I have been quiet about this year’s election, but not for lack of caring. The last few months have been extremely busy for me; to my shame, my busy schedule has meant that I have been silent about what is likely the most important presidential election in more than 30 years, not to mention extremely important battles for control of Congress, many governorships, and thousands of other state and local elections.
The first and most important thing that I want to say is this: go vote. Voting for our executive, legislative, and — at the local level, anyway — many judicial and administrative offices is a huge part of what makes this country special. It made America unique at the time of her founding, and it still makes us unique today for the orderly, peaceful, and overwhelmingly honest and fair way in which we manage transitions of power. So, vote. Please. If you don’t, you can’t complain when whomever we elect does things you don’t like. Yes, you may still have the constitutional right to complain about it, but the choice not to vote is a choice to waive any moral right to whine about the outcome. At the very least, it waives any chance of the rest of us taking you seriously. If you care about how this country — or your state, or your city — is run, go vote.
As for my take on the election, well, I don’t expect to persuade anyone here and now, but I have to share my thoughts anyway, just in case.
I am a conservative first and foremost, in the tradition of Edmund Burke. My heroes are people like Ronald Reagan and Russell Kirk. In this post, if I can accomplish nothing else (beyond reminding you again to go vote), I hope to outline briefly why conservatism is the only safe choice for this election. I am not going to delve into social issues such as abortion, not because they are not important, but because, realistically, how we vote in this election has little to no impact on these issues.
Our nation is at great risk, due to years of inattention to the federal budget, a military with aging equipment and little new materiel coming online, and a foreign policy that is naive at best and timid, even spineless, at worst. Government increasingly intrudes upon the lives of average citizens, making it harder and harder to afford a good education; harder for our teachers, schools, and universities to pursue knowledge and learning rather than focusing first and foremost on the bottom line; harder to get and keep a good job; harder to start and run a business; and harder even to exercise everyday rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience. Every new statute, rule, regulation, executive order, permit requirement, or other government action serves only to make government’s powers larger at the expense of the rights of the people. More startling still, those powers are increasingly concentrated in a national — not federal — government, of which, as Reagan warned, the states are becoming mere administrative districts. Our democratic federalism is dying, and it is being replaced by a monolithic, paternalistic government of bureaus, administrations, agencies, and czars.
The result is this: our official national debt is 16 trillion dollars — that’s $16,000,000,000,000 — and counting, or more than $51,000 per citizen. But the real story is far, far worse. By the standards that public companies must use (known as GAAP), the government has unfunded liabilities in excess of $120 trillion, or more than $1,058,000 per taxpayer. And it only gets worse; every time the government passes a “stimulus” package which fails to stimulate, engages in quantitative easing, or even repairs a pothole, that number — and your share of it — gets bigger. This is scary enough when we are only talking about legitimate functions of government, such as defense and administration of a justice system. But that’s not all we’re talking about; we are also buying countless handouts to private parties, pork-barrel projects, and a reality in which more people than ever are on food stamps, even as it gets harder for employers to offer good jobs due to the crushing regulatory and tax burdens they face.
To fund all of this, we are borrowing trillions of dollars from China, Japan, Brazil, Russia, Taiwan, Switzerland, and so on. Even worse: the single biggest creditor of the United States government is our own Social Security system, which, when combined with other federal pension systems, holds 5 trillion dollars in federal debt. Who will be left holding the bag for that? Our children and even my own generation, because the debt train will run out of track long before we reach retirement. We need to spend less. We need fiscal responsibility, but our elected officials don’t seem to have any.
Meanwhile, our military is weak. Our navy and coast guard have aging ships, and fewer of them than anytime in the last decades. The air force is flying old and increasingly obsolete planes, leaving us entirely dependent on drones to project air power; it’s not the same, and it’s not enough. The army drives vehicles that are ill-equipped for a world of IEDs and fighting wars in which the enemy does not always do us the courtesy of wearing uniforms. Our ever-faithful marines are underfunded, with all of the problems of the other forces. Our elected officials seem to think the military is an obsolete relic of a dangerous world that no longer exists, which we can always “turn on” again if the world becomes dangerous. Yet that same military is engaged in multiple undeclared wars and countless “peacekeeping” missions, even as our nation’s diplomatic representatives come under attack and die due to a lack of security. We need to maintain a strong defense, but we are at risk of losing it.
We need a foreign policy that other nations respect, even if they do not find it pleasant. There is a reason that President Obama has been endorsed for reelection by the likes of Putin, Chavez, and Castro, and it is not that they think he is strong. We need a president who recalls that he is President of the United States of America, not of the world, and who bows to no one.
Our country was founded on a simple idea: the people, not their rulers, are supreme. They have endowed the government with certain powers; the government has not bestowed upon the People the rights that they received from their Creator. The Founding Fathers gave us an intricate system, balancing the need for unity with the demands of individualism, local needs with national interests, and the need for a strong government with the even more important need that it never be too powerful. It’s time to reclaim their great idea, and restore a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, not of technocrats and career politicians, by the same, for the same.
It’s time for some real hope and change — hope for a stronger future, in which America is prosperous, strong, and free, and in which Americans do not fear their own government’s excesses. It’s time for a real conservative. Not a neoconservative who runs up our debt and needlessly engages in protracted wars, not a statist who sees government as the solution, but a Reaganite conservative who sees government for what it is: the problem, not the solution.
As in 2008, I am again endorsing Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates for office. Governor Romney is a proven leader and strong conservative, as is his running mate, Paul Ryan. They are merely men, with no pretensions to be more than men, but they are good men and proven leaders. I honestly believe that this presidential ticket is the most genuinely conservative ticket this country has seen since Reagan proclaimed that “it’s morning in America.” They are the right choice for America in this election cycle. When you vote, please vote for these proven leaders and all of the others who want to get this country back on track by restoring the proper balance between the People and their government.
If you are so inclined, please consider donating to help Governor Romney and Representative Ryan bring real hope back to America.