If the spectacle of conservative leaders approving the biggest expansion of a government social program in 40 years through Medicare "reform" isn't enough to make you question what it means to be "conservative," how about the fact that in 2003 the federal government spent a whopping $20,000 per household, or that mandatory government spending reached its highest level in U.S. history?
Those who claim to be fighting for smaller government and greater individual freedom ought to be asking themselves: In what do I believe?
This much they should know for certain: God created both freedom and order, and any attempt by man to govern others will be flawed. Governments instituted by man should exist only to uphold the freedoms and rights divinely ordered by a Creator who provided both clear guidance and the free will to individuals to chart their own destinies.
America's Founding Fathers knew these truths well. That's why, in their wisdom and foresight, they designed a framework for a country that would allow citizens to seek God on their own terms and to live peaceably in the manner of their own choosing. The pursuit of happiness, they understood, was an individual path, defined by the journeyman alone.
The men who framed the Constitution knew first-hand the vanity of any ruler who actually thinks he can mandate peace and end suffering by controlling his people. They were willing to live by, and if need be die by, the principle of "the government that governs best, governs least." In short, they understood that freedom was a concept created by God himself, and that any government that grew too large, either in size or regulations, would inevitably strangle the liberty right out of its citizens.
Our Founding Fathers also understood the inseparable relationship between personal finances and personal freedom. They created a framework for government that reflected their belief that the ability of individuals to determine how to use their own earnings is directly linked to the ability to pursue happiness. They designed a system in which the purpose of taxation was to fund the smallest government possible to meet the charge of protecting the citizenry and their God-given freedom. The idea of taking what belongs to one and giving it to another - of "redistributing income," in modern parlance - they considered immoral. For them, the purpose of taxation was, and still is, to protect freedom.
They understood the importance of free-market competition, too. They even threw a pretty lively tea party in Boston to make their point that government-mandated suppliers of anything would not be tolerated.
And they knew how crucial it was to properly define the role of property in the new nation they were creating. For the ability to own private property, to benefit from the sweat and toil of one's own hands, to pursue the needs and dreams of one's own families, and to determine how to provide charity to others, are essential elements of a free nation.
The Founders knew that if government denied any of these first principles, both individuals and the nation as a whole would suffer - and they were willing to pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to establish them for generations to come.
We need only take a quick survey of our nation's homes to see how modern American government has trampled the divine vision given the first Americans - and crippled our families as a result: Couples are penalized by taxes when they choose to marry; mothers who want to raise their own children feel forced to leave the home to make ends meet, only to see more and more of every dollar they earn going to feed the insatiable appetite of the tax beast; everything we own or buy is taxed numerous times; regulations determine what we can and cannot do with our own property; and even much of the inheritance we work so hard to leave our children upon our deaths is swallowed up by the government pet pig.
Men who would bravely fight a thief who entered their home in the dark of night complacently allow politicians to steal their earnings. Citizens who insist on choices in cars, clothes and salad dressing tune out huge new government programs that mandate - at taxpayer expense - specific services with the government as supplier. Fathers and mothers who toil and sacrifice and save for their children's future yawn and choose to watch fabricated "reality TV," ignoring the true reality that government is out of control, and the first one forced off the island in this "Survivor" series is liberty.
A great way to start is to pick up the phone and call your congressmen and senators while they are home over the holidays and suggest they have roast pork for Christmas. Tell them you've had enough of the spending, enough of the regulations, enough of the waste. Your Founding Fathers would be proud of you.
Rebecca Hagelin is a vice president of the Heritage Foundation, a research and educational think-tank whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values and a strong national defense. She is also the former vice president of communications for WorldNetDaily and her 60-second radio commentaries can be heard on the Salem Communications Network.
First appeared on WorldNetDaily.com