Renewing the American Idea
U.S. House of Representatives
"In everything we do—in every policy we propose—we need to renew the American Idea. Conservatism in our nation is not about the past. It’s not a misty-eyed nostalgia for a world that’s come and gone. And it’s not a skittish disposition to “go it slow”—to tinker around the edges. Nor is American conservatism about blind opposition to government. For sure, government today is too big, bureaucratic, inefficient, and unaccountable. But we must not jettison the very rule of law that shields our liberty. No, American conservatism is about conserving something—principles that are timeless because they are true—to be renewed and applied in our time.
What is the American Idea? In short, it is self-government under the rule of law. It is rooted in our respect for the rights with which we are each endowed, a respect that shapes a society where every person can work hard, achieve success, and advance in life. For almost all of human history, a very different idea reigned supreme: the idea that people are fundamentally unequal, some born to rule and others to obey. Almost all were subjects or serfs—shorn of all distinction and with no ability to move up in the world or to provide a better future for their children. America’s Founders rebelled against this. They declared that human beings are created equal, with unalienable rights that come from God. They declared that government is legitimate only if it secures these rights. They were the first to announce to the world—and then to prove by their example—that the best government rests on the consent of the governed".
Read the complete presentation that Rep. Ryan delivered on July 15, 2014, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.