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Tuesday
May042010

Reagan's First Inaugural

We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding -- we’re going to begin to act beginning today. The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?

All of us together -- in and out of government -- must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable with no one group singled out to pay a higher price. We hear much of special interest groups. Well our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries, or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we’re sick -- professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truck drivers. They are, in short, “We the People.” This breed called Americans.

The rest here.

Wednesday
Apr282010

Reagan, 1964: "A Time For Choosing"

Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to." And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.

And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I'd like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There's only an up or down: [up] man's old -- old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

The rest here.

Monday
Apr262010

Barry Goldwater's 1964 GOP Convention Speech

"Now, we Americans understand freedom. We have earned it; we have lived for it, and we have died for it. This Nation and its people are freedom's model in a searching world. We can be freedom's missionaries in a doubting world. But, ladies and gentlemen, first we must renew freedom's mission in our own hearts and in our own homes....

....Now those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. They -- and let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions, ladies and gentlemen, of equality. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism."

Rest the rest (and listen to it) here.

Friday
Apr232010

Jonah Goldberg's Essay on President Obama's Socialism

NRO's Jonah Goldberg has a new, lengthy, essay in Commentary entitled "What Kind of Socialist is Barack Obama?" (Danger, Will Robinson!)

It is well-worth the time to read, as it is full of what I might call contemporary, easily digestible political theory. A sample:

In many respects, Barack Obama’s neo-socialism is neoconservatism’s mirror image. Openly committed to ending the Reagan era, Obama is a firm believer in the power of government to extend its scope and grasp far deeper into society. In much the same way that neoconservatives accepted a realistic and limited role for the government, Obama tolerates a limited and realistic role for the market: its wealth is necessary for the continuation and expansion of the welfare state and social justice. While neoconservatism erred on the side of trusting the nongovernmental sphere—mediating institutions like markets, civil society, and the family—neosocialism gives the benefit of the doubt to government. Whereas neoconservatism was inherently skeptical of the ability of social planners to repeal the law of unintended consequences, Obama’s ideal is to leave social policy in their hands and to bemoan the interference of the merely political.

 

Wednesday
Mar102010

George Washington Cautions Obama

President George Washington was no political philosopher, but I came across this quote of his the other day which seemed stunningly applicable to today.

Washington said, "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action."

Could this not be a retort to President Obama in a speech given today?

Washington's underlying point is critical. Government is a giant, intrusive, and often counter-productive entity. It cannot be managed like a corporation or directed by eloquent rhetoric. The process of enacting law is extremely messy-- the bigger the legislation, the bigger the mess. For this reason, government ought to be confined and limited to certain select functions and not venture into being a market-managing, social engineering, everything-to-everyone force. Many have claimed to be able to be the ones who can finally run government efficiently because of their compromise ability or management skills or eloquence. We see this very prevalent today with our current president. If I can only give that 67th speech on healthcare, things will begin falling into place. But in fairness to President Obama, he is not nearly the first to attempt such a leadership tactic.

If one truly wanted to run a more manageable government, the only way to do so would be to significantly limited its scope, cut its size, and focus on reforming and improving a handful of its essential functions. Until then, President Washington is brilliant to compare government to fire. It sure can be useful, but don't complain when you frequently get burned.