Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Next Steps?

President Reagan’s Farewell Address might be a good place to start. A sample:

Finally, there is a great tradition of warnings in presidential farewells, and I’ve got one that’s been on my mind for some time. But oddly enough it starts with one of the things I’m proudest of in the past eight years: the resurgence of national pride that I called the new patriotism. This national feeling is good, but it won’t count for much, and it won’t last unless it’s grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge.


An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over thirty-five or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn’t get these things from your family, you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea of the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed, you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the midsixties.


But now, we’re about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven’t reinstitutionalized it. We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom - freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rate. It’s fragile; it needs protection.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Brilliant. I hadn't read this before, and I guess I forgot I heard it. Informed patriotism indeed.

Reagan's Farewell Address is a truly great speech and Richard Adams' snippet is just one facet of the diamond. Combined with his First Inaugeral, Reagan's Farewell Address presents a powerful vision of the basic decency of a constitutionalist market oriented republic and the potential for combining personal goodness with good citizenship in such a society.


Note to readers: part of the grieving process is for neocons to a) indicate that the defeat could have and should have been worse, and b) quote founders and Reagan for consolation. Please allow 2-4 weeks of that before returning to the regularly scheduled foolishness.

In the last few decades better not inform people too much or the partiotism may be unfounded. I would like a return to founding principles...but that's just not being prudent now is it.

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