With the nomination of Barak Obama as the Democratic Presidential candidate, I began to wonder what I would like McCain – or any candidate – to say. There is so much that I wanted to include, and I’m writing this, like, really, really late at night and my brain cells are half asleep and I must be up early in the morning and my sentences are starting to run together….anyway, I would love to hear this from a candidate:
Dear Fellow Americans,
We come again, as we have done so many times in the past, to a crossroads in our history. With each election, we are called upon to make somber decisions to determine a future we cannot yet see, based on a past many of us do not fully understand. Every election cycle, we must decide who will lead our country based on a series of statements from an individual designed to make us trust and believe in his or her message. Every four years, we are asked to query ourselves “What do we really want for our country? What will work to the benefit of the largest number? How will we meet our challenges? Who will speak for us?” These are potent questions, requiring serious introspection into what made us who we are today. No man, woman, or civilization can ignore the past, for it is our past that educates us as to what our future should be.
Our Founding Fathers had an education that is, unfortunately, not available to most of our young people today. They designed a nation with a system of checks and balances that has worked remarkably well, when used as designed. They lived in a time when the energy of the people was built upon the excitement of pushing westward, conquering new land and making it fruitful. I wish I could have been there, at the beginning of our nation, as new Americans planned futures to be determined by the sweat of their brow and the spark of imagination fueled by the new discoveries they made as they conquered this land. This energy carried people of all races and creeds from sea to shining sea, filling the land and making it fruitful. They met their challenges with enthusiasm and stern determination.
Where is this determination today? This next part will be hard for many to hear, but when my mother found me running a fever, I was forced to take my medicine, no matter how nasty I thought it was. And though I resisted, the medicine usually helped me to overcome my illness. As I grew more mature, I began to look forward to “taking my medicine,” whether it be for a physical or fiscal illness. While sometimes difficult to swallow, the hard lessons I’ve learned over the years have helped me move into my future with more confidence and practical knowledge. With that in mind, I address a problem that has been weighing heavily on my mind.
The Founding Fathers never envisioned a land where so many were dependent upon society for their basic necessities. Instead of putting shoulder to the wheel, there are too many hands outstretched. Our government was charged to “promote the general welfare” – not to provide welfare! Somewhere along the line, promoting the general welfare has been redefined. The “pursuit of happiness” has been redefined as “equal outcomes”. Nowhere were the Founding Fathers assuming that we would have an equal society. Every individual has different temperaments, attitudes, work ethics, talents, and desires. How can such a diverse people end up equally wealthy or equally happy? Attempts to create such utopias have failed every time; human nature works against it. Equality cannot be forced upon a populace. As a compassionate society, we must care for those who are truly in need – the handicapped, the elderly, and those who are temporarily down on their luck. But it is not compassionate to keep anyone addicted to that lifestyle.
And there was certainly never envisioned a group of politicians who would work so hard to keep that dependency going for the gain of the politicians. The professional legislators need their dependency to be re-elected, and buy those votes with promises of a brighter future that, for the most part, have not been kept. Individual responsibility has been purchased with the creativity and productivity of our nation’s young. The enthusiasm that could have been poured into providing new services or creating new jobs has been stifled under the burden of welfare. I ask that our new congress work on creating a system of permanently moving our welfare families out of the chains of poverty. I ask that more money be granted to the Small Business Administration and other similar organizations to assist these people who have talent and dreams to start small businesses, teaching them basic business fundamentals and helping them to establish their own futures, futures that they control. Imagine the growing dignity of these new business owners and employees, who begin to control their own destinies, to be treated as they should be, as people with intelligence and competence. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be overnight, as generations of welfare mentality must be overcome, but I believe it can be done! The only thing that separates these people from those already successful is only expectations. If we expect these welfare dependent to progress to responsible citizens, we must put together incentives and provide the tools for them to learn the skills and attitudes necessary for success. I then expect that they will be able to overcome the heritage they have been living. Bring the fathers home, build up the families, give them hope for a future, and see what happens! Capitalism has been the best system to endow the most people with wealth, and wealth is not a zero sum game. Our society welcomes as many success stories as we can possibly generate, and the wealth of one person does not prevent another from achieving success. With a vested interest in the proper running of the economy, these local leaders and their employees will become more responsive to the promises and actions of their leaders.
I ask that the American people scrutinize their leaders and ask themselves “Have they performed as they promised? Is my life better, truly better, in significant ways because of anything they have done? Have they worked not just for the benefit of our particular area, but in ways that are not a detriment to other taxpayers? Are they honest? Should I vote them in again for any reason other than I recognize their name on the ballot?” Be honest with yourselves, and make your legislators honest with you. And please, if you cannot answer all of these questions, take the time to educate yourself before putting someone in a position of power over your life of which you know so little. Good government is totally dependent upon an informed and involved citizenry. You are just as responsible for good leadership as the people you vote into leadership positions.
Our Founding Fathers envisioned a political system where politicians were “of the people” and “for the people”. When the ones who create the laws must live under the laws to which they give birth, they are more considered in their deliberations than when they are immune to the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, we have career politicians who, while they may mean well, have lost contact with what it means to live with their own regulations. While in Congress, they enjoy privileges and perks that their constituents can only imagine. Congress should be subject to the same rules, laws, and regulations that they impose upon their constituents. Our leaders are called to lead, not abstain, and to lead by example. I ask for complete transparency in our Congress – every transaction and meeting should be made public. While the substance of meetings may need to be kept confidential, these men and women hold the public’s trust, and must be completely honest. The only way for this to happen is for the people to be able to watch them, since the temptations of public service can weaken even the most stalwart of morals.
Leaders should be men and women not just with a calling or desire to serve the public, but people of vision. This vision should be based upon the Constitution and the fine history of achievement of our citizens. Our history is filled with examples of bravery, innovation, intelligence, and high moral standards. Why should we believe that things have changed? Why must we believe the worst in ourselves? It is no wonder that we seem to be spinning our wheels, looking to the guidance of other countries’ examples to determine what we should believe or how we should behave. America has long been a beacon to other countries. We are accused of racism, when we have fought so hard to extinguish that evil. While pockets of discrimination may still exist, we are certainly not the bastion of racism that some claim. “Capitalism” is not an evil word – it is capitalism that provides the most and best opportunity for success to happen! What is the glamour in examining our weaknesses, or even create new problems? Yes, we must be realistic in our evaluations of ourselves, but it is not necessary to wallow in our misery. If your car goes off the road into the ditch, you don’t exit the car and roll in the mud! You find a way to get your car out of the ditch, get back in, and continue to move towards your destination! The same applies to our country – we need to abandon the selfish urge to flagellate ourselves over past evils. Focusing on problems does not make anyone stronger or more morally correct than the person who dusts himself off and moves on. Forward motion is not possible if all you do is look in your rear view mirror. Americans are generous, friendly, industrious people, and we should accept the good in ourselves and our country as we correct our deficiencies – and move forward!
There are so many other things to discuss, but those will have to wait for future opportunities. But I have high expectations for our future, if we return to equality under the law, personal accountability, self responsibility, equal opportunities instead of equal outcomes, the principles of free markets and capitalism, and a belief in the inherent goodness of our country. Let us return to the basics of our forefathers!