One might ask the question, why would I want to use an American Government textbook that was written twenty years ago? It is because this is a text that is sorely needed today. Read a little of Dr. Clarence Carson’s Preface, and ask yourself if this is not an endeavor worth the time and effort of your students. These principles, truly understood, will prepare them for their future:
It would be a considerable fraud to do a book on American government which talked as if the Constitution were still being substantially observed, that pretended that when Presidents took the oath of office they intended to observe the bounds set by the Constitution, that Congressmen recited their pledges with the same intent, and that Federal judges were still construing the Constitution as it was written. In sum, any book on American government worthy of the name ought to make clear how remote from the Constitution the government has become. Every effort has been made to do so in this book.
This book is not, then, simply a manual on the nuts and bolts of government which accept whatever it is that government does without reference to constitutional authorization. It is not a manual on how to live under its authority and operate the government in the year of our Lord 1993. There are manuals aplenty that provide such information. On the contrary, this is a work addressed to potential citizens, who wish to constrain and control their government by constitutional means, not to conforming servants, beggars for portions of its loot, nor employees or operators of a leviathon-sized government.
This book contains an account of the general government as established by the Constitution, of the state governments which preceded it and came after it and their constitutions. More, it details the Ancient and modern foundations, scriptural and secular, on which these constitutions and governments rested. The Founders of the United States built on a great foundation, and the story of that is told in these pages. The story is told, too, how the Constitution of 1787 became the Higher Law for many Americans, including most of those who governed them in the 19th century. It ends with a detailed account of the massive departures from the Constitution in the 20th century on the way to constructing a Leviathon, in which government is now out of control.
This is a work intended for citizens and potential citizens of the United States of all ages and conditions. Can such a work be intended for young people? Indeed, it can and is, for however shameful the departures from and betrayal of the Constitution have been, the knowledge of them is not something from which anyone should be protected…
When Clarence Carson set out to write an economics text and an American government text he knew that certain fundamental principles had to be taught. He knew then that our government had abandoned the Constitutional restraints that our Founders had imposed. Moreover, he knew that modern economics textbooks had largely departed from natural law foundations by embracing a form of positivism that is destructive of our natural rights to life, liberty, and property.
Things have only gotten worse. We live in a day when it is absolutely necessary that we educate today’s students in the fundamentals of the natural law tradition if our nation is to be salvaged from the tyrannies being imposed upon us. Ignorance and false understanding of the nature of economics and government can only result in the further demise of the nation. Indeed, such ignorance has yielded a rising tide of tyranny and despotism and out of control government action. The time for restoration is now and that can only occur when the new generation comes to grips with the essential nature of the fundamental principles we have abandoned as a nation, and as they recognize and root out the half-truths and outright falsehoods that have been proliferated in the guise of promoting the “common good” in our society. Basic Economics (3rd ed., updated in 2010) and Basic American Government are an important tandem aimed at rightly educating this new generation.