Part 1: The Heritage Foundation’s Chicago event on December 1 about ‘Preserving America’s first Principles’

December 5, 2011

Part 1:  “Heritage Foundation morning event featured Matthew Spalding, Ph.D in ‘Preserving America’s First Principles'”

The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C. based think tank that promotes the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense, hosted a panel discussion and luncheon featuring Steve Forbes as keynote speaker, at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago, 160 E. Pearson Street in Chicago on Thursday, December 1st.

The Heritage Foundation is committed to building an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.  Heritagefoundation. org.

It was appropriate that Matthew Spalding, Ph.D. was selected to begin the morning program of the Heritage Foundation, as he is the vice president for American Studies at the Heritage Foundation.  Dr. Spading is a constitutional scholar, historian and best-selling author and oversees Heritage’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics and serves as project leader for the think tank’s First Principles initiative.

Dr. Spading is also a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and political Philosophy; has taught American government at George Mason University, the Catholic University of America, and Claremont McKenna College; and is an adjunct fellow at the Kirby Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship at Hillsdale College.

Spalding’s 2009 best-seller, “We Still Hold These Truths:  Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future”, details America’s core principles, shows how they have come under assault by modern progressive-liberatlism and lays out a strategy to recover them.

The general theme of all who spoke throughout the day’s event had as its tenent an America which has reached a tipping point and of the challenges lying ahead to return this nation to the core principles of its Founding Fathers.

Steve DeBuhr, responsible for communicating Heritage’s mission to members who reside in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky, introduced Dr. Spading.  But before doing so DeBuhr followed through with his own remarks about this nation and its standing since its founding 235 years ago.  He spoke of the American Revolution as a remarkable event which ended in a Constitutional government that has long endured, despite being attached by relativism from time to time since its founding.

Mr. DeBuhr further related how Dr. Spalding goes out to talk with congressmen and staffers, and that he is fond of story telling as a way to explain abstract ideas.  Also revealed was that Spalding actively advised Congressman Paul Ryan in drafting the narration for his budget proposal.

Dr. Spalding continued the dialog begun by Steve DeBuhr through relating how American history is made up of turning points, i.e., such as the Battle Concord and Washington crossing the Delaware.  Turning points at the time of their happenings aren’t  perceived as such, but are only recognized for what they are in hindsight.

In Dr. Spalding’s words:  “This nation is now at a turning point just as vital as the battles of long ago. Core principles being threatened involve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The outcome of this battle is yet unknow.”

Continuing along the same theme:  “This nation is the most charitable and humanitarian nation in the world because of what we believe and act upon based upon principles embedded in our nation’s Constitution.”

The American Dream is based on the tenets of our Constitution which grants equality to all (Before this nation was established, in most countries  citizens were viewed as subjects of a king with little or no rights.).

As citizens you have the right to the fruits of your labor to create property and opportunity.   This is made possible through free enterprise, which gives everyone an opportunity to achieve success so it can be passed along to their children for the betterment of their lives.

The concept of Liberty has been challenged and even curtailed during past eras — as it is likewise being challenged today — through the introduction of the New Deal and Great Society programs.   The concept of a living Constitution, espoused by liberals, has time and again demonstrated that government is not better run by a central controlled bureaucracy.

According to Spalding, the greatest model of central control existing today is Obamacare, which has nothing to do with health care.  The idea of government control of health care is not a recent one.  It has been a dream for over one hundred years when first proposed back in 1906.

Today the aim of Obamacare is to transfer one sixth of the American economy to the government for its administration of health care.

In the National Elections of 2012, Americans will decide which way they wish to go.  Will the progressives win their argument that there is only one way to go, the European way which is failing, or will the American people vote to return to the principles of our Founding Fathers?

Dr. Spalding emphasized that now is not the time for tinkering or for compromise in this time of national debate that will decide the future of our nation.

