The Re-Creation of the New American ManJuly 4, 2011 is a day of celebration, and so it will be for most Americans. They will celebrate independence, the independence of the former colonies from Great Britain, the establishment of America as an independent nation, the one exceptional and indispensable nation among all nations. But most of all, they will celebrate the independence of the American spirit, for the creation of America was, in a very real sense, the creation of a new man. Marxists and Socialists are obsessed with creating the new man. Americans—as Americans tend to do—simply ignored government and did it themselves. We need to do it again.
The new American owed allegiance to a voluntary confederation of fellow Americans. He honored no king, no all-powerful nanny state. He expected to prosper on the strength of his own character and the fruits of his own labor. The truth was important to him, and the nation was built on the strength of each man’s word and sealed by handshakes. He indulged in no juvenile cults of personality and chose his leaders—men such as George Washington—based on their character and accomplishments, character and accomplishments that were well known and demonstrated and renewed day by day, just as his character and accomplishments were demonstrated and renewed day by day.
The new American—and many generations to come—lived by simple, basic principles: hard work, honesty, doing what was right, living within their means while working to increase not only their means, but the means of their children. He understood deferring pleasure to a better, more secure day and he understood self-sacrifice. He was willing to help his neighbors because he knew that they lived their lives as he did, and that they were willing to help him for the same reasons. For him, laziness and a lack of industry were debilitating character flaws, not victimhood to be embraced and rewarded.
America was born an exceptional nation by virtue of her people and their creation: The Constitution. They understood all too well what we seem to have forgotten. When we turned our backs on self-sufficiency and hard work, when we became victims instead of doers, when we began to believe that character didn’t really matter, when we came to see the truth as nothing more than slippery rhetoric in the service of individual, selfish agendas, when we stopped being willing to pay our fair share and expected instead to be given our living by others, America started on the road to becoming just another failed socialist state.
And so we elected Barack Obama to atone for the sins of our ancestors, to demonstrate enlightened, contemporary civic virtue. We elected a man who believes that America is exceptional just as the citizens of other nations believe themselves to be exceptional. As he once said, “words, just words,” for if everyone is exceptional, in truth, no one is exceptional. If everyone is above average, average has no meaning. If all are equally worthy, equality has no meaning. The Founders understood that to be equal meant to be created by God, equal in humanity, in intrinsic human worth and dignity, and deserving of equal, unbiased treatment under the law. Mr. Obama and his supporters would have us believe that equality has to do with taking from some and giving to favored others. They buy the juvenile notion that apparent equality of outcome is far more important than equality of opportunity. This is the basis of Marxism, socialism and its fellow travelers.
The causes of our downward spiral are familiar to anyone who has been paying attention. Too many of us have abandoned the principals that make us great, that make us Americans. An instructive example is home ownership.
I am tempted to say that when Democrats in the 1970s began to say that every American should have their own home, they did this with the best of intentions, but the results of this bit of rhetoric surely say otherwise. Every American should own their home. It’s a lovely--if simple-mindedly emotional--sentiment, and that’s where it should have stopped, but socialists see sentiments—emotions—as reality, and they tried to manifest an emotion.
The problem goes back to our founding, to self-sufficiency, to the notion that we must live within our means, individually and as a nation. To the simple principle that we would not only build, but would live in the house we could afford and that when we could afford bigger and better, only then would we attain that house and the house after it. Apartments are a manifestation of that simple virtue. They are recognition that not everyone can afford a house, and our system evolved in recognition of that reality. If one could not afford a house, no bank would loan money that could never be re-paid. Even if one foolish enough to try to buy what they could not afford applied for a home loan, banks would not willingly assist them in destroying themselves and their families.
Rational people know that a mortgage payment is only the beginning, basic cost of home ownership. Maintenance, tools such as lawn mowers, utility bills substantially greater than those of apartment dwellers, insurance, furnishings, and myriad other expenses greatly expand that low, convenient monthly mortgage payment. For this simple reason, generations of fiscally responsible Americans deferred home ownership until they were certain they could actually—what’s that archaic word?—oh yes, until they could actually “afford” it. Even if they could never afford it, most could live in apartments that are the envy of most of the population of the world.
But Democrats knew better. They felt that everyone should have a house. It goes without saying that such trivial factors as being able to afford the mortgage payment, to say nothing of all of the incidental but necessary expenses of home ownership, were of no concern, and lenders were pressured to loan to those they knew would default. This was seen as compassionate, as building a better, more diverse and tolerant America, for who should not own their own house? What kind of cruel Republican would stand in their way? Surely such people were discriminating! Surely they were racists! Compassionate, caring, progressive government knew best, the free market be damned! And the free market was damned; all of us were damned.
