The annual Independence Day party that I host at my California home was particularly alive with conversation this year -- conversation probably not too different from what was heard in a lot of backyards around the country.
Folks are concerned that our nation is in bad shape and dangerously, maybe even hopelessly, adrift.
The choreography was in place to assure a downbeat Independence Day party for a house filled with conservatives: a listless economy, coupled with the cold shower of the Supreme Court decision the previous week giving most of "Obamacare" a constitutional green light. To compound the injury, the dismally disappointing decision was written and handed down by a chief justice, an alleged conservative nominated by a Republican president.
But Chief Justice John Roberts' words captured, really, the rub of what is bothering many conservatives:
"Members of this court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our nation's leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices."
Maybe how Roberts interpreted the Constitution disappointed. But his point is indisputable: If you're looking for political leadership, "It's not our job."
Conservatives are looking for leadership at this difficult and challenging time.
Maybe because this July 4 crowd at my home consisted of many longtime Southern Californians, there was talk about Ronald Reagan.
Yes, Jimmy Carter was bad. But Reagan did not just run against a bad economy and a confused, uninspiring president. He understood and believed in America -- and he ran on this vision. This is leadership.
It happens that last month marked the 25th anniversary of Reagan's famous "tear down this wall" speech in Berlin. Its author, Peter Robinson, recalled the event in a Wall Street Journal column.
The story has been told many times. But it cannot be recalled too many times that the political professionals -- the president's advisers and various members of the president's staff -- opposed including the "tear down" line.
Despite numerous attempts to remove the line from the speech, it stayed in -- because of Reagan.
This is leadership.
The problems we have today did not start four years ago. They are the accumulation of many years of a slow but consistent departure from our core principles of being a free nation, under God.
Of our now almost $15.6 trillion in debt -- 100 percent of our gross domestic product -- nearly $5 trillion was added over the last four years. But $10 trillion -- almost two-thirds -- was added over the last 12 years.
Forty percent of our $4 trillion federal budget consists of inefficient entitlement programs tilting into bankruptcy. These are old and outdated programs: Social Security going back to the 1930s, Medicare and Medicaid to the 1960s.
Our public school systems hold 60 million children captive by teachers unions dedicated to left-wing ideas and moral relativism.
The traditional American family is becoming a relic of history. Out-of-wedlock births and the use of abortion as birth control have become fixtures of our society.
When Reagan ran for president in 1980, health-care expenditures consumed 9 percent of our GDP. Today, they consume 18 percent. We have a health-care problem with or without John Roberts' unpopular decision.
Real recovery is impossible now without inspired leadership dedicated to recapturing the principles of limited government, individual freedom and the traditional values that made America great.
The left has a leader. He is in the White House and he is leading us into oblivion.
Where is conservative leadership -- leadership that will remind us that American community is defined by personal responsibility, not by government mandates?
Planned Parenthood, which rakes in hundreds of millions in the abortion business, actively discourages women from going to crisis pregnancy centers. (comments)
The irony does not drip but pours forth like a tsunami when liberals start talking about morality and ethics. (comments)
Black Americans are bearing the brunt of the cost of a nation that has lost its moral rudder as a result of wantonly legal and available abortion. (comments)
As our reverence for life has diminished, so has our reverence for the institutions that surround and support it. (comments)
National pro-life leaders were demonstrating outside Kermit Gosnell's abortion center as early as February 2011. (comments)
Carson, through diligence and traditional values, achieved on his own what trillions of dollars of government programs were supposed to deliver. (comments)
Employment set-asides designated for unskilled foreign workers, with wage levels determined by the government, are nothing but a stick in the eye to competing low-wage workers in the American market. (comments)
The purge of religion and traditional values from our public schools has produced a new generation of with values different from those of their parents and grandparents. (comments)
If we are going to save our cities, we need to get back to what built them in the first place: Freedom, enterprise and entrepreneurship. (comments)
I saw a once-barren land -- a land once described by Mark Twain as "a desolate country ... a silent and mournful expanse" -- now fruitful and ripe. (comments)
No gun-sale background check could have prevented the Sandy Hook tragedy. (comments)
Medicaid is a pure welfare program. (comments)
Gun control initiatives mask the issues that really need attention. (comments)
At the National Prayer Breakfast, Ben Carson reminds us that religious ritual devoid of content is pointless and destructive. (comments)
No matter how hard you squint and try to discern the values of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass in those now wielding the money and power at the top of the party, they've disappeared. (comments)
Why are the president and Feinstein so ready to compromise basic American freedoms with gun control measures to solve a problem that Obama acknowledges we don't understand? (comments)
It is no accident that as the American welfare state grew, the American family collapsed. (comments)
What was once understood as religion and tradition is now called bigotry and pushed off the stage. (comments)
An ultrasound picture, showing the growing and moving fetus, has raised awareness that this unborn child is alive and that abortion is murder. (comments)
Economic growth happens when success and risk taking is rewarded and sloth and failure is not. (comments)