notion of “Progress” that is constant change towards an unspecified end. From these faulty principles, it follows that, all men are not created equal; some people are further along in the historical process than others. There are not permanent rights with which man is endowed. Government creates rights, and these rights evolve according to the demands of the time. There is no need for consent of the governed, just experts who will tell us how to live and how to progress.

    This is a serious attack on our principles, but not an insurmountable one.

    If you want to learn more about America’s founding principles, The Heritage Foundation has an abundance of materials.

    Check out the First Principles Essay series. It covers a variety of topics including the Founding, the Constitution, Progressivism, and Modern Conservatism.

    Don’t forget our books! Add The Heritage Guide to the Constitution and How to Read the Federalist Papers to your summer reading list. http://www.heritage.org/Bookstore If you are interested in starting your own summer reading group, watch for the forthcoming leaders guide to Matthew Spalding’s We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming our Future. In the coming weeks, look for our new companion video series for We Still Hold These Truths too.

    We are constantly releasing more products to aid you in your study of America’s first principles. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for First Principles updates. Stay tuned to the Foundry to learn about how Heritage experts apply First Principles in their policy research. Sign up for the new First Principles e-newsletter New Common Sense and learn about applying first principles to the issues of today.

    James Wilson once noted an important maxim of politics “that of all governments, those are the best, which, by the natural effect of their constitutions, are frequently renewed or drawn back to their first principles.” Independence Day is a great opportunity to think about the meaning of America. But don’t let the Fourth of July be the only day to ponder our nation and its foundation. This summer, make an education in first principles your priority.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    27 Responses to Morning Bell: Reclaiming Our Founding Principles

    1. Ed Foster, Brevard, says:

      Surely The Heritage Foundation does not hold that Founders statement that "all men are created equal" is incompatible with "progress." Thankfully, the American people have "progressed" a long way from the days of beeswax candles and leeching as the accepted medical progress. Such "progress" does not deny that we are "created equal" and even that phrase must be used with considerable care since it is self-evident that all men are not created with equal mental power or equal physical power, etc. but only that they are created with the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Careless use of slogans and phrases leaves conservatives open to justifiable criticism by those who adhere to "PPP": a "progressive political philosophy."

    2. Betty Florida says:

      Is it inalienable or unalienable.

    3. Jimmy Guana NH says:

      It seems rather ironic to me that America is celebrating it's independence from the tyrannical rule of the King of England 234 years ago, when they don't seem to be aware of the new total dependence that is being imposed on them by the New King who resides in their own land. How can they be so joyful of having rid themselves the bondage of the past when they can't seem to draw any parallels to what is affecting them here and now. There is none so blind as those that will not see!

    4. Richard Cancemi, Arl says:

      Over the last century we have allowed Progressives to use the very freedoms of our Country to take them away from us! We have allowed the "cancer" to grow and spread. Too many people do not realize the presence of this "cancer" in their Country and their lives any may soon find it has destroyed everything that is AMERICA!

      Vote intelligently and not for "image", "rhetoric" or "emotional stirrings". Obama and other Progressives have used these to dupe Americans with their lies and hiding of true intention.

    5. Peg Gentle says:

      As a nation, we are allowing the three rights that we guarantee each American to be taken from one segment of our society—each day!!! Those unborn Americans (and they are truly people and Americans) are innocent and cannot stand and speak for their three unalienable rights (guaranteed rights) because they are living in a protective environment until time for birthing. Just because they cannot stand and speak for themselves SHOULD NOT keep us from speaking and fending for them. They are human beings and they deserve the same rights you and I enjoy! Then, when it is decided that these lives will be taken at the hands of their parents (for whatever reason–there is no real good reason for killing them), we ignore the pain and agony that these beings must suffer! When we fail to seek every means to help these innocent babies, we are failing to uphold the laws of this land which guarantee these little creations to be safe and healthy. Why do we ignore this?!!! Just because these little beings are NOT out of the womb does NOT mean they should not have full rights guaranteed by our founding documents. When will we stop this holocaust!!!!!!!? It is imperative that we address this wickedness.

    6. Clearhead, U.S.S.O. says:

      "…………..and the people retain the right to alter or abolish a government that fails to do so……….." (Shhhhhhh! If the 'present' administration discovers this in the Declaration, they'll spend another few billion of our tax dollars figuring a way to get it rescinded) On the other hand — where are all the PEOPLE who retain this right? And why are they (we) not actively ALTERING or ABOLISHING this "government" which is so purposely and brazenly FAILING TO DO SO? Well, the 'government' is once again taking care of all that for us by systematically ALTERING and ABOLISHING our beloved Country. God help us!!

