July 24, 2020 - Friday
Lost and Founders: America's Answers in the Past
July 24, 2020
Today's Americans aren't the first ones to wonder if our country has lost its way. Abraham Lincoln used to worry, when the generation of the founders had died out, that we'd lost the living memory we'd need to carry on their legacy. "I think we're back there again," Katharine Gorka says. And if this nation is going to survive, we need to take a trip down memory lane, she insists, and remind ourselves what made America what it is.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has spent a year doing that with his Commission on Unalienable Rights. Not surprisingly, the media is incensed at the idea, since a return to founding principles doesn't lead to the Marxist revolution they've been hoping for. The fact of the matter, Katharine told Sarah Perry on "Washington Watch," is that the people who care about the real America are the new dissidents. "I've thought a lot about our pilgrim and separatist forefathers who came from England in the in the 1500s. When that movement was building up, people [in] the minority who didn't like what was happening, they would have to gather in their houses. And they would study pamphlets and they would have intense conversations [about philosophy and religion]... And I feel like that's where we are now."
Those of us who understand the Framers' ideals, who've had the benefit of a decent civics education, we need to share that knowledge, Gorka insists. "We need to go back to our founding documents and be reminded why America is the way it is." Because right now, she says, two things are happening that are "equally destructive." "The first is we are not teaching our founding anymore. Young Americans don't understand what was so revolutionary in the thinking of the founders. I mean, the very idea that you create a nation built on an idea... not only that all men are created equal -- that's monumental in itself -- but that we will govern ourselves. Those two things in particular [along with the] importance of natural rights, we're not teaching. Kids don't understand what was so special about America."
And secondly, Katharine explains, "is the fact that we have replaced content-based civics with what's called action civics. Our new civics are all about teaching kids to go out and protest..." But the research shows, she warns, "shows that the vast majority of the issues that kids are going out demonstrating for are progressive or partisan Leftist issues. And the problem is, it creates group think. People aren't taught... the foundational ideas. They're simply taught go out, be passionate about something, and demonstrate for it."
But we're in the middle of a transformative event in American education. And the opportunities we have with the coronavirus lay at our feet to change what kids are learning. "I think people are waking up," Katharine says. "I think they realize that they've been complacent too long, and we're paying the price for it now with the statues and the anarchy and the violence. [More parents] are going to take their kids' education back into their own hands. And even where they're not, because they don't have the opportunity [to], I think they're going to get a lot more engaged in what's happening in schools because they're seeing the results of the education our kids have been receiving."
But we can't stop with education, she argues. Every American who cares about this country needs "to step out of [their] comfort zone and go out and defend this republic. Because being on cruise control anymore is not going to work."
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.