Government, Virtue, and Education

We institute government, the Declaration says, to secure our unalienable rights; among them is the pursuit of happiness. Elaborating upon this straightforward idea, the Preamble to the Constitution informs us that our government is to “establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty”

So government has a role, a duty to ‘promote the general welfare.’ While there is certainly an element of ambiguity to the term, it cannot be far from the duty of our lawmakers to seek the betterment, the continual improvement of the civil society upon which all republics depend.

To this end, our national government is charged with promoting personal and public virtue. This isn’t to say the Framers envisioned morality police of any sort. In fact, at the federal convention they specifically rejected an enumeration of national sumptuary laws.

But the necessity of virtue in a republic was regarded as a precondition for happiness. Pennsylvania delegate James Wilson to the 1787 federal convention: “The cultivation and improvement of the human mind is the most noble object of government.” Thomas Jefferson wrote: “I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource to be relied upon for . . . promoting the virtue and advancing the happiness of man.” From the Northwest Ordinance passed by the Confederation congress in 1787 a few months before completion of the Constitution: “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

It was precisely to facilitate the wise selection of representatives that Thomas Jefferson again and again emphasized the importance of educating the people and of fostering a way of life conducive to the development of a virtuous citizenry. The government envisioned by the statesmen of the American Revolution would have, as its highest end, the education of an enlightened body of citizens. A people covetous of liberty would keep free government.

Unfortunately, this all-important duty of government lasted little longer than the age of John Dewey. The Left understands that just as the easiest way to topple a building over time is to undermine its foundation, the slow, continuing corruption of American civil society is certain to one day collapse the republic. To undermine society, soil the education of the young. In his enormously destructive An Economic Interpretation of the United States Constitution (1913), the historian Charles Beard questioned the Framers’ intentions, and left the reader wondering if the federal convention of 1787 was nothing more than a collection of self-serving, evil capitalists. Beard’s book inaugurated an academic open hunting season on our founding principles.

Subsequent Leftists conquered K-12 teachers unions, and the dues from these unions were so successful in electing Democrats, they were rewarded with an agency of their own, the loathsome Department of Education.

Rather than uplift students, rather than inculcate the fundamental values of the Declaration and Constitution, modern education works toward the degradation of mind and spirit. Heather has Two Mommies, moral relativism, math and reading fads, Common Core, ridicule and prohibition of Christianity, all illustrate an appeal to the worst of our nature.

This devastation to the foundation of the American republic did not rise up from the people. There has never been a movement to “Make my kid stupid and raise my school taxes to pay for it.” Parents do not wish ill for their children. They do not ask school boards to inculcate their students with hatred for America. These educational horrors were incrementally forced on an unwilling public over the last hundred years.

No society works to destroy itself. When given the opportunity, the American people reject Leftist nostrums.

We can continue to pretend that the electoral process, which has given us Leftist dominance of all major institutions, can somehow magically sweep away the corruption of our children’s education. On the other hand, we can finally shout “enough is enough,” and put our masters in Washington DC on notice.

Reform can only emerge from the bottom up, the sovereign, We The People. If this republic is to be saved, it can only occur if we demand it, and the vehicle to save our once free republic is Article V.

Article V now.

Rodney Dodsworth