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The Patriot’s Guide: What You Can Do to Restore Liberty in America

What is The Heritage Foundation?

Since its founding in 1973, The Heritage Foundation has been developing and promoting conservative policies in Washington, based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

We believe the principles and ideas of the American Founding are worth conserving and renewing. As policy entrepreneurs, we believe the most effective solutions are consistent with those ideas and principles. Our vision is to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.

Heritage’s staff pursues this mission by performing timely, accurate research on key policy issues and effectively marketing these findings to our primary audiences: members of Congress, key congressional staff members, policymakers in the executive branch, the nation’s news media, and the academic and policy communities.

Governed by an independent Board of Trustees, The Heritage Foundation is an independent, tax-exempt institution. Heritage relies on the private financial support of the general public – individuals, foundations, and corporations – for its income, and it accepts no government funds and performs no contract work. Heritage is one of the nation’s largest public policy research organizations. More than 670,000 individual Members make it the most broadly supported think tank in America.

The Patriot’s Guide: What You Can Do to Restore Liberty in America

America stands at a crossroads. Down the left fork is government intrusion into every aspect of our lives, threatening what remains of our freedoms, our rights, and our prosperity. It casts a bleak shadow on our future, that of our children, and that of future generations.

Down the right fork is the road to recovery. It is fraught with uncertainty – dangerous turns, dead-end side roads, and unmarked precipices. But it is the road we must take if we want to reclaim our future. It is the proven path that will restore America and get our country back on track.

The choice has never been so stark and clear. Never in recent memory have any president and Congress attempted to move so far, so fast to radically transform our country. We face an administration and Congress intent on imposing vast new regulatory regimes against our collective will and engaging in an unprecedented, budget-busting spending spree. And while threatening economic stability at home, the administration pursues a foreign policy of indulging our enemies and undermining national defense.

What we are witnessing today, however, is but a symptom of the problem. The Left has been engaged in a century-long attack on the first principles of America, the Constitution, and the culture that necessarily undergirds freedom.

Americans are wrapped in an intricate web of government policies and procedures. Our federal government, once limited to certain core functions, now dominates virtually every area of American life. States, localities, and private institutions are increasingly submerged by national programs.

Government authority is all but unquestioned, seemingly restricted only by expediency and the occasional budget constraint. Congress passes massive pieces of legislation with little serious deliberation, including bills that are written in secret and unread before the vote.

The disastrous result is an education system that upholds mediocrity in the name of relativism; an ever-expanding and centralized government, unmoored from constitutional limits; judges openly making laws and shaping society based on pop philosophy rather than serious jurisprudence; and growing confusion over America’s legitimate role in the world, made all the more apparent by the fundamental threat posed by radical Islamists.

If we continue along this path, our nation will be reduced to a bankrupt shell of its former self: overtaxed, centralized, bureaucratic, secular, and weak. The state will be unlimited, the private sector a tepid mockery, the institutions of civil society banished from the public square. The end point of this trend is to become just another socialized nation like those of Europe – a nation in perpetual decline.

In their latest zeal for more power, however, liberals have overplayed their hand. By being so brazen and reckless, they have opened the eyes of a nation that has been too long asleep. We have been shaken out of our collective apathy and are beginning to recognize the imperative to save our Republic.

This is our clarion call. We must change direction now, before it is too late. We must dedicate ourselves to putting our country firmly back on track.

We must recall the nation to its first principles, reinvigorate American constitutionalism, and revive the sturdy virtues required for self-government. We must restore the principles of America’s Founders to their proper role in the public and political discourse, influencing public policy and reforming government to reflect constitutional limits.

We must rebuild and unify a robust conservatism around, and in defense of, these core principles and identify and develop current and future policymakers, opinion-makers, and leaders who understand, articulate, and will promote and defend these principles.

Our vision, building on the great successes of the modern conservative movement, must now be to save America by reclaiming its truths and its promises and by conserving its liberating principles for ourselves and our posterity, making America once again the bright beacon of hope that has moved and inspired citizens from every corner of the globe for over two centuries.

What You Can Do Right Now to Save Your Country

Get off the sidelines. Jump in and participate. Fully acknowledge that this is a battle for the heart, soul, and future of our nation. Accept the lesson Americans of countless past generations have taught: if you want to get something done, you have to do it yourself. Commit to taking action.

