In statements, placards, and his latest book summarizing his policies and favorite speeches, Sen. Obama says he wants to "renew America's promise." But does he know what it is? Do we know? Editor: Jeff Bull of Denver is the founder of a new political website (and perhaps, as a result, a new movement comparable to, but more clearheaded than, the MoveOn movement) called GrowUp.org. I encourage you to check it out and sign up. This piece appeared the other day as one of GrowUp's periodic email bulletins. Read on, you'll like what's here...
The American promise is most fundamentally the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" as described in our Declaration of Independence. Our government is to be primarily concerned with the rule of law, property rights, and equality of opportunity - as opposed to trying to ensure equality of outcomes by creating different rules for different people.
America was the first society to minimize class distinctions and actually encourage the opportunity of the poor to become rich. Work hard and anyone could achieve the American dream (i.e. fulfill the American promise). The founders argued forcefully against the idea of nobility and titles and class - there were to be no rulers over the people.
Yet today we hear more and more from the left about the crucial importance of class distinctions. About the need for government to take greater control of everything in order to save us from ourselves, our circumstances, or even from nature. We see an incredible expansion of victims (real or perceived) looking for retribution. A far cry from JFK's inaugural exhortation to "ask not what your country can do for you."
In his Democratic nomination acceptance speech, Senator Obama defined the American promise as "the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper." That communitarian theme unified his domestic and foreign policy positions. "That's the promise we need to keep," Obama continued. "That's the change we need right now."
The founders and early Americans that fought for the freedom inherent in America's promise would certainly shudder at a government interested in the temperature of your home, the type of transportation you use, or the food you eat. At a government that wants world opinion to dictate right and wrong to America. Senator Obama says that is appropriate.
We are certainly well beyond the purpose of government as originally intended, and it is hard for me not to fear the potential tyranny of such intrusions and beliefs. Don't you?
So why did this split occur and is there any way to unite the sides?
As conservative economist Thomas Sowell notes, both political sides "would undoubtedly be happier living in the kind of world envisioned by the left." That's why so many young people (in age or maturity) are on the left. But the crux of the issue and source of the split, as Sowell concludes (and I think evidence abounds), is that "the real world in which we live is very different from the world that the left perceives today or envisions for tomorrow."
Because of this different vision of the world and its future (ideal versus real), it has become increasingly clear that the sides do not merely disagree about the means to the same end, but also the end in itself. As conservative columnist Dennis Prager comments, "the right and the left do not want the same America," and "calls for a unity among Americans that transcends left and right are either naïve or disingenuous. America will be united only when one of them prevails over the other. The left knows this. Most on the right do not."
So if we no longer share the same, original understanding of America's promise, it is critically important that we look honestly and realistically at how it would be changed by an empowered left. How this election will impact our future.
The underlying theme and crucial difference is that the left thinks you need government to do more for you (and therefore, by definition, you to do less for yourself). See sidebar "The New New Deal?" for a great example. Note that in Senator Obama's "brother keeping" America, it is government taking from one brother to give to another. And you fear "Big Brother" now?
But I really appreciate Sachs' and Obama's honesty - and you should be honest with yourself. Is that what you want? How often do they have to tell you what they are going to do before you believe them? How much change like this does our country really need, or can it survive?
By voting for Senator Obama, please understand that you are conceding your inability to succeed without government patronage (which of course can only be provided by taking rights and money from someone else). That you cannot handle life in the freest country on earth, and you think that government, however benign, is going to make things better for you by taking more control from you.
But has increased government involvement and spending decreased poverty, or improved education, or reduced the cost of healthcare? Will more government involvement and spending really change the earth's climate or reduce natural disasters? Does our spending less on national defense end war or terrorism?
Please also understand that the party against the (productive, sometimes greedy) rich will get fewer of them. And the party for the (helpless, usually bitter) victim will get more of them. Not exactly the way out of economic (or even social) difficulties. Or honoring the real American promise. As if envy is less of a sin than greed.
As an ordinary American (along with another 299 million or so of you), I am petrified by where this is going. More governmental control in all areas of our lives. More class warfare. Dissent isn't just unpatriotic, it's racist. Forget the rampant privacy violations of the Patriot Act (actually, still waiting for one), just don't disagree with President Obama or the left will give you the Palin family or Joe the Plumber treatment.
Why has Senator Obama raised unprecedented funds for his campaign? The reason so much money is invested in politics in general and this election in particular is that politicians, bureaucrats, and judges have unprecedented control of our lives and are looking for more. The only way to decrease the money in politics is to decrease the size and scope of government.
That's not the change the left and Senator Obama believe in. Their goal is nothing short of a new American promise where a strong government and a weak people try to create heaven on earth. As Obama stated, "I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth." We need to all remember where the path of good intentions leads - and it's not to heaven.
It is the freedom to succeed (and fail) that has made our country the last best hope of earth. Not universal health insurance or carbon offset credits. Will we stand and fight for what's left of that freedom, or sit and accept our helpless place waiting for our government superiors to save us? All hail the One? Is our country that bad? Are you that helpless?
May God still bless America.