Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"The American Promise" vs. The American Dream - Response to an excerpt of President Obama's (last?) SOTU address


"[My grandparents] shared the optimism of a Nation that had triumphed over a depression and fascism. They understood they were part of something larger; that they were contributing to a story of success that every American had a chance to share – the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement. The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them." - President Barack Obama, January 24th, 2012

I agree with the president that no debate is more important or urgent than the debate over the continuation of that promise. That is because no debate is more important to the future of this coutnry than the debate over what powers the constitution grants the federal government, and in broad terms I found this excerpt to be a good example of the liberal economic perversion of that document.

In particular, I took notice of the President's use of the term “American promise,” in place of the more traditional “American dream”. I do not believe that to be an accidental, happenstance word choice, as the two terms are not interchangeable. A “dream” is a person's hope. It is a wish for something, an desire. As such, dreams are customizable based on the hopes, wishes and desires of each individual. My dreams are probably different than yours. A dream is something personal which somebody would LIKE to be able to have or to do, a goal they would LIKE to accomplish. A promise is very different. A promise is a guarantee. A promise is not a hope that something could happen, but a concrete assurance that it will. One who dreams has an objective to pursue; one who promises has an obligation to fulfill. By substituting this fabled “promise” in for the American dream, Obama tries to convince us that the government has such an obligation to us, that it has a duty to provide all of us with whatever the majority of people want. He lists a house, a college education, benefits for "traditional families", or money for retirement as examples. And in turn, he expects that we have an obligation to it: to accept and embrace these handouts, and to unquestioningly “work hard” in order to fund and support this loving, caring, protecting state. Or, as he puts it, to “contribute” to “something larger” which “every American had a chance to share”.

The truth is that the best thing Americans could possibly share is the recognition that there can be no such promises. Such promises have no place in American government, were never intended to exist, and they never did exist beyond the figment of your liberal imagination. The increasingly laughable attempts to stretch the framers words beyond all initial intent reminds us that such promises are unconstitutional. $15 trillion of debt and many more trillions in unfunded liabilities remind us that these promises are unsustainable. The unending stream of lies, flip-flops and contradictions of politicians in both parties remind us that such promises are empty. And the continued reelection those politicians reveals the motivations behind those who make such promises. They are made primarily by those who have discovered that elections can be won by making as many promises as possible to as many people as possible, if only they in turn will promise to vote for you.

The president seeks to align his “American promise” with the American dream, because promising that the government will fix everything that's wrong in our lives has been a surefire way to win and keep power ever since FDR. It will remain a safe campaign strategy until Americans learn that this collectivist rhetoric is the polar opposite of the American dream. The dream our fathers set forth is that of a nation that defends each individual’s rights life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Obama wants to swap the dream of pursuing our own happiness (however we choose to define it) with the promise of happiness itself (however the government defines it). That exchange should fill any freedom-loving person with dread. Americans should be equally worried about his promises to provide everybody a “fair shot” (however he defines it) instead of fair treatment. They should also be concerned that he seeks to ensure they do their “fair share” (however he defines it) instead of doing whatever they please to the extent it doesn't harm others.

In conclusion, the vision President Obama lays out is one of collectivism at its ugliest, and America at its least free. The President is totally right that we have to reclaim American values. But he is totally wrong about what those values are, what they have always been and what they’re listed as in the constitution. The president believes that the people have lost their way by distrusting the government that provides for them, rather than the government having lost its way by deviating from “We the people...” The president calls for us to set aside party differences to rally around this empty promise, but there can be no compromise with a worldview as fundamentally un-American as that which he sets forth. Finally, the President claims to want an America where “everyone plays by the same set of rules”. So do I. So Mr. Obama, here’s the government's official rulebook. It’s called the US Constitution, and it’s the only reason your job is allowed to exist. Please start playing by its rules.

2 comments:

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LD_wUNb0cw8

    Obama's quote is from 10:03 to 11:35 in this video.

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