Rediscover America’s Constitutional Principles

The Declaration of Independence defines the truths we hold: that all men are created equal and endowed with unalienable rights. The United States Constitution and its prescription for limited, decentralized government gave us the framework for developing what became the most successful experiment in government in the history of the world. In their efforts to centralize government and thereby wrest control, the Left has sought, with a great deal of success, to undermine and distort our understanding of America’s core principles of liberty and limited government.

Conservatives can win countless elections, but unless and until we reorient our country to these principles, we will continue down the path of societal decline.


The future of liberty depends on reclaiming America’s core principles. To shore up your understanding of these principles and communicate them to others, The Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org) has developed a number of useful resources:

  • We Still Hold These Truths"The single best introduction to the political thought of the American Founding," according to The Weekly Standard, is We Still Hold These Truths, by Matthew Spalding. The book brings to life 10 core principles that define us as a nation. It guides the reader through an enlightening tour of America’s founding principles and how they are under attack – and makes the case for reclaiming those principles and our future. A companion study guide and video series make this a great resource for book clubs and events. Go to www.WeStillHoldTheseTruths.org to order.
  • Already have the We Still Hold These Truths book? Order the We Still Hold These Truths Leader's Guide. The leader's guide is a handy resource to solidify and clarify the book's teaching and to facilitate a fresh study of core concepts long overlooked but once again at the heart of public debate.
  • Guide to ConstitutionUnder the guidance of former Attorney General Edwin Meese, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution brings together more than 100 of the nation’s best legal experts to provide the first-ever line-by-line examination of the complete Constitution and its contemporary meaning. This enlightening work is indispensable for informed citizens and students of the Constitution. Order for yourself or your local school or library at www.heritage.org/bookstore.
  • FP TrioAn ongoing series of occasional short papers and booklets, the First Principles Series is a terrific resource covering a broad range of important topics, from Reading the Right Books to Why States? The Challenge of Federalism to How to Read the Federalist Papers. Order at www.heritage.org/bookstore.

Arm Yourself with Facts on Key Issues

Make use of Heritage’s vast store of resources to stay informed on critical issues, educate your family and friends, and encourage policymakers to pursue constructive change. Heritage’s Leadership for America campaign covers domestic, economic, legal, and foreign policy issues. The following resources are all available at www.heritage.org:


The freedom and security of Americans depend on America’s global leadership. Without American leadership the world will become a more dangerous place – for Americans and for freedom. Heritage makes a forceful case for American leadership with a number of incisive books, essays, and online tools.

  • UnderstandingAmericaRead the Understanding America series explores how the United States’ commitment to the universal truths of human equality and the right to self-government—as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence—requires a vigilant defense of the cause of liberty, both at home and abroad. The series covers topics like sovereignty, isolationism, diplomacy, and more. Visit heritage.org/UnderstandingAmerica to read or download all the booklets
  • Liberty's HopeRead Liberty’s Best Hope: American Leadership for the 21st Century, by Kim R. Holmes, order at www.heritage.org/bookstore. The book provides insight into our country’s past and a vision for the future that are sure to spark discussions among conscientious citizens.
  • Getting America RightRead Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today, by Heritage President Edwin J. Feulner and Townhall.com’s former chairman, Doug Wilson available at www.heritage.org/bookstore. Where did we take a wrong turn? Government spending is out of control, waves of illegal immigration endanger our security and our American identity, American businesses are fleeing overseas, and terrorism threatens us more than ever. How do we deal with these crises when our leaders refuse to? You’ll learn by reading Feulner and Wilson’s unique and practical six-point plan as outlined in Getting America Right.
  • Which country in the world now enjoys the most economic freedom? The answer might surprise you. See Heritage’s Index of Economic Freedom at www.heritage.org/index.
  • ConundrumRead ConUNdrum: The Limits of the United Nations and the Search for Alternatives, edited by Brett D. Schaefer, available at www.heritage.org/bookstore. Billions of U.S. tax dollars are invested in the U.N. each year, yet U.S. efforts to improve the effectiveness of the organization have little effect. This groundbreaking book, with a foreword by Ambassador John R. Bolton, offers thoughtful analyses of the U.N. system’s many weaknesses and failings, and it outlines practical steps for reform to improve the U.N.’s role in major areas, from peace and security to human rights, development, global health, and a sustainable environment.