The following points were given by Spalding as a positive guide to action:

1.  Seize the world’s high ground.  Win the battle by claiming the high ground through revisiting the American principles that have created a good and a great nation.

2.  Get our financial policies in order to save the American Dream.

3.  Keep an eye on our national security.  With increased danger in the world it is fine to debate, but this nation will suffer if it overlooks its responsibility.

In order to take back our nation we must return to the principles established by our Founding Fathers, meeting today’s crisis head-on as we did back in 1776, 1860, World I, World II, and during the 1970’s with the threat of Communism.

In conclusion, Dr. Spalding told the inspiring story of Dr. Joseph Warren as a early patriot who lived in the center of the whirlwind of revolutionary activity in the 1760’s and 1770’s.  “During the British return march from Lexington and Concord, Warren exposed himself to enemy fire repeatedly in order to reach and treat the wounded.  In June (1775), after learning of the British move to Charlestown, Warren went to the Battle of Bunker Hill to offer his services as a volunteer.  He fought valiantly and was one of the last Americans to leave Breed’s Hill, but was struck in the back of the head by a musket ball and died instantly.”

We don’t need a bunch of scholars to save our nation.  We need citizens called to action, with enough of them having pulled back the curtain to discover only a wizard.  If our Founding Fathers were right about human nature, and given that past attempts to dismantle the building blocks of this nation have been halted, might liberalism be losing its game and may this be its final play?

A number of questions written out on note cards by attendees were addressed by Dr. Mark Spalding in the question and answer period that followed:

1)  Concern expressed about the liberal-minded younger generation?  Answer:  The younger generation has always been more liberal and have always questioned authority.  No different now than in the past.  In Benjamin Franklin’s time, 1/3 were patriots; 1/3 Tories; and 1/3 didn’t care.

2)  The class warfare issue as cause of lasting harm to nation?   Answer:  European class warfare does not work in American.  America is not based on class division.  Belief still exists that with hard work and struggle one can better himself.  Consider the sweet Nebraska “corn husker” deal?  Even though it would have benefited Nebraskans, the citizens of Nebraska disapproved of it, rejecting its favored treatment.

3)  About candidates addressing moral principles?    Answer:  This nation’s future is in jeopardy.  Although deep ethical questions cannot be forgotten, pre-election debate must focus on issues that will save this nation.  Economic problems are paramount right now, such as entitlements and long-term debt.  Moral principles can be addressed when the battle has been fought and won and this nation is in the process of being rebuilt.

4)  About thinking strategically?   Answer:  There are a vast number of issues to be addressed.  Every battle does not start at the same time.  There is much to be done, but if the big things are not decided rightly, other things won’t matter.  Moral issues cannot be allowed to fall by the wayside, but as with the hard left orientation of education, it represents a long-term battle rather than an immediate battle.

5)  About utilizing the media and its left-wing bent?  Answer:  Newspapers and the major media are declining.  You-tube and the Internet are now working in our favor.

6)  As moderator, Steve Debuhr fielded the last question to Dr. Spalding relative to his work done outside of The Heritage Foundation?  Dr. Spalding spoke of his activity on Capitol Hill with legislators and how he has collaborated many times with Wisconsin House representative, Paul Ryan, in drafting policy.

Steve Debuhr closed the session by reminding the attendees that it is necessary to come to the fore to help change the direction of our nation, and how there are many equally as passionate individuals across this nation as those who were present at the Chicago Heritage Foundation event.

As we face yet another national crises, The Heritage Foundation must serve as our guide to action through its publication of reports issued by experts on topics that are important to this nation’s survival.  It is a crisis that must be won or this nation will go the way of Europe, realized by   the unraveling and  abandonment of this nation’s democratic roots as set forth by our Founding Fathers.

Resulting will be the failure of our “little social experiment” known as the United States.  She will fall by the wayside and become irrelevant as an important player in the world, as has been the fate of other great nations before her.


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