    7. Jim Roumeliotis - Hu says:

      May God bless America and it's brave soldiers. Give us the fortitude to continue our struggle for freedom and protect the Constitution which makes America strong ane unique.

    8. David Landrum USA says:

      I woke this morning thinking of the state of this nation and how the man occupying the white house is self serving and is not (ipse) even attempting to protect this once great Nation from harm or trespass. Yesterday I received an e-mail from Obama where he talked about the birth of one of his children; when this was the birth of our Nation where so many gave their lives to create. Yes the USA was the creation of an independent Nation where these rights shall be self evident. With due respect being given to our Lord God throughout the documents that were and should still be the foundation of this Great Nation, the land of the free and the home of the brave. Bravery is standing up for what you know to be right, just, fair and equal.

      Lawlessness creates anarchy. The US Constitution asserts that if there is something wrong, those that have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action. The family in the White House has not kept current their rental obligations. We as a Nation deserve the fulfillment of obligations onerous to the occupancy of this Nations Capitol. The protection of Law in the support of the betterment of this Nation as promulgated through the United States Constitution. This President needs to be impeached for failure to uphold and protect the rights privileges or immunities belonging to each legal citizen of the United States of America by the exercise of authority of the appointment to the office of President of The United States of America:

      1. 1st Conceiving the idea that invasion of this Country by persons covertly and at times through terrorist acts crossing the protected borders of these United States is in some way okay or unenforceable.

      2. Allowing even condoning the acts of BP Oil and Gas in the destruction of this nations’ resources through failure to act, take charge or direct or remedy for the protection of this Nations’ Assets and Citizens.

      3. The willful and considered abridgements to the United States Constitution which Mr. B. Obama took an oath to protect, yet is openly and adversely challenging through the exercise of power emanating through the office of the President of the United States Of America

      We are at war in other nations throughout the world fighting terrorist activities, yet this President states that we can not even police our own borders. How absurd, lawlessness creates ciaos, without enforcement of established rules and Law there is no leadership and there can be no recovery; only ciaos.

      1. For years I have e-mailed Governors Congress, and Senators to remedy illegal individuals within this Nations borders. No person, group, organization or corporation can profit from an illegal act.

      a. As no profit can be acquired, no property or possessions can legally be acquired resulting from illegal activities, they shall be confiscated and returned to the public that has been harmed because of these act which are in violation of prevailing law

      b. Since the confiscation, and auction or other means of transitioning the confiscated materials, merchandise or property will require additional labor by the Government, there will be the establishment of 2 funds,

      1. Federal/State compensation to return the expenditure of monies and recourses required for the enforcement of these Laws,

      2. A victim assurance fund that would fund or subsidies payment to victims for loss or damage to property proven to have been caused by any individual(s), group(s), origination(s) or corporation(s) violating the Laws of the United States.

      All of this is implementable through the Homeland Defense and addressing only Terrorist and Illegal: aliens, individuals, group(s), origination(s) or corporation(s) occupying or attempting to occupy any sovereign land space, building waterway or other propositions within of the United States of America.

      I promise that if you take all profit or reward for a criminal act away, the act(s) will stop.

      Equality, the term, act and level that we each strive to achieve, that strikes at the very core this nation fights so vehemently to establish, the abridgments of the basic Constitutional rights, protections and immunities that we as a nation are and have been suffering because of the failures are more than intolerable; they verge criminal.

    9. Sam Gross - Idaho says:

      FYI – The pretended rights of man cannot be the rights of the people. For to have these rights are things incompatible. The one supposes the presents the other the absence of a state of civil society.

    10. Ted Stein says:

      Just a refresher, our founding fathers limited those rights to land owners. We sacrificed the lives and treasure of many so a few could have power and wealth. I'm not discrediting what we've accomplished. We've accomplished quite a lot. But it's taken several ammendmants to that same constitution and additional lives and treasure in several wars, some justified, some not.

      I tend to reflect on days of rememberance. I realize that we've made most of our progess when we've done the science, then changed the assumptions based on practical reality. Nothing is gained by limiting ourselves to the status quo. Progress should not be limited to a party. We should all expect to evolve and grow.

