This was written a few years ago, all will be explained a the end of the post…
Although I am an avowed conservative and by association, am a member of the Republican Party, the following is not about party affiliation. It is about being American.
Our leaders have failed us. It has taken some 30 years since the Reagan revolution and the Republican wins in 1994 to expose the farce but now it is complete. We now have two candidates fully representative of this decline in a Democrat who is basically an empty suit filled with meaningless rhetoric and a Republican who is unwilling to engage the support of conservatives to win – in fact, he shows all appearances of not even wanting to win (can you imagine Reagan not taking advantage of the multitude of openings handed to McCain by Obama to expose his fatal flaws?). This is what we have brought upon ourselves in the process of moving to the much touted “middle” (read – mediocrity).
We have elected and supported a political class that routinely says anything necessary to get our votes and then “recalibrates” their positions for power, personal gain and a feeling of “going along to get along”. What passes for progress in Washington is now so far divorced from what is needed for the progress of America that it no longer bears any currency for the average citizen, the average businessman or almost anyone outside the beltway.
The leadership failures (all of them) of the current political class (R’s and D’s) are manifest in one singular failure and that is the failure to keep the USA as the top engine in the world for freedom, economic growth and innovation. Rush Limbaugh speaks of his belief in “American Exceptionalism” – this is the key. When one hears the word “can’t” over and over from our leadership, one knows that nobody thinks of us as Numero Uno any more. I challenge you to look back over the last two weeks and count the number of times a public official used the terms “can’t”, “won’t”, “lost” or “shouldn’t” – all negatives indicating in unwillingness or fear of doing something.
The world economy and the world power structure both are basically a pyramid scheme. If you aren’t on the top of the pyramid, you and your populace suffer. For a century, the USA was on top of that pyramid and enjoyed the fruits of that position. The only difference between then and now is that we have lost the belief that being #1 is the right thing to do, that we can responsibly continue to exploit (exploit is not a bad word) our own resources be they intellectual, natural or other to support our economy and we should try to bring freedom to the world (who are we to say that freedom is better than totalitarianism – we can’t judge).
As for the loss of belief in # 1, it is all around us. From elementary school sports not keeping score or kid’s baseball leagues cancelling All-Star games because it could harm self esteem, to the “Don’t Drill Democrats”…self defeatism in the name of some crazy belief that if we all lose, that equates somehow to “fairness”. I have a newly formed theory that the reason that our political class doesn’t want to be #1 is because with leadership comes hard decisions – decisions that will not be universally accepted and situations like Iraq, take a moral component to make. This kind of decision is such an anathema to the modern political operative that it is out of the question to make one.
Gas prices have less to do with speculation and supply concerns that they do with the lack of a positive and clear economic message from our leaders. We are very clear as to what we can’t do. We can’t explore for more of our own oil, we can’t win a war, we can’t execute trade agreements with other partners, we can’t use nuclear power…these are all the things that we are telling the world that we can’t do. This has resulted in a dollar at historic lows, interest rates that are driving capital out of our financial institutions, a stock market in free fall. The world looks at us with a very uncertain eye, they are perplexed at our inability to move forward and it is incomprehensible to most countries why we are so unwilling to be #1 in the world when they would give their right leg to be where we are. Failure in leadership, confusion, political agendas – this is what we, as an electorate have wrought.
Where can we go from here? Here’s my take:
- We have to return to a mindset that we, as Americans, are exceptional. No matter what we say, there is not a person out there that says every morning, “I’m going to be average today!” Even though it has taken a beating over the last 20 years or so, the spirit of exceptionalism still exists, it has just gone underground and taken a back seat to the sham of multi-culturalism.
- We need to keep score. The world is …through things like exchange rates, trade deficits, gas prices and political power. The world cares not for our self esteem.
- The current political class has to go and the bureaucracy that facilitates it must go as well. With some exceptions on both sides of the aisle, these people have failed us. We need to vote them out and we need to install some methodology of immediate redress when they violate a pledge to their constituents.
- Power must be put back in the hands of the people. When people no longer have a direct connection with their representative governance, they lose the ability to govern. We see this in low turnouts for national elections and the rise of “special interest” groups. We have to get government back to the concept that it derives its power from the consent of the governed, not in spite of that consent or lack thereof. Lack of consent is also a decision and sends a message. Choosing not to decide is also a de facto decision. In these days where one can view anything or purchase anything via the internet from the comfort of our own homes, having our political class isolated in Washington is obsolete. My senators and representatives should be spending 90% of their time in our state and 10% in Washington, not the other way around.
- Along with the changing of the political class, the era of “Big Government” has to end. The nature of any organism is to do what it takes to survive and grow and we see this in our current federal structure. Laws are passed that require other laws and regulations and the agencies to oversee them. Every law has unintended consequences that overtime costs us all some liberty or some of the fruits of our labor.
- We have to make decisions and move forward. The cultural perspective that says that everything is relative is a load of garbage; there are “right” and “wrong” decisions. As a business person responsible for a company, if I took the position that nothing is right or wrong, the business would fail and I would be out of a job.
Until we make a decision to demand better from our elected representatives and hold them accountable for their actions, we will continue to wallow in confusion and indecision. If anyone is happy with the status quo, this is an example of the future if we don’t change.
The stuff written above was posted in July of 2008 but originally written in 2006 – before the Republicans lost Congress and way before Obama. The bit about Obama ann McCain was added in a rewrite in 2008. I still stand by the logic as we ramp up to select a Republican nominee and eventually a new president in 2012. What I wrote over 5 years ago still stands true.