American education is in a state of crisis. Every year, millions of children pass through America’s schools without receiving a quality education that prepares them to succeed in life, to compete in the increasingly competitive global economy, and to maintain the blessings and responsibilities of a free society. Heritage is on the front lines of this battle and provides resources for parents as well as policymakers to help us take back our schools.

  • Choices_in_education Choice in Education provides an interactive look at school choice programs in America. Scroll over the map to find out more information about school choice in your state or click on the state for additional information about the different types of school choice including public school choice, private school choice, charter schools and online learning.
  • Take ActionThere's a new tide in America. A wave favoring a return to federalism, built upon reasonable fears that the federal government has gotten too big; that Washington had overstepped its bounds. See how you can take action and prevent the federal government from taking over your state's education system. Visit heritage.org/standards.


Americans are increasingly concerned about energy. Demand is increasing faster than are supplies, while much of the world’s oil is delivered in a restrictive market dominated by unstable or hostile nations. Meanwhile, stringent environmental regulations hamper innovations in U.S. energy exploration, production, and delivery. This is driven, at least in part, by American misunderstandings and myths about energy, the environment, and market forces. Heritage clears the air and offers solid proposals.

  • Dig in and get the facts on why nuclear energy works in several key studies from Heritage’s energy policy team.


The entrepreneurial spirit has been a key source of America’s greatness since the nation’s founding over 200 years ago. In addition to being the primary engine of our economic growth and prosperity, the entrepreneurial spirit is inextricably linked to the inalienable rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, including liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Heritage explains how these are critical ingredients to a thriving nation.

  • Red_Tape_RisingRead our latest Red Tape Rising report. The burden of regulation on Americans increased at an alarming rate in fiscal year 2010. Fight back against red tape by reading our special report.
  • BG Red Tape Rising Tales of the Red Tape is a special series on The Foundry that exposes some of the more egregious federal regulations that have multiplied by an unprecedented degree in the past year. Americans are now besieged by the torrent of do’s and don’ts that places an unsustainable burden on the economy and erodes Americans’ most fundamental freedoms. Read all of the Tales of the Red Tape at http://blog.heritage.org/tag/tales-of-the-red-tape/.


Entitlements are the greatest domestic challenge the nation faces. The middle-class retirement programs, including Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, will cause federal spending to jump from the historical average of 20 percent of the economy to 30 percent by 2033. This tsunami of spending is a major threat to limited government because it runs on autopilot, with automatic increases locked in by each program’s governing laws. Heritage brings this issue home with a number of eye-opening tools and studies.

  • In our popular annual Budget Chart Book, you’ll see the federal budget in graphic detail. Clearly our nation is on an unsustainable fiscal path – you can sound the alarm by viewing and sharing information about our massive national debt in pictures. Visit our latest Budget Chart Book to view, download, email, and share this collection of easy-to-understand charts. Go to heritage.org/BudgetChartBook .
  • Slay_The_BeastCreated specifically for the millennial generation, Slay the Beast: How You Can Save Us from the Massive Debt features the fast-paced Q&A conversation of two Heritage experts who address what young people can do to secure their feature. In 20 pages packed with photos and charts, this booklet presents a relevant, urgent message on our fiscal crisis—and action steps for the next generation to make a difference.
  • The Debt Limit The Debt Limit: Made Simple is an illustrated five minute video that takes you to the United Estates – a gated community in sunny Florida – to help you understand the impact of Congress’s decision to annually raise our nation’s debt limit without addressing the out-of control spending that keeps us buried in debt. Visit youtube.com/watch?v=7yJRci2pARk.


These two key institutions are foundational to American freedom and the common good. Religious institutions and individuals form the backbone of America’s thriving civil society, providing for the welfare of individuals more effectively than government programs ever have. We need to improve the capacity of civil society institutions – particularly churches, community groups, and networks – to support the family in its central social role and thereby pose an alternative to calls for increased government intervention.