      As I have said to my children since they were very young, I hope we've developed since the days of our founding fathers. I think they expected us to.

    11. Russ Errett Sebring says:

      The constitution provides for three branches of government, Judicial, Administration and Executive. Each branch was to ride heard on the other two branches. This was to prevent tyranny. Can any one of the branches act on their own or are they required to receive a grievance from a citizen.

      Another misread statement of the constitution is “promote the general welfare”. As I see it this means that everyone’s “happiness” is promoted by the government and not giving aid to a few. Is putting the subjects into poverty by taking most of the fruits of their labor, promoting the general welfare? Does the government have the right to spend the country into bankruptcy.

    12. Blair, Franconia, NH says:

      Paul Harvey said it best. "Self-government without self-discipline won't work." Obama

      has failed to see that. But we can't blame Obama completely. It's not Obama's fault.

      It's yours, mine, Congress', and those who'd rob from our children, grandchildren, and

      great-grandchildren, to get another debt fix. Ronald Reagan once said: "I'd say that

      Congress has a tendency to spend money like drunken sailors but that would be an

      insult to drunken sailors because drunken sailors spend their own money." :) He was

      right in the 1980s and he's still right today. Keynesian economics has gotten us into

      a hole that's only gotten deeper because Congress still has the shovel. Hey, Congress, when you're in a hole, STOP DIGGING!

    13. Ted, Kingsport TN says:

      unalienable, not inalienable; from God

    14. njm, Jefferson County, WA says:

      While it’s really great to put oneself through an in-depth study of our founding principles, it’s important to remember that you need a really good icebreaker to raise interest, curiosity and, yes, concern.

      There’s no better icebreaker for those who are at least partially engaged in what’s going on around them than the Declaration of Independence itself.

      My wife and I went to a couple of gatherings of friends on the Fourth. One was a group of “progressive” people. They enjoyed the reading, and commented largely around how important it is that we understand where we come from.

      A reasonably OK response, given the political bent they follow.

      The second group was more conservative. They were more reflective. largely around how far down a path remarkably similar in policy tone we have allowed ourselves to go.

      When you really read the entire Declaration, it’s stunning how few offenses our federal government has left to bring us to a political level where the Founders determined a complete change was necessary.

      Do you think that one in a hundred Americans are aware of that? Let’s get them to actually sit down for the few moments it takes to read it and then spend at least a few minutes pondering what it all means for our children, grandchildren, and generations beyond.

    15. ReCon USMC says:

      Our Forefathers would see this President , Media and the Left equally as evil as King George's Bloody Iron Hands .

      Dominance though a insane bought and paid fore corrupt Press , Congress and power hungry leftist President offers little difference 234 years later .

      Ownership is simply Owen-ship when it seeks to totally ''Control " the mind , arms incomes , Taxes and ones home .

    16. Mary, Los Angeles, C says:

      In talking about the "inalienable rights" we all equally have, given by the Creator, I wish that you would have mentioned directly along with liberty, "the right to life." It is so contentious an issue especially for those who see themselves as the ones who decide the "inalienable rights." In all the fine writing you do, stand up for what is right as being given us by the Creator and not for the political issue of choosing death for millions of unique American citizens. Thank you.

    17. Pingback: GayPatriot » The Day After Independence Day

    18. Doug, Oklahoma says:

      I'd like to see a discussion of the 17th Amendment–the one approved in Wilson's regime to creat a Senate elected by popular vote rather than appointed by the individual states. It seems this greatly weakened States Rights and if Senators were still appointed today–thinks like the attrocious Obamacare, Cap and Trade, etc., would never have happened.

    19. Billie says:

      the democrat leaders of today have no mentality or ability to grasp the concept of this document.

      They'd rather victimize everyone they can and blame it on whitey. This document is fitted for all mankind. It recognizes no skin color to be more human then any other.

      How dare these Ignorant fools. Everyones waling around feeling sorry for themselves because of governmental influential distortions and deceptions…. resulting in government growth.

      Not a victim? Vote democrat, they'll convince you otherwise.

    20. Billie says:

      I meant, "grasp our founding principles"….

      sorry.

    21. Drew Page, IL says:

      I agree with Julia Shaw's comments when it comes to reclaiming our founding principals. We are 234 years old as a country and are still evolving, but what we are evolving into is anybody's guess.

