I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

- de Tocqueville 1831

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Message?

Imagine that you are the parent of nine children.  Three children are three years of age,  three are nine and three are  sixteen, seventeen and eighteen, respectively.  Now imagine that your children get to vote for who their parents are.  The opponent who is running against you has several credit cards and has promised to use those cards to supply the three and nine year olds with almost anything they want. The teenagers will have to work to help pay off the debt.  Given these circumstances, would you, as a loving and caring person, be voted in as their parent?  It is understood that sometime in the future the debt of those credit cards will have to be paid by the kids.  The teenagers would realize that this is not a good situation and would more than likely vote for the more responsible parents.  The three year olds would believe your opponents when they told them that they are "entitled" to all the candy they can eat and  that it is wrong that you insist on a bedtime.  The election outcome may pivet on the nine year olds.  What would your message be?

The situation described above is similar to what conservatives who run  for office face.  One third of the electorate will vote Republican, one third will vote Democrat and the other third will decide the outcome of the election.  We have recently had Republicans who have shifted left to gain office.  They have bought into the notion that they must promise to give things in order to get elected.  Conservatives will never win in a contest of desirable outcome.  We see that these outcomes are not possible.  We also see that the debt incured by promising welfare entitlements is bankrupting the country. Sharing the wealth that other people have earned is a disincentive to those earning it, thus crippling the economy.  Not to mention it is just wrong to give to other people someone else's gain.

Given this situation, can a conservative who remains true to his principles get elected?  Can someone run on the idea that we need to scale back on the "give away" programs run by the Federal government?  An example of what is run by the feds that could be more effectively handled by the states is the Department of Education.  Ronald Reagan tried to eliminate this department that he called "Carter's boondoggle".  He was met with fierce opposition by the very powerful teacher's unions.  We, as a society, have become so used to how much the Federal government is in are lives that there is real fear in losing our security net  (regardless of the tremendous waste that we all know occurs in Washington).

There were two people who were able to get elected to the office of president that did not promise a laundry list of goodies.  One said, "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what can you do for your country."  This was followed up by, "My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."  The other said, "Goverment is not the solution to our problem, goverment  is the problem".  In spite of  the messages (or maybe because of them),  they were both very popular.  It gives me hope for this country that Ronald Reagan and John F.Kennedy could talk of a vision for our country that did not consist of our goverment taking care of us and still get elected.

When I talked to my wife about my "nine children" analogy,  she was quite certain that she would be elected as their mother.  When pressed, she explained that she could convey, even to the three year olds,  the ramifications of their decisions.  Upon further reflection, I believe that she is right.

 One obvious reason is the bond between parents and their children.  Their is a bond that we share as Americans, as well.  When I compare the words of Obama to those of Reagan, I notice that where Obama  uses the word, "I", Reagan used words such as, "we" and  "fellow Americans".  Where Obama talks of how America should be,  Reagan spoke of America's greatness.  There has never been a greater nation than the United States of America and that fact has to be part of our message.

We expect our children to act in a proper manner.  I believe that we should expect upright behavior from our leaders as well as ourselves and America will respond to that message.  We have lowered expectations for our leaders and they in return view us as the three year olds in my analogy.  We complain about how crooked politians are and yet we continue to elect them.  Is it for the goodies they promise us?  They certainly think so.  Our message needs to be that there are expectations for both the electorate and the elected .

Sincerity is the key ingredient in the making of our message.  Good parents know that they need to be honest and direct with their children as well as consistent.  One reason President Reagan was so popular is that the people could see that he actually tried to do what he said he would do.  One example of this was his budget proposals.  Every budget he submitted to congress was balanced, as promised.  Speaker of the House at the time, Tip O'Neill, would declare Reagan's budget proposals "dead on arrival" refusing to take responbility for cutting spending.    

Where my analogy does not fit is in the fact that we want as little government involvement in our lives as  possible.  Yet it is the goal of good parents to raise their children in such a manner that they will become independent adults.  If liberals raise their children in the way they run the government, I can't imagine their kids ever leaving home.    



Kerri said...

I think it all starts with teaching kids to take responsibility - for themselves, for those around them but especially for their own actions and the consequences that result from them. That's what a lot of adults voting for all this spending are doing - ignoring the consequences. But what to do?

goddessdivine said...

It's like Margaret Thatcher said: "Socialism is a great idea until you run out of other people's money." What's really scary is that the near 50% of those who don't pay any federal taxes get to vote. There's something wrong with that.

