Saving the American Idea, alas, is the last thing on our president’s closed mind.
At the Heritage Foundation last week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan demonstrated why he doesn’t need to be running for President to be framing the debate for 2012. He delivered there on October 26 a breathtakingly beautiful speech on Saving the American Idea, which defines the Spirit of 2012.
He began, “The mission of the Heritage Foundation is to promote the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. These are the principles that define the American idea. And this mission has never been timelier, because these principles are very much under threat from policies here in Washington.”
Ryan, a disciple of and former staffer for the late Jack Kemp, then explained, “What makes America exceptional — what gives life to the American Idea — is our dedication to the self-evident truth that we are all created equal, giving us equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And that means opportunity.”
Since the early 1700s, America has been the land of opportunity, offering world leading prosperity, stemming from world leading freedom. And millions and millions of the dispossessed, the homeless tempest tossed, and their progeny now totaling hundreds of millions altogether, have voted for that American Dream with their feet, crossing oceans, deserts, rivers, and mountain ranges to get here. As I discuss in my recent book, America’s Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb:
Which leaves the question, why did they come? And why do they still come?…. Well, it’s not for the Food Stamps, or the public housing, or even Social Security and Medicare. America’s world leading prosperity dates all the way back to the early 18th century. The roots of that prosperity can be seen in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God-given right of each man and woman to the pursuit of happiness. [T]hat is why they came. They came because America has always been the land of freedom and prosperity and opportunity. They came because of the American Dream, that in this nation every man and woman enjoys the freedom and opportunity to rise to achieve their dreams, regardless of family background, class, race, or religion.
Ryan frames the question now facing us in 2012: “Have those periods of unprecedented prosperity in America’s past been the product of our Founding principles? Or, as some would argue, have we made it this far only in spite of our outdated values? Are we still an exceptional nation? Should we even seek to be unique? Or should we become more like the rest of the world — more bureaucratic, less hopeful, and less free?”
Or as I write in my book regarding America’s heritage of world leading prosperity:
Is that over now? Is America just another nation now, like Greece, as President Obama has suggested? In fact, just like Greece? Is the American Dream done? Is that what is meant by the “New Normal”? Or is that just a phrase to provide political cover for the realities of a new socialism, where everyone as Churchill explained shares equally in the curses of misery, rather than unequally in the blessings of capitalism?
Ryan then discussed at Heritage how Obama is answering these questions for 2012:
To my great disappointment, it appears that the politics of division are making a big comeback. Many Americans share my disappointment — especially those who were filled with great hope a few years ago, when then Senator Obama announced his candidacy….Do you remember what he said? He said that what’s stopped us from meeting our greatest challenges is, “the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics — the ease with which we are distracted by the petty and the trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle big problems.
Imagine if Obama had been true to his political rhetoric from 2008. Suppose he had been true to his promise that his economic program would involve a “net spending cut,” several trillion dollars of wasted unnecessary spending ago. Suppose he had truly been a non-partisan President working with both parties to enact a truly effective economic recovery program, like Reagan, lifting up the poorest of Americans with booming economic prosperity. Suppose like Ryan, Obama had adopted the inclusive, pro-growth, prosperity vision of Jack Kemp.
Contrary to the abusive rhetoric of left-wing-extremist know nothings in media and entertainment, some of them literally clowns, Obama would be so universally beloved that we would be clearing space for him on Mt. Rushmore right now. Instead Obama played us with rhetoric promising prosperity and recovery, when all along he planned to deliver dependency on his political machine instead.
Ryan explained his disappointment with Obama in devastating detail:
[N]early three years into his presidency, look at where we are now:
Petty and trivial? Just last week, the President told a crowd in North Carolina that Republicans are in favor of quote ‘dirtier air, dirtier water, and less people with health insurance.’ Can you think of a pettier way to describe sincere disagreements between the two parties on regulation and health care?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?