Loans were made by lenders who knew they would never be paid, but they were willing to make such loans because they were backed by Fannie Mae, backed on the assumption that the Federal Government would make good those bundled loans when they inevitably defaulted. Many of those banks are no longer in business and other teeter on the edge of insolvency. Some banks resisted the siren song of diversity and compassion and remain strong today, but enough went along, and finally, circa 2008, the bills became due. All of that debt was bundled and packaged, and deferred and rolled over until it became so large that it reached critical mass—as everyone knew it eventually must--and exploded. So many mortgages were in default, mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--and by implication, by the public—that the whole house of cards collapsed and the bailouts and stimulus and the “summer of recovery” (remember that one? Last summer?), where nothing was recovered, began.
The Revolutionary generation could have told us this would happen. In fact, they did. The founders knew that when people discovered that they could vote themselves other people’s money that would be the beginning of the end for America. Circa 2011, about half of Americans pay no income taxes, none at all and many are given tax “rebates” because they do not pay taxes. A tiny percentage of the evil, greedy rich evilly and greedily pay most income taxes, and the rest are paid by an increasingly small middle class of producers, people who still actually produce goods, services and wealth in a manner that our forefathers would recognize and of which they would approve.
We have created an enormous and growing class of consumers, of people who do not for a moment think that they must live within their means, of people who do not expect to work for what they receive, of people who expect government to provide for much—or all—of what they have. And we have elected a man who believes in all of this, and more. Our president wants everyone to attend college on the public dime. The public dime is our tax dollars and whatever money can be begged and borrowed from nations that hate us and would delight in our destruction. As this is being written, Mr. Obama and his advisors are apparently seriously considering merely ignoring the law, ignoring the debt ceiling and spending as much money—money we do not have—as he pleases. His pleasure is unlimited. The Democrats in Congress have broken the law by not producing a budget, and proudly announced their intention to continue breaking that particular law, for they know that any budget they produce would enrage even the enervated American public. Most Congressional Democrats are more than willing to spend us into oblivion. A surprising and disgusting number of Republicans have been, and are, willing to assist them, even now.
The wreckage has become so obvious that all of Mr. Obama’s primary financial advisors have, like rats, deserted the sinking ship of state. All, that is, with the exception of the tax-evading Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who has had to recently sort of deny pervasive rumors of his impending departure. Presumably, Mr. Obama will now bring in the second string team to finish an already losing game.
We know that Socialism doesn’t work. It is the opposite of what Americans once knew and believed. It is anti-democratic and anti-American. Its foundational principles depict men as vassals of the state, as simpletons and weaklings unable to understand their own needs and unable to provide for themselves and their families. This is the very opposite of America. Yet Mr. Obama and the self-appointed better classes embrace it even as it has ruined the rest of the world, even as those sad, failing and failed nations struggle to abandon it. Margaret Thatcher was right. The problem with Socialism is that you always run out of other people’s money. And so we have.
Forget that Obamacare is not yet fully implemented and that if and when it is, it will, by itself, absent any other looming financial debacle (our other bankrupt entitlements), bankrupt the nation. The idea that tens of millions of uninsured Americans could be fully insured and that our costs would be lower and our medical care improved was a blatant lie from the beginning, a lie the new Americans of 1776 would have immediately recognized and rejected, as the majority of contemporary Americans continue to reject it. Consider what revolutionary era Americans would have thought of a president who so casually lied on such a grand scale. That we find it not only unremarkable, that we have come to expect it, clearly illustrates our national dissolution and despair.
But on this 4th of July, as fireworks soar into the night sky, so too may our hopes. All is not lost, not yet anyway. Even if a surprising and disgusting portion of Americans no longer believe that America is the one exceptional and indispensable nation, billions around the world do and they would, if they could, vote in the most sincere manner possible: they would vote with their feet and move here to become what far too many of us, starting with our president, no longer appreciate. They know what it is to be an American. They have no doubt of its distinction and value.
We may yet stave off disaster and decline. Such things are a matter of choice. By embracing the simple truths by which the first Americans lived their lives, we too may restore America to what she should be, to what she must be if mankind is to have true hope rather than the ephemeral hope of teleprompter-driven political rhetoric. It will not be easy, and it will take generations, but once again, we must—as Americans and as America—learn to live within our means and to provide for ourselves. That process has, weakly, already begun. It will truly begin with the removal of Barack Obama from office in 2012. It will continue when Americans once again embrace freedom and remove from office those who would destroy it. It will continue when Americans no longer tolerate those who do not tolerate them, domestically and around the world.
So on this July 4th, celebrate, but never forget that we remain free because of the continuing sacrifice of better men and women than ourselves. If we fail to honor their sacrifice and embrace and live the values that made July 4 more than just another day on the calendar, America will soon dissipate, like a brilliantly exploding firework against the night sky, flaring briefly and brightly, but gone forever. We will end not with a bang, but a whimper. America deserves better. The world deserves better.
Only the recreation of the new American Man, not by the government, not by fiat and mandate, but by Americans themselves, can reverse our disastrous course.