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Dr. Kevin Roberts lays out 10 principles to save America

Published in Blog on November 29, 2023 by Jakob Fay

Dr. Kevin Roberts, who recently endorsed Convention of States and announced The Heritage Foundation’s monumental support, enjoys years of experience in conservative policy-making. The nation’s premier conservative think tank, Heritage was ranked for three consecutive years as the No. 1 think tank in the world for “Significant Impact on Public Policy.” Needless to say, the organization and its scholars, including Dr. Roberts, are well acquainted with the modern conservative movement, grasping both its strengths and weaknesses.  

In a recent address to the Steamboat Institute Freedom Conference, the president of Heritage pointed out that our modern mode of politics, bombastic, snide, and vitriolic, “poses a unique threat to conservatism.” He cautioned against allowing ourselves, as conservatives, to be swept away in the furious tide of political outrage, which he argued is fundamentally opposed to true conservatism’s roots in gratitude.

“American politics today is increasingly defined by personalities and superficial partisanship,” he said. “From social media click-bait to cable news shout-fests to paid campaign influencers whose antics hurt our cause, our national discourse seems more designed to hunt heretics than win converts.”

In order to resist the temptations of this wayward political mania (he admits it can be “momentarily satisfying”), Roberts proposed 10 fundamental principles “we must agree on… that make conservatives conservative.”

1. The primacy of the family

The family, Roberts argued, is and forever must be “the basic unit of community, cooperation, and ordered liberty.” He pointed out that as the left in America has undermined marriage and life, many Americans have retreated from the primacy of the family, making the conservative defense of such all the more imperative.

“Can we really be surprised that a nation dismissing family bonds finds itself in a crisis of loneliness, isolation, addiction, and mental illness?” he asked.

2. Gratitude

“Hate cannot drive out hate,” Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. famously declared. Kevin Roberts would agree: “Conservatism must resist the temptation to answer the left’s outrage addiction with revenge and resentment of our own. Rather, we must overwhelm it with gratitude. Gratitude for our history and traditions, gratitude for those who came before us, and gratitude to our Maker for the blessings of liberty He bestowed upon this nation.”

3. American exceptionalism

Speaking of gratitude, if we are not appreciative of our nation’s founding and first principles, what exactly are we fighting to conserve?

“The left’s fundamental project is to undo the American founding,” Roberts observed. “The right’s, therefore, must be to defend it and secure its myriad blessings for ourselves and our posterity.”

4. Moral virtue

Moral virtue not only exists, he said, but society also has an absolute duty to promote it. He cautioned against the prevalent postmodern strain of supposed moral neutrality, arguing that, “mankind cannot be happy outside of moral virtue. Faith, hope, and charity are not simply good manners but the very fuel on which our souls run.”

5. God-given rights

When inalienable rights come from God, they are distributed equally; when they come from the government, they are granted selectively, often to an elite, favored few. “For all their talk about ‘democracy,’ the left utterly rejects human equality,” Roberts contends, suggesting that, instead, the left means for us to look to a government construct for endowment rather than the Creator.

6. Subsidiarity

“The centralization of power is always and everywhere the left’s obsession.” Accordingly, “conservatives must redouble our commitment to… the moral and constitutional principle that says problems should be addressed by the competent authority closest to them.”

As Convention of States would say, decisions are best made as close to home as possible.

7. Property rights and free enterprise are moral

These topics might seem almost passé in today’s political climate, but they are vital, nonetheless. Dr. Roberts makes the compelling case that capitalism is the single greatest defense against what he calls the Great Awokening—the proliferation of “woke” ideals in the business world. In fact, he argues that corporate America’s woke infatuation, which values corporate credit scores over consumer values, is inherently anti-capitalist.

“Their problem is not that businesses like Target and Bud Light can choose to promote woke values. Their problem is that mere people have the economic power to punish and reward them for it.”

8. Eternal truths

Eternal truths are those realities from which successful political values are derived and against which just societies are measured.

“Established in our Christian values, human beings have free will and fallen natures. Men and women are inherently different and complementary. Children do best growing up with their married parents, and both men and women are happier, healthier, and more prosperous when they get and stay married.”

According to Dr. Roberts, these truths, among others, formulate the eternal bedrock upon which human societies can flourish. 

9. The nation-state

Yes, we’re a melting pot, and yes, our ancestors came from every corner of the world—however, our civic duty as Americans is to lead America into the future. Therefore, we must not surrender our country “to be governed by international elites and institutions like the United Nations and the World Health Organization.” Rather, we ought to always remember that this is, in fact, our country—a country of, by, and for the people.

10. Ordered liberty

Far too often, modern Americans, ignorant of John Locke’s famous adage, confuse liberty for license. In the last of his ten principles, Dr. Roberts warns against making this costly miscalculation:

“Licentious living no more represents ‘freedom’ than mindlessly banging piano keys represents ‘music,’” he reasons. “Only when our lives are ordered toward the good, the beautiful, and the true do our individual lives and broader communities flourish. Neither selfish license nor woke tyranny can make America happy. Only individual freedom, grounded in moral virtue and interpersonal responsibilities, can achieve that.”

Concluding his address, he affirms his confidence that if conservatives unite around these 10 principles, they will win the fight for the country. In his recent Convention of States endorsement, he suggested that calling an Article V convention may be an indispensable step in that process.

“Washington, D.C. is fundamentally broken and it's past time we look outside the Swamp for answers,” he stated “Providentially, the Founding Fathers wrote Article V into the U.S. Constitution as a backstop to the tyrannical rule we see from the Federal Government today. We have a limited window of opportunity left to save our Republic. I call on states to pass the Convention of the States resolution, which just might be our last best hope."

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