The American Dream is dying. It is being strangled and constrained by Big Government. And if we don't renew our commitment to the founding values that gave birth to this nation and 240 years of unbridled prosperity, we risk destroying it. A fertile economy needs fertile soil. That soil requires liberty and liberty requires opportunity, the opportunity for Americans to succeed or fail on the merits of their ideas. It requires private capital pouring into free markets instead of being seized and managed by the state. It requires limited government that is more accountable to the people (think globally, govern locally) and works for the people's best interests, not the best interests of bureaucrats and the politically elite.
Our forefathers didn't come here because America was the land of tranquil servitude, they didn't come here for the entitlements or welfare or union jobs or because America guaranteed success. No, they risked everything, including their lives, to sail to a foreign land that offered nothing but hard, rugged work and sacrifice. But it offered something else, something greater than personal profit. It offered independence and opportunity, a place where they could speak freely and worship freely, where they could escape the overbearing taxation and authoritarian rule of European monarchies. It offered a chance to start their own enterprises and dream bigger dreams than anyone ever imagined. These brave men and women risked everything for a promise. That promise was a better life for their families and their grandchildren and their grandchildren's children. In that, they succeeded.
Over the past decade, but especially over the past two years, we've done everything imaginable to wreck that promise and spit on their hard work. We've gone from a nation that celebrated the independent spirit to a nation that seeks to make more families than ever dependent on government. We've gone from a nation that did a poor job of overseeing certain aspects of the financial market, to a country bent on overregulating and intruding in everything; from the life-saving treatments doctors can offer their patients to the pay of private sector employees, from subsidizing inefficient energy to injecting cash into failing companies.
The path our current leaders have laid out for us is fraught with peril. It goes against the exact principles that America was founded on. A blip in our economy has been turned into a crisis of political opportunity for those who wish to change this nation forever (as White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel said, "Never let a crisis go to waste.") Rather than adjust for the terrain and steer the ship gently forward, they wish to change our course completely. They see a large, centrally planned government as the solution to all our problems, but the exact opposite is true. Big Government is the problem, and it is making our economy and our way of life progressively worse.
When a large, centrally planned government picks winners and losers, the only winners are special interests and lobbyists. When a large, centrally planned government attempts to control and ration resources, it rations and controls prosperity. When a large, centrally planned government prohibits risks, it stifles entrepreneurship. And when a large, centrally planned government tries to ensure not equal opportunity for all, but instead an equal outcome for every individual regardless of their decisions, it tramples on personal liberties.
The hopes and dreams of Americans don't rest in the hands of bureaucrats. The American Dream doesn't rely on the creation of a new czar or government agency. The American Dream rests in the freedom of the individual and the hands of the people. We got to where we are today because of these values, not despite them, and we did it without the interference of a huge, overbearing nanny state. America isn't great because of our government or because our government knows best. America is great, because we, the people, are the government.
Never in my lifetime has the government ignored the will of the people as much as it does today. Never in my lifetime has the leadership in Washington attempted to confiscate and control as much private wealth as this government has attempted to take over. Never in my lifetime has a president organized his own army of protesters to demonstrate against those who protest his policies. During this unspeakable process, I have watched the economy tank, businesses close, and investors and consumers pull their money out of the suddenly not-so-free markets. As a small business owner, I now face the difficult decision of closing my shop or trying to salvage something out of this wretched and hostile business environment.
The American economy can't recover until the American spirit recovers. The American spirit can't recover until we dare to dream again, to imagine the impossible. To imagine the impossible, we must remove the constraints that we constantly place on the individual and the entrepreneur. We must not just protect our freedoms, we must encourage them to flourish.
We must stop enabling an obese and unfettered government to take resources away from hard-working families and communities. We must stop collecting the high taxes that we confiscate from our most successful people and businesses, for these are often the same people that have the resources to bet on visionary ideas and invest in research and development. This is a nation that put a man on the moon and invented the airplane and the computer. These are amazing accomplishments that were once considered impossible, spurred by visionaries encouraged to take risks. Where are the dreamers that can spur this innovation tomorrow?
Today, the dreamers are hindered by an ideology that is more concerned with restricting and taking from successful enterprises than encouraging new ones. They are hampered by a bureaucracy that rewards dependency. The poison that keeps our spirit barren and our economic soil from being fertile is called progressivism. It is the most tempting, most abused, and misguided ideology in the world.
Progressivism preys on the human heart. It takes the compassion we feel for those less fortunate than ourselves and uses it against us, not by encouraging us to give but instead by encouraging us to take. It teaches people to covet, to not be generous with the fruits of their own labor, but to start counting and redistributing other people's wealth. As a result, an economy of abundance is turned into a nation of hoarders. People hang on to their possessions more dearly. They become greedy and the state becomes even greedier. After all, the state has been granted license to steal.
Progressivism encourages man to play God. It is an ideology that seeps in where spiritual fulfillment is weakest. It usurps religion and grants man the power to experiment socially with the lives of fellow human beings in order to "fix" perceived injustices. It removes choices, both moral and personal, along with their consequences, from the person. The state institution will see you through now. It steps on the rights of the individual in the name of the greater good. If one man's rights can be threatened, any man's rights can be threatened, and as a result no one's rights are protected except for tyrants.
It is this ideology that Barack Obama and the far left have chosen to inject into the bloodstream of our nation. Not because they mean harm, but because the chance to play God is too seductive. The road to hell is always paved with good intentions. That is why progressivism is the most dangerous type of tyranny that exists. It is as far from our founding documents and the Declaration of Independence as you can imagine. It hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried, and it will divide our nation. It will destroy the spirited work ethic that we hold so valuable. Even Democrats such as Franklin Deleanor Roosevelt warned against it's unintended consequences. "Continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber... a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit."
That was in 1935. Today, we find ourselves much further down the slippery slope of government dependence. After years of social engineering and endless entitlement programs, we are much closer to economic bankruptcy and moral disintegration than ever. We are in the midst of a huge spiritual drought. If ever there was a time to renew and restore our faith in free enterprise, fiscal responsibility, limited government, independence, and God, that time is now. Let freedom ring.