      Our nation was born in turmoil. While there were common grievances among the citizens of the thirteen colonies, there was much disagreement about how to address these grievances. Some wanted to remain loyal to the English Crown and others wanted to create a new nation free and independent of England. Many colonists were fearful of being labeled seditionists and traitors had every right to be afraid of British reprisals, which could result in their loss of property and wealth, imprisonment and even death.

      The Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution were noble documents, but were not without hypocrisy. The issue of slavery and the status of slaves was fiercely debated in the drafting and adoption of these documents. This issue alone nearly nearly prevented the adoption of the Constitution. The issue of the day was independence, but at its root, the arguement for independence was based on the concept that all men were endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How could men have liberty and pursue happiness as a slave. In order to get all thirteen colonies to adopt the Declaration of Independence, our founding principals were sadly compromised them from day one. It took almost another 100 years to make slavery illegal and another 100 years until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. The birthing process of this nation was in many ways similar to childbirth. It was painful, bloody and ugly. Not everything was done right and we shouldn't try to pretend that it was. We need to look hard at the things that were done wrong and the people who were terribly damaged by those wrongs, so that hopefully we can learn from these errors and heal the wounds and move forward together.

      For a long time in this nation's history its citizens were, of necessity, self-sufficient. It was a harsh environment in which to survive, but that harshness made the survivors strong and fiercely independent. Mass immigration into the United States began in the late 19th century and the early part of the 20th century and the only thing they could expect when they got here was opportunity. There were no programs of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare payments, Unemployment compensation, rent subsidies, food stamps or aid to dependent children. Unlike any other country in the world, land was free for the taking if you were strong enough to hold it after you took it and the fruits of your labor were yours.

      Even from the beginning, people looked to the government to do those things they could not do on their own, like to provide for the common defense, open foreign trade and regulate interstate commerce. Politicians, being what they are, have from the very beginning sought to tell the masses whatever it was they wanted to hear in order to get their votes. It didn't take very long for politicians to learn that they could successfully bribe voters with their own money. Over time, more and more was promised and the cost went up and up, which leads us to where we are today. The number of people demanding more and more from the government continues to grow and the number of people available to pay for these additional demands continues to shrink. The political promises of more and more aid to more and more people continue to be made and those making the promises won't be around when the bill comes due.

    22. Harold Harris says:

      I have some incredible e-mails that I would like to forward to someone. These are things that all Americans should be aware of. Please provide me with an e-mail that I can forward to.

      Harold

    23. Pingback: Reclaiming our founding principles

    24. Wildcat from Dallast says:

      I agree that it is a very positive thing to look back at the principles of our founding and equally important to return to them even quicker than we went astray. There appears to a problem for many who have not learned the founding principles in the first place (if they are products of the last thirty+ years of our failing public education system) or if they stopped questioning and investigating what we were not taught in school when we were there due to a lack of time to get everything in or perhaps due to decisions made by school system administrators and principals. It may have even been controlled by the local school board, who knows?

      Here in America we have seen resurgence in the desire to know the facts of what shaped our nation by those who both wrote about it and eventually made the decisions about it. That increased appetite for such knowledge has been motivated by the dramatic loss of personal liberties and freedoms foisted on us by the Progressives currently in office and illuminated by such entities as the Heritage Foundation, Fox News and such programs as Glenn Beck & Rush Limbaugh with a newly emerging one on Fox by Judge Napolitano and somewhat from Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. A relative newcomer to the Conservative side of things including our 2nd Amendment rights is John Stossel. All of them deserve our thanks and gratitude for filtering out the deception of political routines and getting down to the facts in the events of the day.

      I particularly liked being reminded by Matthew Spalding that included in the Declaration of Independence is one very important concept the Progressives (especially those currently in power) would rather have us forget or just not know at all which is, “the purpose of government is to secure these fundamental rights, and the people retain the right to alter or abolish a government that fails to do so.” The state of current affairs brings to a boil the right of the people to alter of abolish a government that fails to do so. I submit the form of our government is fine, however, the people that are in the positions, elected or otherwise, are absolutely not and as such it is that group of elite statists/progressives/socialists & liberals in general who have to be removed from power adroitly. Their demonstrated actions versus the words they have uttered are mutually exclusive and if they are not guilty of treason they are at least guilty of crimes commonly associated with those who abuse their authority. I remember once sitting in a briefing where the command’s Inspector General presented a matrix elaborating the types of offenses usually attributed to officers by rank. What I read, see and hear about relative to our congressman in the House and Senate as well as those in the Executive branch is a conglomeration of that matrix all relating to their lack of professional ethics, greed, and lust for power as they constantly commit these same offenses against us the taxpayers, it just has much greater ramifications than military officers of any grade can inflict on the people in their command. I hope we soon take advantage of ridding ourselves of these criminal elements in ALL branches of the federal government.