  • FamilyFacts.org provides data on family and religious practice and analysis of their role in maintaining civil society in America. Find charts, analysis, in-depth reports, and more with this great resource. Get the facts at FamilyFacts.org.
  • Culture 4 FreedomPoverty. Addiction. Homelessness. These problems are serious and complex. Passion alone won’t solve them. What kind of policies best advance human dignity? The way we answer these questions will determine the character of our culture and the well-being of our communities, especially for the most vulnerable and at risk. To find out more about transforming lives in need and creating a culture for freedom, check out our materials at www.Culture4Freedom.com.
  • EEH 4 The Economy Hits Home booklet series breaks down key economic issues facing our nation today and explores how they affect family and society. Topics include economic growth, entitlements, environmental policy, poverty, regulations, booklet series breaks down key economic issues facing our nation today and explores how they affect family and society. Topics include economic growth, entitlements, environmental policy, poverty, regulations, and international trade. Learn how free market policies and a limited, constitutional role for government are the ideal conditions for creating a family-friendly society.
  • Invisible ColorWhat do marriage, family, and religion have to do with property, free exchange, and profit? Washington policy circles separate these as "social" and "economic" issues, but for millions of Americans the dividing lines fade away in the reality of everyday life. Together these core social and economic ideas form the foundation of American liberty. Indivisible is a unique set of essays by well-known social and economic conservatives – each writing from the other’s perspective – to show the interdependence of these principles in advancing freedom and human dignity.

Healthcare HEALTH CARE

Health care is a huge and growing sector of the U.S. economy. The United States currently spends $2.6 trillion on health care, roughly 17 percent of the gross domestic product. Additionally, the government is responsible for approximately 50 cents out of every dollar spent on health care because of huge and rapidly growing federal and state health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid. The result of so much government control is that health care is one of the most highly regulated sectors of the American economy. Government financing means government control, and government control means less personal freedom. Heritage has the answers.

  • To dive deeper into this unpopular health legislation, check out The Case Against Obamacare. In 15 detailed policy papers, Heritage experts provide in-depth insights on the new health care law—and identify key principles for getting health care right.


The 21st century will be a dangerous time if America fails to protect itself and its allies. The nation must recommit itself to living the principles that made this nation safe, free, and prosperous. A complacent America, either at home or abroad, is the greatest threat to a peaceful and productive future for the United States and its allies. America must have the means to remain engaged in the world – to act proactively to protect the nation and its citizens from freedom’s enemies.

Rule of Law RULE OF LAW

The American justice system suffers from a prevailing judicial philosophy that treats judging as politics by another name; a dangerous trend to "overcriminalize" – that is, to criminalize conduct that is socially and economically beneficial or is better regulated by the civil justice system or administrative means; and a civil litigation system run amok by frivolous lawsuits and outrageous damage awards. Heritage provides a number of resources to tackle this problem.

  • One Nation Under ArrestWith first-hand stories from victims of overcriminalization, One Nation Under Arrest sheds light on how crazy laws, rogue prosecutors and activist judges are a threat to your liberty. This in-depth book also highlights a major effort to reverse this trend, returning criminal law to its proper role in society: to ensure public safety and protect the innocent. Order your copy today at heritage.org/bookstore.
  • The power of video brings to life One Nation Under Arrest’s dramatic stories in vivid detail. Indy 500 Winner Bobby Unser reveals how he survived sub-zero blizzard conditions… only to get slapped with criminal charges from the Forest Service. In another story, agents in SWAT gear showed up to threaten scientist Krister Evertson—who supposedly did not label a package he mailed. Watch these videos and more at heritage.org/OneNationUnderArrest.
  • Rule of Law encompasses many important issues including immigration, unions, junk lawsuits, voting rights, judicial activism, and more. Bookmark heritage.org/RuleOfLaw to follow the latest news, blogs, and research on these issues.

Get Involved

The essence of American self-government is to be involved in the life of our nation. Most of the time that focus is on our own families, neighborhoods, and communities – as it should be. As a result, Americans are some of the most hardworking, churchgoing, affluent, and generous people in the world. Yet self-government requires sustained civic involvement at the state and national levels of government as well. Sometimes the responsibilities of citizenship become a calling that raises our attention and demands our involvement and informed participation in the larger cause of our country. This is one of those times. Now that you understand what is at stake and what must be done, jump in with both feet, in whatever ways you can.

