Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Admitting the Mistake

The candidate who should have to campaign the least in a presidential election is an incumbent president.  They are a known quantity, and if they are doing their job well, then reelection should be easily attained.  If you want a vision of what the next four years are going to be like, simply look at the last four and remove the moderating factor of having to run for reelection.  On the other hand, the candidate that must campaign the most is an incumbent president who must deal with the self-inflicted predicament of finding a way to get voters to forget about the debacle of their first term.  Judging from the actions of our current president, I would say he falls into the latter category.

“But the mild voice of reason, pleading the cause of an enlarged and permanent interest, is but too often drowned, before public bodies as well as individuals, by the clamors of an impatient avidity for immediate and immoderate gain.” – James Madison

I will never forget watching as then Senator Obama accepted the Democratic Party's nomination for President of the United States.  TV cameras scanned the crowd revealing masses of slacked jawed admirers who seemed to be mesmerized by the opportunity to bask in the glory of Obama's greatness.  Apparently the title of greatness was no longer subject to proof nor based in the elements of accomplishments or results, perception was good enough.  A majority of the country’s electorate had fallen prey to a disciplined campaign with the vague message of hope and change.  A people blinded by a delusion of unicorns and rainbows, allowing themselves to dismiss the inopportune fact that the messenger was nothing more than a man of not much substance. 

“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.” - John Adams

If President Obama’s first term has proven anything, it is that he is but a mere mortal.  Despite a foolhardy and desperate hope that he was so different, so much more than any that had come before him, reality has taught us a tough lesson.  We elected a man leader of the free world with a past shrouded in mystery, void of anything resembling leadership, and littered with examples of a person never held accountable nor taking responsibility for his actions.  Both President Obama and the masses that enthusiastically supported him discovered very early on that it is much easier to run for president than it is to be president.  Making promises pales in comparison to the far more difficult task of fulfilling them.  Add to this situation the additional complication of a campaign that created an assurance of being all things to all people, our savior, and things quickly move from difficult to impossible. These are lofty expectations for someone who has never run anything, stood for anything, or created anything beyond his own façade of brilliance. How unfortunate that so many felt punishing the Republican Party superseded their inherent responsibilities as American citizens, paramount of which is to be an educated voter with the common sense to elect a qualified head of state.   

“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.” - John F Kennedy

The fate of our nation is determined by the power of the ballot.  Our government is elected, the product of our collective decision.  Regardless of our affinity for claiming government is something that is done to us, we must come back to the hard truth that the only ones to blame for our ever mounting problems are the voters who empower the politicians we love to hate.  How inconvenient that those voters are us.  Voting is the ultimate responsibility, and one that our nation has underappreciated to a fault, as a single vote has the power to do what so many trials and tribulations have failed to do over our 236 year history, set in motion the downfall of our democratic republic.  Casting a vote must be deliberate, educated, and logical.  National elections have both predicable and unforeseen consequences. There is far too much at stake to allow them to devolve into a high school style popularity contest.  We are not choosing the people to lead the prom committee; these people must represent the interests of the most powerful nation in human history.  It is our duty as the defining force of our country, the keepers of mankind’s most audacious experiment, to ensure the preservation of the world’s most perfect form of government.  Casting a vote is the very essence of American citizenship, the Holy Grail of self-determination that cannot be taken with a cavalier attitude of what have you done for me lately.  Basing such a monumental decision on short sighted and self-consumed reasoning is recklessness incarnate.

"If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin." - Samuel Adams

I do not understand why any American would respect, let alone support, a man who fundamentally believes they are incapable of taking care of themselves.  This is not a political ideology of looking out for you, but one of looking down on you.  Anyone that supports big government must believe in the inferiority of the individual.  This is the only logical reason, for what other justification can there be other than the people simply need to be told what to do since they are unable to figure it out on their own.  Increases in regulation, bureaucracy, taxes, and government intrusion are all instruments of one thing – control.  A control those on the left believe is necessary in order to ensure we, the people, do not screw things up.  They label this power grab as benevolent patronage, the embodiment of their ultimate saving of our society.  Regardless of how much they may actually believe this, it is nothing but the condescending notion that they know better than we do, they must intervene to save us from ourselves.  More government has never led to good things.  Everything has a price, and the price of an ever increasing government is ever decreasing liberties and freedoms.  Our democratic republic was such a revolutionary idea because it positioned the power to constrain government in the hands of the governed, demonstrating our founders’ full confidence in the people’s ability to determine their own fate.  Quite the contrary to our current administration’s view of the people.

“Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.” - John Adams

With all of this in mind, it begs the question, “When will the forty some percent that approve of President Obama's performance finally let go of whatever excuse they are using to continue to justify their unfounded support of this man?”  Regardless of what spin or how badly one wants him to be a good president, he simply is not.  Though to anyone really paying attention, the fact his presidency has been a bad comedy of indecision, contradiction, untruths, blame, and unaccountability is no real surprise.  It is baffling that so many naively bought into this man's well-crafted myth of limitless potential despite his very lacking credentials.  Resumes are valuable tools used by employers to analyze a person’s skills, talents, and past achievements.  Though far from full proof, they do give key insight into a candidate’s likely ability to fulfill the requirements of a given position.  If many had simply taken the time to examine our current president’s resume, they would have quickly surmised that his past lacks any examples of the vital characteristics necessary for a successful presidency – responsibility, leadership, results, consistency, respect, and earned success.  Obama’s presidency is a reflection of the way he has lived his life.  He has never been held accountable for anything, led anything, professionally accomplished anything outside of being elected to office, nor has he ever really made a stand for anything.  His accolades based not on accomplishments, but on a faith that he is destined for greatness.   He is a man with a foundationless image, and having to deal with the necessities of effectively governing can make for inconvenient circumstances.  Political failure has a tendency to bring about the ultimate enemy to a man whose reputation relies on faith alone – doubt.  His political career is one of always campaigning for the next position, never really doing anything in his current one.  Unfortunately for him there is no office left to run for after President of the United States.  The gig is up and now he has no choice after failing to live up to the expectations he had cultivated over a lifetime of campaigning, he must try and make us rationalize or simply forget we were not lifted up and delivered to the promise land during his time as president.  Instead we were enthusiastically led down the path toward irrelevance.  Once again the snake oil has predictably failed to live up to the promises made.

“The essence of government is power, and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.” - James Madison

Our nation is experiencing its worst decline in its history.  I’m not referring to the economy, but to the erosion of what made us great – responsibility.  We repeatedly express frustration over a do nothing government, and yet the only man of the four on the two major party tickets that had the audacity to actually address a serious problem is the only one considered a political risk.  Lies, partisanship, empty promises, buffoonery, fringe political beliefs, and failed policies are acceptable to us, but heaven forbid you develop a plan to make a failing government program economically viable, that is simply unacceptable.  We like our politicians to talk about problems and tell us who is to blame for them, not really do anything about them.  It is not your fault, you do not have a fair chance, and government assistance is the only path to success. These foundational beliefs of the current administration have rapidly increased our free fall to mediocrity and are toxic to American exceptionalism.  A strategy fostering a growing sense of victimization fed with an unsustainable supply of government handouts does nothing to cultivate an environment conducive to positive change.  As I have written before, President Obama is not the cause of our national decline; he is a result of it.  Our standards have diminished, and since we do not expect or demand more from those running for office, we do not get it.  President Obama is the president and candidate he is because we allow it.  He knows we are asleep at the wheel, so his strategy is to take full advantage of our absence.  He has no regard for our Constitution, for our system of government, the boundaries of presidential power, our longtime allies, the truth, or our nation’s future.  Our government is out of control because we have not done our part to keep it in line; we have not held it accountable.   When we finally grow up, so will our “leaders.”  Words are meaningless without actions to back them up.  Regardless of whether we want to acknowledge it, we do hold the power at least for a little while longer.  The more time we take to accept our responsibilities, the smaller the position of influence we will come back to. 

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” - James Madison

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tyranny of the Fair Share

“Taxation follows public debt, and in its train wretchedness and oppression”. - Thomas Jefferson

It is the arrogance of government, the current administration in particular, to believe it knows better how to spend your money than you do.  Taxes are necessary, as government has limited means of generating revenue and must fulfill certain constitutional duties.  Since we are the beneficiaries of the results produced by the fulfillment of these obligations, we are the ones that must pay.  And while areas like national defense and infrastructure are and were intended to be in the realm of the federal government, others like health insurance (Medicare and Obamacare), the administration of retirement benefits (social security), and charity (food stamps, Medicaid, and unemployment) never were.  Our national government was never meant to be the enormous bureaucratic nanny state it has become. 

Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.” - James Madison

Crisis is fertile soil in which government grows.  In troubled times we turn to government as the answer, the liege we empower to save us from ourselves.  It gladly accepts this commission for it permits them to set the price.  In the end, that which we sacrifice far outweighs any perceived solutions the government implements.  Government is not efficient nor is it held accountable, so in exchange for increased taxes they give us additional debt spending, and in exchange for a false sense of hope or security they infringe upon our liberties and freedoms.  This is all further evidence as to why government was meant to be and must be restrained by the governed.  A government that provides limited services requires limited taxes, while big government dishing out ever increasing entitlements and social programs necessitates continuously escalating tribute.  To perpetuate the façade of being “taken care of” is expensive, not just in terms of cash but even more so in terms of our prized freedom of self-determination. 

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” - Abraham Lincoln

Kicking the can down the road.  While it is one of the most overused lines today, it is an apt description of our government’s modus operandi.  We don’t want to deal with the mess we have allowed to happen.  That would be painful, and we do not like pain.  So our elected officials follow suit and select the path of least resistance and greatest political prudence by adopting the strategy of trading the swift sting of a quick Band-Aid pull for the long, constant swelling of a festering boil. We selfishly postpone the inevitable so we do not have to deal with it, at least not yet.  We choose instead to elect politicians that lead us headlong into the wall of financial disaster without the slightest hint of hesitation.  Is ignorance bliss, because reality can be very inconvenient.

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” - Thomas Jefferson

Knowing that our day of reckoning is rapidly approaching and with it the unavoidable chore of having to make serious and politically unpopular decisions, our current administration has decided on a tactic of distraction versus dealing with the matter at hand.  Their ace in the hole is the ever reliable and easily incited emotion of envy.  According to them our country’s economic doldrums are the result of those making $250,000 a year or more not paying enough taxes.  Forget such things as a shrinking tax base, increasing government regulation, and a growing sense of victimization.  No, it is the wealthy robbing the masses of their legitimate chance at achievement through their own success and not paying enough in taxes.  While almost half of Americans pay no income taxes as all, the only remedy to right our financial ship is raising taxes on those they determine to be wealthy and vilify them as not doing their fair share.  I contend it is the government that is the one not doing its fair share, though with no incentive from the voting public to do so who can really blame them.  While we all share in the services provided by government, having someone else pay is always more palatable.  Heaven forbid we do something as sensible as widen the tax base or massively curtail wasteful government spending before we go after the people already shouldering the majority of our economic burden.   
“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic. Sell not liberty to purchase power.” - Benjamin Franklin

A Frenchman that visited America not long after the Revolution predicted democracy would fail as the citizens realized they held the purse strings and based their voting on who promised to give them the most forcing the country into bankruptcy.  Even though we see multiple examples around the world today of what awaits us if we do not address our growing and unsustainable addiction to government assistance; we continue to do our best to ensure the Frenchman’s prophecy comes to fruition.  Unfortunately, common sense isn’t quite so common in America anymore.  Time and again we elect and reelect politicians that claim they have the answers to our problems.   Their solutions usually involve the expenditure of more public money and the expansion of government.  More government is never the answer nor does it address our essential issue – irresponsibility.  Debt is irresponsible, not taking control of your own life is irresponsible, relinquishing our freedoms and liberties, the very legacy of the United States, in order to be taken care of or address some politically manufactured sense of entitlement is irresponsibility personified.   

“We contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” - Winston Churchill

We now face what should be a very simple decision; unfortunately many will be persuaded by savvy political campaigns to complicate it.  The question is, who are we going to be?  Will we accept the patronizing belief of the current administration, one ardently embraced by the Democratic Party, that the individual is incapable handling of the rigors inherent with self-determination, so the guiding hand of government the only possible solution. The choice means maintaining the status quo of massive escalating national debt, cumbersome and intrusive government, along with never ending citizen supplied funding in terms of taxes and liberty.  Regardless of the propaganda peddling a utopian fantasy world where reality, responsibility, and consequences have no bearing, the ultimate outcome is our economic ruin and suppression.  The alternative is to support the reemergence of our essential belief in the individual and acceptance that our lives are the result of our own actions and decisions.  This choice will necessitate limiting government, self-reliance, and embracing responsibility.  But the rewards are uncapped possibilities, restoration of our inalienable rights, and the reemergence of the confidence and determination that made us the greatest nation on the planet.  Less government reliance will lessen the necessary tax burden.  Will we vote for the continued expansion of government, or will we restrain government as our founders intended, limiting our tax liability in the process while also freeing ourselves from the condescending constraints inherent with a big government welfare state. May we rise to the challenge and reject those with no faith in the American people, those that make it their mission to spread doubt and discontent.

“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful & tyrannical.” - Thomas Jefferson