    25. robert sargent new j says:

      progressives want so much of our liberty.they know whats best for us.i see it this way.once we are borned, our rights from god is life, liberty ever thing after that is up to family and your self.progressives is a cancer in the country.we vote in nov.that is our chemo to our cure to our cancer.we vote for freedom in nov.get rid of the progressives vote in our founding fathers and the constitution.

    26. Dennis Georgia says:

      The 4th of July should be for all to remember what was given that we may live free. The Bill Of Rights was written for we the people, yet the people take it all for granted. This is so wrong. We have so much to be thankful for, the lives we have and the joys of that life. We have the privildge of worship as we see fit, God is alive and well, even when certain ones want Him dead, He lives.

      America has become a country and a society that wants "guvment" to make all their decisions, to provide for all their wants and needs, to assume all responsiblity for their happiness and welfare. This is not wht made this country great, Pride in ones life, pride in ones ability to do good at what ever they chose to do, pride in this country, and its leaders. Today that pride is being replaced in "guvment" lost in its leaders, as we have none in the White House to be proud of. We have become the dumb, klead by the ignorant. We have to change our way of thinking, take back what is ours, regain the pride in ourselves, the respect for one another and the jobs we do. We also have to take steps to put GOD first in our lives and our country. Then and only then will America regain its place in the world. We can not controll the rest of the worls, but we can and must regain controll of our every day lives and our way of life.

    27. Sovereignthink, Ca says:

      America Belling, Liberty Belling, Alarm Belling

      Step 1 Get a Liberty Bell and Carry it

      Step 2 Ring that Bell at Noon, In Public, where ever you are. Ring the alarm bell when ever you feel the spirit of liberty, the need and desire to fight for Liberty.

      more.
      http://sovereignthink.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/am

    28. yankeesamurai somewh says:

      WHEN ARE YOU PEOPLE GOING TO WAKE UP AND REALIZE THAT OUR GREAT NATION IS UNDER DEADLY ASSAULT FROM WITHIN, PROGRESSIVES ARE COMMUNISTS, WE DROVE THEM FROM UNDER THEIR ROCKS IN THE SOVIET UNION, AND EUROPE, THEY HAVE ENJOINED THE IGNORANT LIBERALS AND LOST DEMOCRATS IN THIS NATION AS THEIR ARMY WITHIN, AND THEY ARE KILLING THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA OFF ONE BITE AT A TIME, AND SO FAR BY THIS POINT IN TIME THE GREAT LADY IS STANDING ON ONE LEG LEFT AND WAVING FOR HELP WITH THE LAST ARM SHES GOT LEFT… THE GODDAM SOCIALST COMMUNIST LIBERAL BASTARDS ARE KILLING THIS COUNTRY AND THIS IS WAR, PEOPLE YOUR NATION AND YOUR FREEDOMS ARE BEING STOLEN RIGHT OUT FROM UNDER YOU… WE ARE SO CLOSE TO LOOSING WHAT YOU GREW UP IN THAT ITS ALMOST TOO LATE.. BY GOD…AND ALL THAT IS AMERICAN… IF YOU DONT RISE UP AND FIGHT FOR THE LIFE OF THIS NATION, COME NOVEMBER 2…YOU WONT HAVE ONE ON NOV 3RD… THEY WILL HAVE WON…AND IF YOU THINK THIS YEAR WAS BAD… YOU HAVE NOT SEEN ANYTHING YET… YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN WILL LIVE IN A SOCIALST STATE WHERE EVERYTHING YOU HAVE WILL BE TAKEN FROM YOU…. IF YOU DONT FIGHT THEM AT EVERY TURN…AND DEFEAT THEM IN NOVEMBER…. THEN YOUR TOO STUPID TO DESERVE A COUNTY LIKE THIS… IF THIS WERE ANY OTHER NATION… THEIR WOULD HAVE ALREADY BEEN ARMED REVOLOUTION… OURS IS AT THE VOTING BOOTH NOV 2… FAIL TO VOTE AND DEFEAT THEM… AMERICA IS LOST ..FOREVER…

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