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Stephen Baskerville

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Re-Founding Fathers


This Sunday is Fathers' Day, but this year it will be more than celebrations involving barbecues and power tools. Fathers from throughout America will converge on Washington to protest the government-driven war against fathers. Demonstrations will also take place in the capitals of Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries.

With the increased awareness of the importance of fathers, politicians are will wax eloquent with sentimental encomiums -- and condemnations. Fathers have become a public policy issue.

Yet the politicians have not yet gone far enough. We must also recognize that the government itself is engaged in a systematic assault on fatherhood.

It is not too much to say that there is an inverse connection between the authority of fathers and the power of government. The roles once assigned fathers -- protecting and providing -- are increasingly taken over by the state. When fathers are strong, government tends to be under control. When fathers are weak, government takes over.

"If we want less government, we must have stronger families," said President Jimmy Carter, "for government steps in by necessity when families have failed." But Carter did not tell us the half of it. It follows that government has a stake in having those families fail. Government therefore has a stake in weakened fathers.

Contrary to popular belief, the fathers who will march this Sunday are not just another special interest with petty grievances. Some may give the impression of what Allan Carlson has criticized as a politics of "abstract or imaginary ‘rights’ that are divorced from a sense of duty and from the authentic human affections toward kin."

Yet Carlson’s wording describes precisely what fathers' voices are not. In fact, they may be the only political group today whose aims are not "divorced from authentic affections toward kin." As such, they may hold the key to redeeming not only families but a political culture that for thirty years has been sinking into the mire of permanent rebellion. Their current plight indicates how the divorce "revolution" has brought us all to a brave new quasi-Freudian world where not only traditional authorities and institutions are attacked and destroyed, but so now are private individuals, simply because they hold the most basic position of human authority, the head of a family. Through fathers, we can restore a civic culture that originates from the family upwards. And so they may be the ones to lead us in restoring constitutional government as well. Today, all fathers could become founding fathers.

For FCF News on Demand, this is Stephen Baskerville.