The American Founders Knew A Virtuous Republic Requires Virtuous People

“The American Founders Knew a Virtuous Republic…”…the key word being “knew.” Here is Mike Sabo writing at The Federalist:

Incredibly, it has become controversial to argue the founding founders supported natural rights and the need to cultivate moral citizenry. In the ‘The Political Theory of the American Founding,’ Thomas G. West offers a convincing and necessary corrective to modern scholarship.

“Does this nation in its maturity still cherish the faith in which it was conceived and raised? Does it still hold those ‘truths to be self-evident’?”

This is the pivotal question the political philosopher Leo Strauss raised in the opening pages of his most well-known book, Natural Right and History. Quoting part of the famous second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, Strauss implied that the knowledge of founding principles and continued belief in their truth were vital to the success of the American experiment in self-government.

But if recent findings are any indication, Americans’ acquaintance with the founders’ principles and practices seems to be at a nadir. According to a report of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a majority of college graduates can’t recall “the substance of the First Amendment, or the origin of the separation of powers.” Perhaps most alarmingly, “nearly 10% say that Judith Sheindlin—‘Judge Judy’—is on the Supreme Court.” A big part of the problem seems to stem from the fact that of the 1,100 “liberal arts colleges and universities” surveyed, just “18%” require students to take a course on American history or government before graduation.

Though certainly more classes and study are necessary to correct these glaring deficiencies, scholar Thomas G. West suggests that the problems go much deeper. While professors are undoubtedly intelligent, he argues that their views on America—especially regarding our nation’s founding—have some serious flaws.

Read more: The Federalist

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