Did an American politician just say this? Here’s Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback:
The men and women who settled our great state, who bled for freedom and dirtied their boots and hands to provide for themselves and their families, understood this well. An 1881 editorial in the Abilene Chronicle summarized it with typical prairie efficiency: “A man with a family, with 160 acres of land in Dickinson County (with a contented mind and a will to work) is far better off than the Astors or Vanderbilts, or even President Garfield, as far as the real substantial enjoyment of life is concerned.”
We can no longer afford to view our current economic crisis as something distinct and apart from the crisis of family and community decay. Increasing economic dependency on a deeply indebted government is not a viable long-term solution.
Likewise, economic opportunities in faraway places that entice our children to abandon the communities that nurtured them cannot be the answer.
Our economic prosperity depends on strong families and strong cultural institutions. Healthy families and communities require economic freedom. The best welfare program is a good job. The best child poverty prevention program is a stable, two-parent home. The best disaster recovery program is a community of resilient and caring neighbors and businesses. The best community revitalization happens when our towns and cities are free to create economic opportunities that stop exporting their best, brightest and hardest working elsewhere.
Is Brownback turning into a Front Porch Republican? Man, I sure hope so. In the next issue of TAC, I have an interview with Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, a Baton Rouge native (woo!) who represents Lincoln, Neb., in the US House. He’s making similar localist noises about the future of the GOP and conservatism. This is encouraging.