  • Know What Is Happening: 1) Find out what your representatives think; 2) read legislation at www.Thomas.gov and encourage your representatives to do so as well; and 3) find organizations that follow the issues you are especially concerned about, with the Policy Experts guide.
  • Voice Your Opinion: 1) Vote; 2) write letters and comment online; 3) contact representatives and senators; 4) call radio shows; and 5) participate in local town hall meetings, tea party activism, and local assemblies.
  • Encourage Discussion: 1) Start a blog or website; 2) challenge liberals with fact-based arguments; 3) encourage the media to represent conservative principles; 4) encourage candidates and elected representatives to learn more about conservative ideas; 5) get conservative editorials and letters in your local newspaper; and 6) support teachers, educational programs, and schools that teach the truth about America and its principles.
  • Spread the Word: 1) Talk to your family and friends; 2) join social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter; 3) bring issues you care about to your civic, social, church, or business groups; and 4) celebrate America’s heritage and distribute copies of the Pocket Constitution.
  • Join the Conservative Movement: 1) Support think tanks and institutions fighting for conservative principles and polices; and 2) if you are a student, apply for an internship, such as the semester-long program at The Heritage Foundation. This program is designed to foster young leaders and help them grow as part of the larger conservative movement.

Join with more than 670,000 other proud conservatives and become a Member of America’s preeminent conservative organization, The Heritage Foundation.

  • Take advantage of www.heritage.org’s countless free resources on virtually any policy issue:
  • Sign up at www.heritage.org/newsletters for Heritage’s daily email updates – the Morning Bell and the Heritage Hotsheet – to be informed on the latest issues.
  • Factsheets – one-page summaries of issues.
  • www.PolicyExperts.org – access to experts and issues.
  • www.InsiderOnline.org – free information about virtually any public policy topic.
  • InsiderOnline Tool Kit – free how-to guides on Internet marketing, protocol, event planning, and much more.
  • Conservative Community – portal for access to information and tools of value to movement conservatives, including:

~ Research

~ Policy Experts

~ Lectures, Seminars, and Events

Check out Heritage Community Committees. (Go to www.myheritage.org/committees.) There are 13 regional committees in metropolitan areas around the country. Each holds seminars and panel discussions on topics of interest throughout the year.

Stand and Be Counted

The battle for the future of our country has been joined. As we engage in this fight, we must be absolutely clear about one thing: this is not a battle of Republicans versus Democrats, though many of the players adopt those party positions. It is not a battle of conservative versus liberal, though many of the players identify themselves with those titles. It is not even a battle of Right versus Left, though we speak of it in those terms. It is really a battle of right versus wrong, of self-government versus the absolute state, of liberty versus despotism.

The debate over America – what it means and what we believe – is the conflict of our time, and we must prevail, for we are the world’s last best hope.

Join us in this noble cause, and we will prevail.

Free Pocket Constitution

The future of liberty depends on reclaiming America’s first principles, and The Heritage Foundation is leading the call to awaken our country and get it back on course. With our pocket-sized copies of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, we seek to remind Americans that when you govern according to conservative principles, America flourishes!

To order your free pocket-sized Declaration of Independence and Constitution, please go to www.AskHeritage.org and click on the "Free Pocket Constitution" tab.

Become a Member of The Heritage Foundation

We also invite you to support our work by becoming a Member of The Heritage Foundation. Please go to www.heritage.org/donate to see your options and membership levels, or call (800) 546-2843.

It’s Time to Fight Back!


As millions of Americans concerned about the direction of our country are seeking new ways to get involved in fighting for America’s future, The Heritage Foundation has launched a new grassroots advocacy group – Heritage Action for America – designed to ramp up the political heat on your representatives in Congress.

At the grassroots level, Heritage Action for America will join forces with individuals and organizations and mobilize through calls to members of Congress, appearances at town hall meetings, and visits to elected officials.

In Washington, Heritage Action will launch paid political ad campaigns on Capitol Hill and in targeted congressional districts and carry out direct lobbying for the cause of liberty.

In the media and online, Heritage Action will make strategic use of traditional media as well as online media and social networks.

Learn more, join Heritage Action for America, and sign up for email updates at www.HeritageForAmerica.org.

Heritage Action for America is an independent 501(c)(4) organization.