Today is the day. Election day. Finally. If you have not already voted early, today is the day for you to do so. To vote. It is a rare and wonderful right that we possess as citizens of a magnificent and exceptional country. But in this election it is especially so. Certainly each individual candidate has his or her own distinctive strengths and weaknesses, his or her own policies they seek to support or oppose. And while those considerations should be given their due weight, try to put those aside for a moment and think about something much larger. No matter the personal peculiarities of the contestants, and their specific policy views, the decisions we make about those whom we choose to send to Washington will have far-reaching consequences for the greater future of this country, and for your own future as well. For this is a time to decide what kind of nation we want America to be.
The Democrats, and their leader President Obama, have made the choice a very clear one from the start. They believe that a large and expanding central government offers the best solutions to the problems we face as a nation. Obama, himself, has repeatedly said that government—and only government—can adequately address the challenges we have before us. On the other hand most Republicans—at least those who are truly conservative—see things the other way. That individuals, living and acting for themselves and interacting with one another through free exchange, are best able to make their own decisions about their own lives. Indeed, government, they argue, has proven itself capable of only getting in the way; and the larger and more intrusive government becomes, the more it gets in the way, or worse. It is an age-old struggle: the freedom of the individual against the ever-encroaching power of the government.
The “Progressive” ideology advanced by Obama, and his followers in Congress, maintains that America must always be moving forward—changing, transforming, progressing ever-closer toward becoming something, and that the power and machinery of government are to be fully utilized in that endeavor. But becoming what? Becoming what they see as their idea of the ultimate society. It is a grand vision they have. One in which the individual, and the choices allowed to the individual about his employment, his compensation, his finances, his health, where he lives, how he moves about, what he eats, what he drinks, the air he breathes, and even the very speech he utters, are all in one way or another, monitored, measured, influenced, controlled or compelled by government. It is a vision of a nation and society where everyone pulls together in a common purpose and towards a common goal, a goal that is predetermined by government, or specifically by a small elite within government.
And this goes to the prime difference between the ideology of Liberal-Progressivism, as embraced by the Democrats, and the conservative philosophy of Republicans and the Tea Party groups that are having such an influential role within the Republican Party and in this election. And that difference is this: Progressives start with a vision—their vision—of what society should be and they seek, through government, to compel individuals to comply with that which is needed to bring about that utopian vision. Conservatives, on the other hand, start with an understanding of individual human nature—its strengths and its weaknesses, its aspirations and its limitations—and upon that foundational understanding, they craft the rules upon which to build a successful government and society.
The Progressive belief in a common, top-driven, overriding principle of society has been tried before, in many nations and at many times throughout human history. It has come forward in many guises, under many banners, called many different names, but it is always the same and it has always failed. Indeed, it has done much worse than fail, it has destroyed; destroyed economies, destroyed societies, destroyed cultures, destroyed families and destroyed lives.
History has shown us that great civilizations will rise and they will fall. But to the extent that they have succeeded, it has always been because they have stayed true to their founding principles. If they have failed, it is because they have strayed from them. If our founding fathers were alive today, being the men they were, as champions of a limited, judicious and ethical government, knowledgeable as they were about human nature and the tragedies of human history, how do you think they would vote in this election? How would they decide the question: what kind of nation do we want to be?
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