By DAN WEBER | Special To The Tampa Tribune
Published: August 28, 2012 Updated: August 28, 2012 – 12:00 AM
As Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell leads platform delegates in Tampa this week to ratify the Republican Party platform, groups of every stripe and description are petitioning for inclusion of their policy priorities.
And while my own organization, the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) — the conservative answer to AARP — wants support for several key initiatives such as Obamacare repeal, Social Security reform and the protection of religious liberty, we’ve come up with a non-policy idea.
This is an idea we think sets this platform apart, arrests some media attention and maybe even gains some historical notice.
Because politics is ultimately not about programs and policies but the great ideas, we believe Americans would find nothing more heartening than a preamble to this year’s platform that in speaking to the crisis of our time points to the basic sustaining notions of American democracy that career politicians so often forget.
Ronald Reagan’s name often gets invoked today as that of a great president. But surely, his greatness as a president rested on his understanding of the greatness of America.
He continually spoke of American democracy as unique because it rested on the idea that government gains its rights from the people, not the other way around. And then he would talk about the origin and source of that idea.
At the start of his administration in 1981 — at a moment of great domestic and international crisis, he told the students of Notre Dame University:
“It is time for the world to know our intellectual and spiritual values are rooted in the source of all strength, a belief in a Supreme Being, and a law higher than our own.”
Yes, “the source of all strength.”
So, too, Congressman Paul Ryan gave eloquent testimony to this same concept in his appearance last week with Gov. Mitt Romney:
“But America is more than just a place. … It’s an idea. It’s the only country founded on an idea. Our rights come from nature and God, not government.”
America as “more than just a place” but “an idea.” And our rights from “nature and God,” not government. Yes.
Here is the wisdom of the Founders and of all our great presidents. So we wrote to Gov. McDonnell with this suggestion: a preamble that cites just these words and ideas.
We believe a major party platform opening with these sentiments about the real source of our nation’s greatness would not only speak to the American people but renew their spirit.
Dan Weber is founder and president of the Association of Mature American Citizens.