jump to navigation

Dads On Duty In Louisiana Show Rugged Individualism Still Works (Washington Examiner) October 28, 2021

Posted by daviddavenport in Op/Eds.

When there’s violence in your school, who you gonna call? If it’s bad enough, as it was at Southwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, you call the police.

After three days of violence last month, 23 students had been arrested with 14 placed in handcuffs. Several students were expelled in the wake of brawling fights. But then someone came up with a better solution. Who better to take care of our children than us?

Some fathers of the high school students decided to take action. We now have Dads on Duty, 40 fathers who show up every day to greet the children, walk the halls, keep the peace, and set a different tone with their friendly dad jokes and tough love. And guess what? No further violence at that school.

We live in a time when we have come to believe it takes the government to solve every social problem. But key parts of our society have long been individualism and volunteerism. People like the dads see a problem in their community and, instead of waiting for the police or a government agency to solve it, they step up and handle it themselves. In the process, as volunteers, they are able to play a different role and set a more positive tone than regulators can do.

In the 1928 presidential campaign, Herbert Hoover called this American rugged individualism. Hoover returned from years working in business and food relief in Europe shocked that America seemed to be moving toward some of the totalitarianism — socialism, fascism, communism — that was sweeping Europe. He knew what made America special is individualism coupled with equality of opportunity: people having the freedom and taking the initiative to solve problems and live their lives on their own without the government always telling them what to do.

In his classic 1835 book Democracy in America, the French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville noticed something similar: the inclination of Americans to volunteer and associate in groups to solve problems and improve life. Tocqueville thought Americans were the best at this he had ever seen.

Somehow, we have begun to lose that spirit. Instead of volunteering and stepping up, people step back and wait for the government to fill every void. Some argue that only the government can offer fair solutions to our problems. But the dads say otherwise. They offer a positive presence, with their jokes and love, that the police cannot. When so many children lack a father figure at home, these dads fill an important gap.

It makes me wonder whether President Joe Biden isn’t heading in the wrong direction with his proposals for mandatory government-run preschools and the huge growth of government in dozens of areas. Big government leaves less and less room for individual and community efforts. It saps the spirit out of American individualism. In fact, a recent Gallup poll shows that most people think it’s time for the government to get out of the way, tax less, and do less. That makes good sense to me.

So, salute the dads who stopped the bullying and the fighting. They can’t solve every problem, but they point the way toward a much-needed revival of rugged individualism and volunteer community efforts.

To read the column at the Washington Examiner:


%d bloggers like this: