Michael Farris launches declaration to unite believers in freedom, morality
By Drew Zahn
Socialist solutions to America's struggles have been sweeping through the country virtually unchecked recently, from trillion-dollar federal bailouts to government control of the auto industry to calls for Uncle Sam to dig deeper into health care.
Meanwhile, those who would stand in opposition have been in disarray, as Republicans, conservatives, constitutionalists and capitalists of all colors haven't yet decided whether they can agree to agree with one another.
Out of that disarray has stepped Michael Farris, chancellor of Patrick Henry College and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, who believes there do exist a core set of principles that liberty-loving Americans can unite behind to stop the swell of socialism.
Through WND, Farris is announcing an invitation to "the citizens of this country that believe in the Constitution, who believe in traditional morality and virtue, who believe in a free America and reject the concepts of socialism and the secularist moral view" to unite in signing a newly drafted Declaration of the Principles of Liberty.
PHC Chancellor Dr. Michael Farris
Now, says Farris, "Socialism faces an ardent new foe" – not Farris himself, but the combined grassroots voices of Americans he hopes will rally behind the Declaration of the Principles of Liberty.
"A powerful voice for socialism has arisen in our nation. The government is here to provide for your every need," begins the declaration. "America must decide whether it wants to pursue the path of freedom or the path of socialism. Let us be clear. These are two separate paths, and, in the long run, no nation can be free if it pursues the path of socialism.
"But where is the voice for freedom? No political leader has yet clearly rallied the millions of Americans who still believe in liberty," asserts the declaration. "Then let the voice arise from the people themselves."
Farris told WND he was inspired to become the "draftsman" of the declaration after hundreds of people asked him what could be done in light of the nation's direction. He was further convinced that a core set of "first principles" was needed after working with conservative leaders in an effort to discern the positions of the presidential candidates prior to the last election.
"What I found in the process – to my shock – was not where candidates stood, but that the arguments made by some social conservative leaders showed that we didn't believe the same things or know what we stood for," Farris told WND. "After the election, I attended meetings with leadership of the Republican Party, leadership in the House and other conservative leaders, and I continue to believe that if there's going to be revitalization for the conservative movement, we first and foremost have to know what we believe in."
To that end, the declaration affirms a list of 10 core principles – among them the right to life, freedom of religion and conscience, the right to bear arms, economic freedom, limited government and others – that Farris believes can define and build a conservative coalition.
"We hope and believe that all Americans of good faith can embrace these ideals," states the declaration. "We invite all to examine the history of this great nation and test these ideas with a long-range view. We believe that the facts reveal that the goals of freedom and justice that we all seek have been best served whenever our nation adheres to these ideals."
The purpose behind the petition
"I simply came away [from meetings in Washington, D.C.] with the conviction that conservatism's leaders had not clearly stated our convictions and beliefs," Farris told WND. "I have given up any hope that anything like a comprehensive state of principles is going to come from on high; it's going to have to come from the grassroots."
The Declaration of the Principles of Liberty, Farris said, therefore has two components, one that addresses building a groundswell dedicated to freedom in future generations, and one that helps the current generation be discerning in the here and now.
"First, I hope people will take this declaration home and start talking to their children," Farris said. "We cannot sustain a free nation if children are not taught the principles of freedom.
"I guarantee our children are not going to be taught the principles of liberty, self-government and virtue in the public schools or through the mass media," Farris continued. "It's going to have to be a grassroots effort to articulate, defend and teach the principles of freedom."
Farris told WND the second purpose of the declaration is to give people a mirror they can hold up to leaders, to equip voters to ask pointed and pertinent questions of political candidates to discern their actual positions.
"Right now, [politicians] get away with platitudes," Farris said. "They'll talk about 'a culture of life' without defining what they mean by that. But people need to know what their stand is on protecting human life from conception to natural death.
"The declaration is written with the kind of precision that allows you to ask candidates pointed questions and find out where they really stand," he continued. "No more glowing generalities that just about anyone could endorse. If Bill Clinton can say he believes in 'a culture of life', for example, then that's not a precise enough phrase to separate issues.
"I hope one of the real uses of this declaration is as a standard to compare candidates," Farris said.
Not everyone Farris hopes to unite, however, may necessarily agree with every phrase in the declaration, a point Farris addressed in his interview with WND.
"We've got to be wise enough to recognize that we're building a conservative coalition," Farris said, "so even if you're a person who doesn't have any children, standing up for parental rights is still an important part of the coalition. Even if you don't choose to own guns, you need to recognize that the Second Amendment community is an important part of the conservative coalition, and the principles related to that are important to the country.
"The left is very good at organization around the doctrine of 'first principles,'" Farris explained. "The unions support the feminists who support the gay community and so forth. But what do unions have to do with feminism? I was once on television show with the head of a mine workers union, and he was talking about importance of the Equal Rights Amendment. And I said, 'What are you doing? I know your union members; I got a lot of their votes when I ran for lieutenant governor, and they don't believe in feminism.' The answer was: Feminism is an important part of the coalition.
"The left understands that and they work together, and so the right needs to do the same thing," Farris said. "We must not just find the least common denominator, but describe a whole set of first principles and get the whole coalition together who believe in these things."
The eventual goal, Farris explained, is to empower everyday Americans to take their organizations, political parties and nation back from those leaders who don't represent the people's values.
"I'm hoping this becomes a grassroots, viral campaign to promote these principles to millions of Americans and that millions of Americans will sign this pledge," Farris said. "If I'm able to tell the leadership in Washington that hundreds of thousands or millions of people have signed these petitions, they're going to have to start paying attention to these ideas, stop giving lip service to conservatism and stop simply being a more 'conservative' form of socialist."