With the Tea Partiers

The Real Choice

Let’s face it: We’re hanging by a thread on the very edge of a cliff.

By From the October 2012 issue

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WE'RE COMING DOWN to the wire now for the 2012 elections, but if you think that this choice is between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, you haven’t been paying attention. Though this presidential campaign has been broadcast, written, Tweeted, and Facebooked about more than any other in history, it’s not about the personalities involved. Forget about whether you’d want to have beer and cigarettes with Barack or spend time with Mitt doing…whatever he does for fun. 

The choice is between restoring America or watching our nation become, in perpetuity, a larger version of the beleaguered European Union. Let’s face it: We’re hanging by a thread on the very edge of a cliff. Below us are all the nations we, for so long, had risen above in terms of productivity, quality of life, personal liberty, and economic freedom. 

Today we live in a country where outlays by the federal government double every 18 years despite the so-called conservative movement’s efforts; where thousands of local and municipal governments can’t pay their bills and teeter on the brink of bankruptcy; where the government colludes with business, labor, and small interest groups to pick winners and losers while forcing the many to pay for the few.

It’s a ticking time bomb, and our time is almost up. From the progressives who imported from Europe ideas that favored the common good over the rights of the individual, to the New Deal, Fair Deal, and Great Society, America has become dangerously collectivist. President after president—from both parties—has built walls around failing ideas, because they’ve been reduced to mere used car salesmen trying to make a deal. They’ve altogether lacked the stomach to simply tell people “no.” And Obama has taken it to new lows.

The social compact has changed: from a time when hardscrabble people worked to better themselves and expected little help from a government whose principal function was to protect them; to a time when people’s personal achievements are forcibly tempered by a government that has pledged to support huge segments of the population on the backs of everyone else. 

Through pensions, public employee unions, Medicare, and the Social Security Ponzi scheme, too many have gamed the system for too long for it to survive. We’ve gone from limited government to an attitude of “never enough.”

This whole idea of something for nothing has brought America to its weakest point since the Civil War. Instead of expecting to work hard and keep their earnings as a reward for a job well done, many Americans expect the government to provide for virtually their every need, while others are unmotivated to do more because they know they are ultimately working for the benefit of someone else. 

P.J. O’Rourke, in his book Parliament of Whores, makes the point that America is imperiled because  millions of people who wake up every day and work hard to put food on the table are being skewered by their own government. The rich can’t pay for all the programs. It will be the hard-earned money of the middle class that the government will compel to help sustain our downward spiral.

This will ultimately lead to lower incomes in the middle third of wage earners and a greater dependency by the middle class on government programs. We’ve seen it already in the past four years, when incomes for middle-class Americans dropped by $4,000 a year. Check the math. Our spending, taxes, revenue, giveaways, and bastardization of the free market don’t add up to anything more than impending disaster.

We need a fundamental transformation led by that bloc of Americans who have been hurt the most: the middle class. 

They must rise up and demand means testing and indexing for all social programs, an increase in the retirement age, an end to union contracts with low or no employee contributions for health care, the elimination of subsidies for favored industries, and deep payroll cuts in every federal department. They need to demand enforcement of fraud laws, division of too-big-to-fail banks, elimination of duplicate services, and an end to the crony capitalism that permits insider trading for congressmen.

The idea that you can’t have a safety net for those in need without bankrupting the country is simply un-American. The notion that Tea Partiers and fiscal conservatives are evil people who don’t care about the poor is equally repugnant. 

Republicans and Democrats alike have brought us to this point. The fault does not rest with one party, one policy, or one person. It rests with both parties, and with the tired, calcified conservative movement that has failed to stop statists’ advances.

This election isn’t about Obama and Romney. It’s about the kind of nation we will be.

It’s not about which ticket is more conservative. It’s about urging Americans at long last to stand up for their values and hold (hopefully) President Romney, Speaker Boehner, Senator McConnell, and thousands of elected officials across the country accountable—every election day until the American taxpayer again runs this country. In the end, it’s about keeping America free.

Anything less and we might as well start humming “La Marseillaise.”

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About the Author

Ned Ryun is the founder and president of American Majority, a political training institution. His "With the Tea Partiers" column run each month in the The American Spectator's print edition. You can follow him on Twitter @nedryun.