Personally, I would cut up the parents' credit cards.

rocslinger said...

GD, It was only supposed to be land owners who had the right to vote. I would be willing to allow those who pay rent but you should have something invested before you can vote.

Nightdragon said...

That's a great point about Obama using "I" over Reagan's "we." Self-centered Prez for a self-centered generation.

A conservative has a hard time getting elected based on his principles, unless he tries to disguise his principles in some pseudo-hippy type manner vis-a-vis the Conservatives in the U.K. with their "Big Society" slogan. Conservative values don't appeal much to those who want everything but accept personal responsibility for nothing.

rocslinger said...

Nightdragon, thank you for your comment. In the U.S. I think that right now might be the time that
the conservative message of personal responsibility would appeal, I hope so, if not we will soon know the misery that Europe is suffering.

How does the conservative party in the UK compare to the right in the US?
Are the Tea Party people considered whacko's by the average Englander?

Nightdragon said...

Roc, the average Englander does indeed regard the Tea Party brigade as a whacko element -- but alas, we could be as socialist a country as the U.K. likes to present itself as, and they'd still find something to quibble about with us. They'll never quite get over the fact that our influence and our form of English has far overtaken theirs ...

Mind you, conservative though I may be, I'm not totally in the Tea Party camp myself. It takes more than plain speaking to lead a movement; it takes intelligence and more than a shred of awareness of world-affairs, and that's my big problem with Sarah Palin and those who hang on to her every word.

I don't see why American conservatives have to be so gung-ho in their approach. We need to learn how to be more dignified if our values are to be respected ... in the U.S. as well as elsewhere. We just simply get too worked up and that's our biggest problem.

If the Democrats would just jettison the far-Left morons and the Republicans would ditch the Creationist, "I-shoot-anything-that-moves-with-this-here-gun-of-mine," American politics would suddenly be a lot less histrionic. We really have let the nutjobs run the asylum and that is why American politics are so laughable to everyone else ... and I can see their point. It is something of an embarassment.

rocslinger said...

Dragon, I am probably more to the right than you but I understand what your saying about the extreme elements in both parties. What is lost in the whole mix is what the original intent of our founding fathers was. While the left can say that our constitution is a living document I vehemantly disagree. It is, in my oppinion, a document that grounds are government in ethical governance. Today morality has been turned on it's ear, how is it moral to take what someone has earned and give it to someone else? I suggest that you read the link that I have on the post I wrote about government charity.

I suspect that you might have a slanted view of the Tea Parties because of the biased news coverage. In a nut shell their basic message is stop spending our children and grandchildren into abject poverty.

Thank you for your thoughtfull insights and I hope to read from you again.

Nightdragon said...

Don't get me wrong, Roc, I definitely line up with most of the things the Tea Party wants. I was also enthused by the Contract With America (I think, if only they'd stuck to it!), and this conservative rebellion definitely has overtones of Clinton-era rebellion. It's good to see. Again, my biggest fear is that the nutcases are going to hijack this and the moderate members of the conservative rebellion AREN'T speaking out against them. We allow the loonies in, we all get tainted. This is what sticks in my craw about the whole thing.

I dunno, I guess I may still have a bit of liberal rebel to my character, something that has never disappeared. I believe fervently in authority and law-and-order, but occasionaly take pleasure in mocking it. I'm Right-wing, but a maverick one.

I defintely agree with you though: There's nothing moral about taking away from the well-off or at least the comfortable to bestow upon someone else who likely doesn't deserve it because they've done very little to nothing to help themselves. The willful giving away of stuff is called charity; the taking of monies from those who work hard for it is called stealing. I'm reminded of a bumper sticker I once saw. It said, "Don't steal. The gov't doesn't like competition." Sums it up. Whatever else I may be, I'm no socialist, I assure you of that.

rocslinger said...

Dragon, I hear you and I'm glad that we are of the same mind. The vast majority of the tea party movement are people who have finally gotten fed up with the hi-jacking of our government. The only place that I have seen the nut jobs is on the main stream media outlets. I have enjoyed our give and take here. when I started this blog one of my goals was to have a forum in which ideas could be bantered back and forth. I hope that our time here will encourage others to join in on the "fun".

Kerri said...

I gotta say, I'm more in the line of thinking with Nightdragon (something I know you're well aware of as my hubs). But basically, the thinking rolls the same way with conservatives.