Last week Charles Krauthammer wrote a column that I consider one of his best in quite a while, titled “The case against re-election.” In it, he examined Obama’s failed programs and legislation and the potential campaign strategy for Mitt Romney. Krauthammer’s most important point focused on how important it is for Mitt Romney – and now Paul Ryan – to campaign against Obama on ideological grounds.
There are two ways to run against Barack Obama: stewardship or ideology. You can run against his record or you can run against his ideas.
The stewardship case is pretty straightforward: the worst recovery in U.S. history, 42 consecutive months of 8-plus percent unemployment, declining economic growth — all achieved at a price of an additional $5 trillion of accumulated debt.
The ideological case is also simple. Just play in toto (and therefore in context) Obama’s Roanoke riff telling small-business owners:“You didn’t build that.” Real credit for your success belongs not to you — you think you did well because of your smarts and sweat? he asked mockingly — but to government that built the infrastructure without which you would have nothing.
Play it. Then ask: Is that the governing philosophy you want for this nation?
Exactly. And this is the question that Americans should have asked in 2008. But they were too preoccupied with the erupting financial crisis and Iraq fatigue to pay close attention to the ideological train wreck that was, and is, Barack Obama. No one should be surprised by what Obama has done, nor should they have been shocked by revealing, non-teleprompted comments such as “you didn’t build that” (“spread the wealth around“, anyone?). The Obama Rule was plain to see all along.
Barack Obama’s ideology has been out there, exposed to anyone who bothered to listen (certainly not the mainstream media). His ideology is, and always has been, his problem. Not his lack of experience. Not his birthplace or his religious affiliation or any of the other things that some on our side have blathered about.
It’s the ideology, stupid.
Krauthammer’s makes a stellar case for the Romney/Ryan camp to run strongly on ideology.
The ideological case, on the other hand, is not just appealing to a center-right country with twice as many conservatives as liberals, it is also explanatory. It underpins the stewardship argument. Obama’s ideology — and the program that followed — explains the failure of these four years.
Conveniently, Mitt Romney made this strategy much easier on Saturday. By selecting Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, he has made a stellar ideological choice. Ryan’s ideology is diametrically opposed to the Leftist mindset of Obama and his Democrat friends and provides a wonderful contrast to Mitt Romney’s more “stewardship-focused” story on the campaign trail.
Back in early 2010, I published a diary on Redstate titled “These are the words of a man who should be President”. It focused on a speech that Paul Ryan delivered to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs shortly after the passage of Obamacare. It’s no surprise that the passage of such an offensive and patently unconstitutional bill (no apologies to CJ John Roberts) would draw out a vociferous ideological response from a conservative like Ryan…and it did. In that speech, Ryan displayed his deep understanding of the profoundly broken “progressivist” ideology of Barack Obama and articulated a powerful opposing viewpoint focused on self-government, unalienable rights, the Constitution and limits on government power. This speech should be read by every American who opposes the intrusive, anti-liberty agenda of the Obama Progressivists. A few key items:
Americans are preparing to fight another American Revolution, this time, a peaceful one with election ballots…but the “causes” of both are the same:
Should unchecked centralized government be allowed to grow and grow in power … or should its powers be limited and returned to the people?
Should irresponsible leaders in a distant capital be encouraged to run up scandalous debts without limit that crush jobs and stall prosperity … or should the reckless be turned out of office and a new government elected to live within its means?
Should America bid farewell to exceptional freedom and follow the retreat to European social welfare paternalism … or should we make a new start, in the faith that boundless opportunities belong to the workers, the builders, the industrious, and the free?
We are at the beginning of an election campaign like you’ve never seen before!
Ryan said this in 2010, but it is equally applicable (if not more so) now. But wait, there’s much more:
This is not the kind of election I would prefer. But it was forced on us by the leaders of our government.
These leaders are walking America down a new path … creating entitlements and promising benefits that model the United States after the European Union: a welfare state society where most people pay little or no taxes but become dependent on government benefits … where tax reduction is impossible because more people have a stake in the welfare state than in free enterprise … where high unemployment is accepted as a way of life, and the spirit of risk-taking is smothered by a tangle of red tape from an all-providing centralized government.
It was true in 2010 and things have gone downhill since then.
The Progressivist ideology embraced by today’s leaders is very different from everything rank-and-file Democrats, independents, and Republicans stand for. America stands for nothing if not for the fixed truth that unalienable rights were granted to every human being not by government but by “nature and nature’s God.” The truths of the American founding can’t become obsolete because they are not timebound. They are eternal. The practical consequence of these truths is free market democracy, the American idea of free labor and free enterprise under government by popular consent. The deepest case for free market democracy is moral, rooted in human equality and the natural right to be free.
