Regardless of which side of the Social Security debate you are on, real “social security” – that which truly makes society secure – has less to do with retirement benefits and financial entitlements than it does with protecting and promoting our most vital social institutions.

While it was encouraging to hear the president, during last week’s State of the Union address, clearly reaffirm his support for a constitutional amendment to protect marriage, and promote the sanctity of life, I couldn’t help but wonder whether we are truly living up to our “responsibility to our children to honor and pass along the values that sustain a free society.”

The first measure of such a society, the president said, “[Is] how it treats the weak and vulnerable.”

We must ask ourselves whether a society can be considered “secure” when its weakest citizens, unborn children, have a one-in-three chance of being exterminated before they ever see the light of day Can our nation hold its head up proudly while it endorses the systematic destruction of its most vulnerable people?

The president also said: “… marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society …”

Empirical studies demonstrate that married people live happier, healthier and longer lives than their single counterparts. Moreover, we know that children fare much better when raised by their married biological parents.

In spite of the evidence, our nation doesn’t seem so committed to marriage. Too many marriages today fail and the very meaning of the institution is under constant attack by homosexual activists who want to redefine it in order to affirm their own disordered and destructive lifestyles. Can a society that treats its most vital institution with so little respect really be considered secure?

The president then stated: “Because courts must always deliver impartial justice, judges have a duty to faithfully interpret the law, not legislate from the bench.”

A responsible judiciary is an essential part of democratic governance. Unfortunately, many of our judges are abandoning their oath to defend the Constitution in order to legislate from the bench. How can we sleep soundly at night knowing that unelected judges regularly sacrifice objective interpretation of the law in order to pursue their own political and social agendas? This is the antithesis of authentic democratic governance.

The citizens of Iraq woke up on Jan. 30 – amid mortar fire and the threat of terror – and voted (and they did so at a higher rate, 60 percent, than Americans do). They voted not because they saw in us such a great example of democratic governance, but because they understood that the key to obtaining and preserving democracy is to exercise the rights and freedoms it promises. They voted because they understood the principles upon which our nation was founded. They understood what we so often forget: that our liberties and rights do not come from judges or Congress or from the president – they come from the Creator.

It is this belief that motivated so many Iraqis to vote last Sunday. It is the belief in the unalienable rights endowed by our Creator that inspired so many Iraqis to say “yes” to democracy.

Our nation will someday soon reawaken to acknowledge what makes America such a prosperous nation. It was the recognition of God’s ultimate authority, affirmed for us by our Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence, that helped us to overcome the terrible injustice of slavery, the devastation of the Great Depression, and the grave threat of communism. And it is the sincere belief in this single ideal that will see us through our current state of social insecurity.

Gary Bauer is president of American Values. A 2000 Republican presidential contender and former domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan, Bauer previously served as president of America’s second-largest political action committee, The Campaign for Working Families, and served as president of the Family Research Council, one of Washington’s most-respected centers for public policy.

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