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SOLO-International Op-Ed: Take the Pledge!
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Thu, 2010-09-23 11:38
SOLO-International Op-Ed: Take the Pledge!
Nearly thirty years ago, as a budding Objectivist libertarian who had thrown off the shackles of both Marxism and the knee-jerk nihilism that set in after it, I thrilled to Ronald Reagan's bold inaugural proclamation that "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 problems; government is the problem. From time to time, we have 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?"
As he proceeded with a programme of tax cuts and deregulation, however imperfect and incomplete and however unmatched by spending cuts in the face of a hostile Congress, Reagan unleashed the most sustained period of economic growth in recent history. That, I fancifully supposed when his two terms came to an end, is surely that. Lesson learned. No more disastrous wage-price-freeze Nixons or legislate-for-every-contingency-including-the-White-House-tennis-roster Carters; Reagan had surely returned America to its roots once and for all.
Alas, I hadn't allowed for Ronnie's Biggest Mistake: George Herbert Walker Bush. This ghastly Establishment Republican just couldn't wait either to renege on his promise, "Read my lips - no new taxes," or to betray the entire Reagan Revolution. Voters gave this weasel the heave-ho at the earliest opportunity, 1992 - but they elected in his stead an even bigger sleazeball: Bill Clinton. This lecherous leftie set his odious Alinskyan wife the task of nationalizing medicine. The American electorate was still healthy enough to be repulsed, and embraced the Republicans' reborn Reaganite Contract with America in 1994. The wily Clinton declared the era of Big Government to be over, streamlined the welfare system and comfortably won over the Bush-like Bob Dole in 1996.
Then came Dubya. A professed Reaganite, claiming to admire Reagan more than his own father, but touting a "compassionate conservatism" that was entirely comfortable with unseemly increases in government expenditure and ultimately, the first big bailout.
By this time America had almost lost its identity to throngs of inexpressibly stupid youngsters as precisely dumb as the vicious Dewey/Gramsci/Alinskyan Progressive education system intended them to be - the creatures to whom I collectively refer as Airhead America, ready for any demagogue to have them, as Ayn Rand would have put it. Not just any demagogue did, but the most glib and arguably the most evil one on the planet: Barack Hussein Obama. This community organiser immediately set about nationalizing not just medicine but the auto and banking industries and running up a trillion dollar deficit in pursuit of his proposition that government is not the problem, but the solution.
Not Reagan or the Founding Fathers who inspired him, I was ready to conclude, but Airhead America had finally prevailed once and for all.
Remarkably, inexplicably and imperceptibly at first, it seems millions of Americans have retained or somehow acquired in the face of all odds an awareness of and commitment to the founding ideals of their nation. After years of weasel-worded me-tooing by their party, Republicans are just about to come out with this:
Now, it's discomfiting to be sure that this Pledge invokes the collectivist and indefinable concept of the "common good" that is nowhere mentioned in the original Declaration of Independence, and that the "general welfare" provision of the very Constitution with which Republicans seek to make all future legislation reconcilable might still accommodate within its rubric all manner of socialist foulness; I'll still settle for this Pledge and root for its advocates. They have eschewed Christian bigotry and confined themselves to economic and defense measures which, on preliminary perusal at least, are unexceptionable and eminently desirable from a freedom-lover's vantage point. Examples:
Yes, it's entirely possible they don't mean any of it and are saying it only because Americans have signified through their tea parties that they're mad as hell and are not going to take it any more. But this now-seasoned Objectivist is optimistic, even as official, authorized Objectivism militantly remains conscientiously dismissive and irrelevant. There is the fact of the tea parties themselves, an "irate and tireless minority" that has grown beyond all expectation since the first tentative sending of tea-bags to the White House. And there are the "young guns" whom one sees regularly on Fox News, like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan: articulate and attractive young men with fire in their bellies for the founding principles of their great nation, one of the likes of whom will undoubtedly be president as soon as the current Jimmy Carter clone is removed.
As a mainstream radio and TV anchorman and budding (non-mainstream) Objectivist libertarian back then, it was wonderful for me to find myself regularly uttering the words, "President Reagan" over the airwaves. I didn't imagine I would find the reasons for that joy being reversed so soon. But I am confident that the reversal is about to be reversed. Yes, much will remain for us Objectivists to do, and at a fundamental level, where we trump superstition with reason and sacrificialism with rational egoism. But in the interim the Pledge to America bespeaks more than a breathing space for liberty; it is veritable oxygen.
Lindsay Perigo: email@example.com
SOLO (Sense of Life Objectivists): SOLOPassion.com
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