Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), the president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, warned Saturday that Americans are beginning to lose faith in the country.

He blamed the trend on the federal government, which he said is trampling on “the little platoons of our lives” that make up the fabric of American life: families, churches, local charities, small businesses.

“What happens when the top brass of a big central government begins to replace and displace these little platoons in our lives?” he said. “What happens when decisions are made from the top down instead of the bottom up?"

“What happens when we depend on big government to solve our problems instead of ourselves?” he added.

The South Carolina Republican argued that growing dependence on government has caused the economy to languish, opportunities to disappear and growing divisions among the public.

He touched on similar themes in his book, “Falling in Love with America Again,” which provides firsthand accounts of people overcoming problems in areas such as education and healthcare.

“When power is taken from individuals and the little platoons and concentrated in Washington, the fundamental building blocks of our public service and our public affection crumbles,” he said.

DeMint said handouts have replaced hand-ups and resentment has replaced nationalism because people have less freedom.

He cited the Internal Revenue Service targeting citizens who are concerned about mounting government spending and small businesses getting sued and fined for refusing to participate in activities that violate their religious beliefs as signs of growing government intrusion.

“When we feel like our voices are no longer heard or even wanted by our representatives in Congress, our love for America and our fellow citizens is strained,” he said.

“Most of us have fallen out of love with a political system that favors special interests rather than the common man,” he added.

He said the only way for citizens to change their government is to remember that solutions to the nation’s problems will not come from Washington but from communities around the country that must be free of “the federal government straightjacket.”

Americans will unify around core ideas that strengthen the nation, he said, citing free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional values and a strong defense.

In addition, DeMint called for letting states compete among themselves to build the best schools, healthcare, transportation, tax and tort systems.

“We see this competition and innovation working in school choice in Louisiana and Florida and other states,” he said. “Lower taxes and regulations in Texas are creating many more businesses.” 

“I challenge you my friends, join me in falling in love with America again, again and again,” he concluded.