by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
AMERICANS ARE an aspirational people. We have a tradition–evident even before we became independent–of a dynamic country, one that has wide scope for individual initiative in all facets of life; that has a vibrant civil society; that is oriented toward risk-taking and accepts the hit-or-miss nature of experiments with innovation and their possible failure; that has a profound belief in self-improvement, which dates back to Benjamin Franklin; and that creates ever greater material abundance by enabling its people to discover and develop their talents to the fullest.
This view of America was personified by Ronald Reagan, whose uplifting and inspiring persona was rooted in a profound belief in the basic goodness, strength, generosity and, dare we say it, exceptionalism of the American people. We are not just one country among many, and we do indeed have a special destiny. …
… The contrast with Obama’s western European-style vision for the country is stark and depressing. He is taken with the socialist environment of western Europe, where dynamic markets are scorned and feared, where people are constantly calculating their future pensions and other benefits while striving to work fewer hours each week and to retire as early as possible, and where security and predictability are prized above risk-taking and innovation. Taxes go up, government spending goes up, rules and prohibitions proliferate, job mobility and flexibility are severely restricted, and dependence on government is encouraged. Passivity trumps enterprise.