Reclaiming America’s Virtue, by Emery McClendon

America is declining in both morality and virtue.

Our society has become overwhelmed by people who have no values, low expectations or wish to take no personal responsibility.

Emery McClendon

Emery McClendon

In order for our nation to survive, we must remain true to our nation’s founding principles and be involved in civic responsibility. That is what our Founders intend for us to do to ensure we kept our republic strong.

People with evil intent or a lack of morals must be kept in check by those of us who believe in sound ethics and principles.

Our Founders drove home these points repeatedly. Benjamin Franklin said: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” James Madison added: “To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtues in the people is a chimerical [imaginary] idea.”

It’s clear that virtue is a trait that keeps a people and a nation strong. It also saves us from tyrannical leaders by keeping them in check.

Civics is based on both virtue and personal responsibility. Both should be taught in the home by families, and then reenforced in other surroundings such as churches and schools.

These traits should dominate a society, and they should be the norm. Lawlessness and bad behavior should never be allowed to rule.

It’s important that these qualities trickle upward, and that those who represent us and serve on our behalf are held accountable for their decisions.

We must never forget that our virtues are based on natural law. They come from our Creator and not from the government. And even though they are written in our hearts, they must be taught to us from an early age and reenforced throughout our lifetimes.

It is also our duty to stay engaged in our communities’ affairs and in government. We have a representative government, and our voices play an important part of the process.

Recently we have seen a decline in citizen participation by those who hold the notion of good values. We have observed a corresponding rise in violent behavior and in values that do not reflect our founding principles. Unfortunately, that brings us to a point of moral decline and lowering of good community standards. This results in a loss of respect for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Instead of seeking the American Dream, too many people have drifted toward government dependency and socialism. As a result, freedom and liberty are traded for perceived security.

Freedom lost can never be regained, and freedom should never be sacrificed for false security.

We must get back to the basics in America. We must remember that freedom isn’t free. Freedom requires a constant safeguarding, lest we will lose what we cherish most – our ability to live as the free human beings God intended for us to be.

Because we are flawed, we tend to increase our own power at the expense of others. Our Founders understood the importance of preserving the principle of limited government, through shared powers and checks and balances.

They knew that it wouldn’t be easy, and that flawed individuals would find it difficult to live productively with one another. Yet they also knew that sound principles and a strong Constitution would go a long way in helping the American experiment succeed.

Are we willing to continue to work to that end?

It’s time for us to look at the big picture and resecure our destiny as a nation.

It begins with the family and spreads to our communities – and then nationwide. It takes education and constant reinforcement. We must instill virtue and civics into our children’s minds so that they can carry on our legacy.

It’s time to get back to basics, America, because our future depends on it.


Emery McClendon, a member of the Project 21 national advisory council, is a tea party organizer in northern Indiana.

New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.