SOLO-International Op-Ed: Take the Pledge!

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Thu, 2010-09-23 11:38

SOLO-International Op-Ed: Take the Pledge!

Lindsay Perigo
September 23, 2010

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:

America is an idea – an idea that free people can govern themselves, that government’s powers are derived from the consent of the governed, that each of us is endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America is the belief that any man or woman can – given economic, political, and religious liberty – advance themselves, their families, and the common good.

America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny.

Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course.

These first principles were proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, enshrined in the Constitution, and have endured through hard sacrifice and commitment by generations of Americans.

In a self-governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent.

An unchecked executive, a compliant legislature, and an overreaching judiciary have combined to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values, striking down long-standing laws and institutions and scorning the deepest beliefs of the American people. An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates, and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many.

Rising joblessness, crushing debt, and a polarizing political environment are fraying the bonds among our people and blurring our sense of national purpose.

Like free peoples of the past, our citizens refuse to accommodate a government that believes it can replace the will of the people with its own. The American people are speaking out, demanding that we
realign our country’s compass with its founding principles and apply those principles to solve our common problems for the common good. The need for urgent action to repair our economy and reclaim our government for the people cannot be overstated.

With this document, we pledge to dedicate ourselves to the task of reconnecting our highest aspirations to the permanent truths of our founding by keeping faith with the values our nation was founded on, the principles we stand for, and the priorities of our people. This is our Pledge to America.

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:

- Permanently stop all job-killing tax hikes.

- Award small businesses a tax reduction of 20 percent of business income.

- Reining-in of government red tape.

- Repeal of "job-killing business mandates." This specifically refers to a provision in the health care law that requires businesses to report to the IRS any transaction over $600. Small businesses argue the requirement is cumbersome.

- An immediate reduction in all federal spending and a cancellation of all unspent stimulus money.

- A cut in government spending to pre-stimulus and bailout levels.

- The imposition of a "hard cap" on discretionary spending, meaning the government can't go above a certain level.

- Repeal and replace the health care reform law and instead approve medical liability reform legislation.

- A requirement that all bills lay over for 72 hours in the House before being voted on.

- The mandate that all lawmakers writing legislation must include a clause in the measure demonstrating that the bill would be "Constitutional" if enacted.

- The demand that terrorism suspects be kept off U.S. soil.


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:

SOLO (Sense of Life Objectivists):

Great read

Sam Pierson's picture

This is a great read. Yup, this is a *good* development, and cause for optimism.

I repeat myself but it is the GOP that is really between the cross-hairs in all this, the Dems an irrelevant sideline. There is 35-40% support among voters for the aims of the Tea Party, but the Tea Party don't care about the GOP. It just wants the GOP to do its supposed job, or it will replace it with something else. So, mean it or not, the GOP is now accountable and has to deliver, or it will be toast. And I think the establishment GOP knows this.

Republican Kitsch nothing more

Doug Bandler's picture

The Republicans had eight years in the White House without shrinking government one iota; to the contrary, they expanded it greatly with Bush’s radically unconservative Freedom Agenda wars, prescription drug entitlement, ongoing farm subsidies, Pentagon bloat, etc. Why should anyone believe them now? The Republican call for change is exactly as meaningless as the Obama call for change.

It is encouraging to see this reversal

HWH's picture

and one has to conclude that it's the Tea Party dragging the conservatives back from the trough to the pragmatism
of their vacuous idealogical roots.

Perhaps the real seed of hope lies in the widespread acceptance of Rands ideas among the Tea Partyers.

I, like you feel that the time is now more than ever for KASS O'ists to inject Rands ideas into the mainstream.

If it manages to inflate the current intellectual vacuum and attain critical mass now nothing will stop it,
and the kind of world we hope to see may be on the cards some sunny day.

Of course it would be running headlong into the airie-fairie green and red crap that airheadia have been brainwashed with,
not to mention the age old turds of Altruism, Intrincisism, Envy and Mysticism still jauntily floating in the drinking water.

It certainly is a nuclear war rather than a battle we are facing, and with the odds so much more crucial than ever before I feel.
It seems that if this war is lost, all resistance to Mallory's beast will be futile and the world will finally rush headlong over the
cliff and back into the dark ages.

Could we be caustiously optimistic that the Tea Party wil upend the progressive establishment and their conniving scumbag of a mascot?

Only if backed by O'ism as LP mentions in OPAR.

There is nothing more to be said here about the liberals; no one can confuse Franklin D. Roosevelt or Edward M. Kennedy with Objectivism. About the conservatives, however, who pretend to be defenders of "free enterprise" or "the American way of life" while spreading all the opposite ideas and laws, something remains to be said.
Precisely because of their pretense, the conservatives are morally lower than the liberals; they are farther removed from reality—and, therefore, they are more harmful in practice. Since they purport to be fighting "big government," they are the main source of political confusion in the public mind; they give people the illusion of an electoral alternative without the fact. Thus the statist drift proceeds unchecked and unchallenged.
Historically, from the Sherman Act to Herbert Hoover to the Bush Administration, it is the conservatives, not the leftists, who have always been the major destroyers of the United States.
"Conservative" here must be construed in philosophic terms. It subsumes any "rightist" who attempts to tie the politics of the Founding Fathers to unreason in any form—whether he is a Protestant fundamentalist, a Catholic invoking Papal dogma, a neoconservative invoking Judaic dogma, a Republican invoking "states rights" (i.e., a man seeking fifty tyrannies instead of one), a libertarian invoking anarchism, or a Southerner invoking racism.
Freedom is the opposite of every one of these creeds—and so is Objectivism their opposite. Objectivists are not "conservatives." We do not seek to preserve the present system, but to change it at the root. In the literal sense of the word, we are radicals—radicals for freedom, radicals for man's rights, radicals for capitalism. We have no choice in the matter.
We have no choice because, in philosophy, we are radicals for reason.

roll film scanning

In a way...

Marcus's picture

...there are positives to the whole Obama and air-head America love affair.

It has served to polarise the debate and make proponents of old-fashioned Reaganism actually define what it is that they are against and what it is they do actually believe in.

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