If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. – Thomas Jefferson
1. To reorient American politics toward the First Principles of the American Founding.
2. To reshape public policy to reflect our constitutional framework of limited government.
3. To unify and revive a robust conservatism around, and in defense of, these core principles.
4. To provide the next generation with a strong foundation for learning and promoting our nation’s founding principles.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
The future of liberty depends on reclaiming America’s first principles. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization,” as Thomas Jefferson warned, “it expects what never was and never will be.” Widespread ignorance of American history is but the most recognized symptom of the troubling decline in popular knowledge of fundamental principles. We face an education system that upholds mediocrity in the name of relativism; an ever-expanding and centralized government, unmoored from constitutional limits; judges openly making laws and shaping society based on pop-philosophy rather than serious jurisprudence; and growing confusion over America’s legitimate role in the world, made all the more apparent by the fundamental threat posed by radical Islamists. At the root of all these problems is a pervasive doubt about the core principles that define America and ought to inform our politics and policy.
As the leading public policy institution focused on American liberty, The Heritage Foundation must lead the call to awaken our country and get it back on course. We must recall the nation to its first principles, reinvigorate American constitutionalism, and revive the sturdy virtues required for self-government. We must restore the principles of America’s Founders to their proper role in the public and political discourse, influencing public policy and reforming government to reflect constitutional limits. We must rebuild and unify a robust conservatism around, and in defense of, these core principles, and identify and develop current and future policymakers, opinion-makers, and leaders who understand, articulate, and will promote these principles. In short, our vision, building on the great successes of the modern conservative movement, must now be to save America by reclaiming its truths and its promises and conserving its liberating principles for ourselves and our posterity.
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