A government that expands beyond its high but limited mission of securing our natural rights is not progressive, it’s regressive. It privileges the powerful at the expense of the people. It establishes the rule of class over class. The American Revolution and the Constitution replaced class rule with a better idea: equal opportunity for all. The promise of keeping the earnings of your work is central to justice, freedom, and the hope to improve your life.
I have argued for years that we cede ground to the Democrats and Leftists by using the term “progressive” when referring to their philosophy. As Ryan states, nothing they prescribe remotely resembles “progress”. It is regressive. It returns us to the Middle Ages, where the King (government) ruled over the peons. Government dependency does not improve lives – it enslaves them to their King. Ryan’s description of progressivist regression takes us back to the Declaration of Independence, where the Founders stated “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. ” (Replace “King of Great Britain” with “President of the United States” and you have a perfect fit.)
Self-government stands or falls on integrity, not only in those who represent you but in the enactment of law. This indecency soiled our freedom and embarrassed the democracy we promote in other nations. And this may not be the last of it. To enact its transformative agenda, this leadership employs the Machiavellian saying that the end justifies the means. America was born in a revolution against that whole idea. Soon it will be the norm.
The Constitution and the consent of the people are all that stand between limited and unlimited government power. Zealous ideologues with the best of intentions brush aside the limits on power in order to get whatever they believe is good for the people … no matter what the people believe. Our system of freedom can survive an assault, but it won’t survive if the people are frightened, or angry, or asleep at the switch. A great Democrat, President Andrew Jackson, once said: “eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty.” We can thank our current leaders at least for this: they have awakened the nation to the danger of taking self-government for granted.
Congress is not only enacting a social welfare state agenda over the objections of the people. It is failing to address the problems that threaten to engulf our country, principally economic decline and entitlement-driven debt crisis. The coming election will be a referendum on the agenda of our current leadership. Either it will give them a mandate that says “more of the same,” or it will end the abuse of power and put America back on the path of growth and freedom.
Again, this was a prescient speech – it applied in 2010 and it does again in 2012. Unfortunately, the election of a conservative House of Representatives only took us partway to a solution. Now we must defeat Barack Obama and his Democrat crooks and liars (:cough: Harry Reid) in the Senate.
As I pointed out back in 2010, Ryan’s finale was a great one.
The question is, do we realign with the vision of a European-style social welfare state, or do we realign with the American idea?
My party challenges the whole basis of the Progressivist vision of this country’s future. We challenge their attack on American exceptionalism. We challenge their claim that bureaucratic centralization is the only way the US can meet the economic and social challenges of our time.
Those leaders have underestimated the good sense of the American people. They broke faith with independents, Republicans, and their own rank-and-file. They walked away from the foundational truths that made America the wonder and the envy of the world. The price of their infidelity will be high.
That is indeed the question. What is the vision that the people of the United States wish to pursue? That of a social welfare state buried beneath entitlement spending, or of a free nation with minimal governmental intrusion and a lessened chokehold of taxes and regulations upon its citizens?
Again, Krauthammer is right. He likes what he sees in the Ryan nomination.
“But second is also the shift in grounds, the dynamic of the debate — the argument from stewardship, from who can do a better job. to ideas,” he continued. “When Ryan spoke, he mentioned our rights are from nature and God. That’s a fairly fundamental idea. It isn’t even a policy. It’s a philosophy. He wants to make the debate about the philosophy of government and the policies that then follow. And I think by doing this they are now running on what is essentially an argument, ‘No to the status quo.’ It’s a complete reversal of 2008. Obama in 2008 was hope and change. ‘You don’t like status quo, we’ve got ideas.’”
“Now here are the Republicans four years later saying, ‘well, you had your shot at charisma with this idea of hope and change. It’s not hope and change. It’s a dismal, sort of declining America. We have the ideas. We have the policies. We’re willing to risk on them. We are willing to lead on them, lead from in front.’”
“And that’s what I think shifts the whole debate. It is a dynamic one about future, ideas and change. Change is now on the side of Republicans, where as it was on the policy of this side of the Democrats in 2008. And they can make a coherent case of that as we heard Ryan doing in his introductory remarks.”
Ryan certainly makes a coherent case for change…now, just as he did in 2010. His conservative ideology, matched with Mitt Romney’s executive experience and business acumen is a superb combination for the GOP ticket. Paul Ryan is a man who should be Vice President, and Mitt Romney is the man who should be President.