With the national debt continuing to soar, bloated government getting further entrenched and the nuclear American family in decline, America’s brightest days might seem to be behind her. But Heritage Foundation President and CEO Jim DeMint says our nation can rise stronger than ever simply by following the proven course that triggered greatness in the first place.
DeMint served in both the U.S. House and Senate before resigning in 2013 and taking the helm at Heritage. In his new book, “Falling in Love with America Again,” DeMint says he decided to apply his efforts to the private sector because making real change happen within the government proved to be very difficult.
With a national debt well north of $17 trillion, federal government gathering more power and families seemingly facing more challenges than ever, DeMint says it’s a fair question as to whether America can right the ship.
“An intellectual analysis of where we are would say we probably passed the tipping point. Technically, it’s going to be very difficult to turn around. That’s my head analysis. My heart analysis is that I know the spirit of freedom still runs deep within the hearts of millions and millions of Americans. I also know that this country has been blessed by God, it’s in His hands and that spiritual revival is still very possible in our country,” said DeMint.
“We’ve got a better chance of turning our country around than our founders did, winning a war of independence against Britain. The odds have been against us before. We can turn it around but only if people understand what’s wrong,” he said.
“If they continue to think, ‘Well, the Democrats aren’t doing it right in Washington, now lets try the Republicans’ version of national education or national health care,’ it doesn’t matter who’s in charge. The country is too big to manage and it was never intended to manage all the things it’s doing in Washington,” said DeMint.
In his book, DeMint highlights limited government approaches to issues ranging from health care to education to energy. The common thread among his proposals is the value of approaching issues as “small platoons” rather than in top-down ways through a growing federal government.
“Whether you’re looking at businesses, organizations or the government itself, the real innovations and solutions tend to come from the ground up. America was built that way. We were built from the ground up. We were a very decentralized country from the very beginning. The whole point of the Constitution was to keep us that way, with a very limited federal government and a vibrant, competitive system between the states,” said DeMint.
DeMint contends that as America moves away from those principle, we lose a big part of our identity. He says engaging in small platoons, as families, churches or other community groups is a proven path to success and is still the key to making America what we want it to be.
“As we become more like centrally-planned European countries, America is losing its uniqueness and we are losing a lot of the things that made us great and prosperous in the first place,” said DeMint.
“But most of the book is about little platoons still at work all over the country, creating better schools, developing our energy on private lands, even figuring out how to insure themselves without insurance companies for health care. These examples of success are all around us. The federal government continues to try to replace them, to punish them and to create incentives to do things the wrong way, in spite of all the evidence that what’s working in America is still coming from the ground up,” said DeMint.
Another critical component to a stable, growing and thriving society in DeMint’s eyes is strong families. He says big government programs have been a disaster for the American family.
“Unfortunately, the government, in its attempt to help the poor, have actually created more poverty and broken up families. By doing that, they create inter-generational poverty and many other social pathologies of drug use, high school dropouts and incarceration. A lot of that comes straight from broken families,” said DeMint.
DeMint knows first-hand that single-parent homes are not always avoidable, but he says the federal government is actively undermining the traditional family structure.
“I grew up in a home with a single mom, but we don’t need to arrange our charitable welfare programs in a way that means a mother can get help if she doesn’t have a husband in the home. So (government programs) discourage marriage and family formation. We seem to be doing everything we can at the federal level to discredit the traditional family, which all the statistics show you if a child grows up in a home with a mom and dad, they have the best chance of succeeding and very little chance of ever living in poverty despite where they started,” said Demint.
The 2014 midterm elections could be pivotal towards steering America in the right direction, according to DeMint. However, he says many states with conservative leaders are already proving that good policies at the state level are making life better for all citizens, especially the less fortunate.
“Look at what (Gov. Bobby) Jindal’s doing in Louisiana (on education). Look at what they’ve done in Florida with more choices. And look at the fact the children who benefit the most are often poor minority children, the ones they said that choice would hurt,” he said.
DeMint says when liberal policies run unchallenged we get crises like Detroit, but limited government approaches lead to well-run governments and economic success, such as in North Dakota’s energy production and the effort of Texas leaders to keep regulations few and taxes low.
“The answers are all around us and we don’t have to win all the battles in Washington. We just have to move the battles out of Washington and let the states compete. Once we do that, I think you’re going to see America return very quickly,” said DeMint.