It is my distinct pleasure to introduce a brand new contributor here at AR. His name is Chris Hynes, and many moons ago he was a student at the school where AR Editor John Feeny wields his iron fist. Thankfully, he survived, and he has since become a second beacon of conservatism in Feeny’s misbegotten-but-lovely state of Rhode Island. I hope we hear a lot from Chris in weeks and months to come. — Jeff
The Path We Took
by Christopher Hynes
“Over the next few years, big decisions will be made in Washington, on jobs and the economy; taxes and deficits; energy and education; war and peace — decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives and our children’s lives for decades to come. On every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America. A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future.” –Barack Obama, 9/6/12
As President Barack Obama’s speech closed out the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, I found myself nodding and emphatically agreeing with the inflated rhetoric of the “leader of the free world” for the first time in, well, ever. After all, the man was right – in about 6 weeks, we Americans could very well be deciding the fate of our nation. On the one hand, we have a conservative push to (at least try to) return the United States to the founding principles that were laid out so carefully over two centuries ago. On the other hand, under the guise of progress and change, the president and his ilk are suggesting we move elsewhere, or “Forward.”
Given the greatness that America has achieved by following the words and actions of a group of liberty-seeking thinkers borne out of 18th century tyranny, this “forward” is the exact opposite direction we should want to go. One of the slogans unveiled at the DNC speaks precisely to this point, which will be addressed momentarily. First, however, in order to truly shed light upon where it is, exactly, that these Democrats would like to take the American people, some historical context is necessary.
At the chaotic, oftentimes violent, and eventual philosophic birth of our nation, the Founders knew that, based on the lessons learned through contemporary and past instances of governments of failure, of oppression, or even of those of noble beginnings but with eventual and inherent shortcomings – in addition to their reliance on the wisdom and teachings of men such as Locke and Montesquieu – they had a chance to create a nation that was unlike any other the world had ever seen. This magnificent experiment in self-government was pored over and revealed in documents that rejected despotism and tyranny (The Declaration of Independence) and embraced the right of the people to represent themselves in the pursuit of self-liberty (The Constitution).
These bold, judicious designs were meant to separate this grand pursuit of a new nation from, and render it independent of, all other entanglements and factions meant to oppress men, so that the citizenry of America would be free to achieve greatness, not through a limiting government, but instead by limiting government. It was to be markedly different. It was to be profoundly unique. This “empire of liberty” was to be the new measuring stick by which the world was to define free men. That such a large faction of the 21st-century descendants of these principles seeks to assess comparatively the greatness of our nation based on the conceptions and the scrutinies of foreign influences tears apart the very quintessence of the original idea that was the United States of America.
Subtly buried in the introductory video to the Democratic National Convention were the words, “Government is the only thing we all belong to.” And while their Party made a dishonest and half-hearted effort to disown the quote, it sums up the exact direction in which it wishes to move our country. From an alphabet soup of regulatory agencies, to encouraging the widespread use of and dependence on food stamps, to a health care law that wraps its claws around the givers and the takers alike, to the granting of privileges of citizenship to illegal immigrants, to the federal reserve that prints money the nation does not have in an effort to breathe life into the corruption wrought over years of foul play, we have experienced an unending sequence of events, laws, and fiats that all have one thing in common – tying the individual to the government and thereby fostering dependency, for better or for worse. And while Barack Obama by no means created the so-called progressive welfare state, he certainly has no intent to end it and is perpetuating the “forward”-thinking statist idea that more government is the answer to everything, and that Americans themselves do not have the right the answers.
Instead of looking inward for solutions, we look abroad, at tried and tested systems and theories that are abject failures. Instead of American greatness, we seek appeasement, a policy that has done nothing but render us weak among our enemies and, most recently, has led to coordinated attacks on our embassies. Instead of falling back on the idea that America has always been a leader because of its uniqueness and willing to stand apart from the rest of the world, we look to other countries for not only their example but also, it seems, for their blessing. This sort of thinking is not only ruinous, it’s fundamentally un-American.
We do not belong to the government; the government belongs to us. What binds our citizenry together, through the words set forth in the Constitution, is that we make the government run. And, in doing so, we create the national spirit that drives the individual to do great things because he is free from government to do so. During the first presidency, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington had but one goal in mind: maintain the union. This was done not through the size of the government, but through the strength of the government, as well as through advancing strictly American interests. This strength was not so much in government’s ability to control the individual, but rather, in giving the individual the solid foundation through which he could govern himself. In the government, the individual should find a source of national pride because it is run by, and therefore reflects, the individual and his own ideals.
The statist mentality that has overcome our government and with which the Left seeks to move “forward” does just the opposite. Instead of the individual controlling himself through the government, the government has increasingly encroached on the individual’s liberty in an attempt to become in and of itself the source of the individual’s idea of the nation. We should not be looking to government for answers; The government should be looking to us for answers because, after all, it is ours. If we deem it necessary that the government build those now notorious roads and bridges, the government should be dependent on us in order to make it happen, as it is our capital, our work, and our enterprise that have rendered these things necessary.
If looking back by returning to the very core of our founding principles is how we return to the greatness we once had, and are still capable of having, then looking “forward” can only mean the opposite. We did not create democracy, and we did not create republicanism, but we’ve come as close to perfecting it as the world has ever seen. Now, moving “forward,” we are on the brink of annihilating it. As the president has said: “two different paths… two fundamentally different visions for the future.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Chris Hynes, a former student of AR Editor John Feeny’s, is a brand-new contributor here at America’s Right. To find out more about Chris, visit his contributor page HERE.