By: R.J. Moeller
I made a conscious decision this year to avoid watching the State of the Union Address live and opted instead to read the full transcript of it and use the actual words spoken by our president to analyze his speech. I develop a nervous tick when I hear more than three outbursts of forced, obligatory clapping in one hour or less and so after consulting with my doctor, reading (instead of watching) seemed the best route for old R.J.
So let’s get down to brass tacks.
Early in the speech, President Obama said:
We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.
That, too, is what sets us apart as a nation.
Couldn’t agree more, Mr. President. We are set apart as a nation. We are unique. Our system of government and free-market economy are exceptional things. And not simply in the same way other countries believe that their way of doing things is exceptional.
What sets us apart has been aptly explained by Dennis Prager in the video below titled “The American Trinity.”
Unfortunately, and despite President Obama's calculated sentiments last night, it is the very liberal-progressive element in our country that he represents that thinks the things which set us apart are not points of pride, but scarlet letters of shame. Now, I’m not accusing President Obama or all who voted for him of being on-board with all of the political correctness, moral relativism, and pro-secularization that typifies our media, entertainment industry, and institutions of higher learning. But this is what the contemporary Left stands for and seeks to usher in. The Right and Left in this country do not simply have different means, we have different ends. I believe that Barack Obama and myself both want things to "get better" in the United States, but what "better" means to each of us, and how we would plan to achieve "better", are not the same things simply because we both use the adjective.
I suppose here in the speech, right off the bat, I would have loved for President Obama to more clearly state what he thinks the core American values and ideals are.
Moving right along...
What comes of this moment is up to us. What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow. I believe we can. I believe we must. That's what the people who sent us here expect of us. With their votes, they've determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.
The people of America have been sending loud and clear messages to the president about his policies since the summer of 2009. None of those messages have been supportive of his policies. Much like President Bush took it on the chin in the 2006 (and by proxy, the 2008) election, President Obama has already taken it on the chin two years into what was supposed to be a transcendent presidency. Only because they had overwhelming majorities in both houses of congress were Democrats able to ram through things like Obamacare. Americans like President Obama as a person. They find him repugnant as a politician. He they like; his ideas they hate.
I don’t want Center-Right congressmen and senators to “get along” if it means passing bad legislation. I don’t imagine that a liberal Democrat voter wants his representatives caving to my side’s demands either. Yes, work together and earn your keep; but enough with the “It’s up to the other side to reach across the aisle” trite. No one buys it. Even fewer practice it. We’re big boys and girls here: have the debates, keep it civil, and pass laws. Quit telling us how much important it is to come together and do something. Nothing is better than something if the something is bad for the country.
At stake right now is not who wins the next election – after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It's whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It's whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world.
I realize that the president has to talk like a conservative to stop from dropping in the polls any more than he already has since taking office (because liberalism scares the average American when it’s actually articulated on national television), but it doesn’t become him. Every time he says anything even remotely associated with economics he sounds like a junior-year Sociology major at (insert name of any public university around the nation here). You're out of your element, Mr. President.
Jobs and industries leave this country because liberal Democrats and their anti-capitalistic supporters over-tax, over-regulate and generally discourage “big business” in this country with the same fervor conservatives opposed and attempted to undermine communism during the Cold War and now radical Islam in the current War on Terror. Liberals like the president have taken it upon themselves to be the grand arbiters of what “fair” wages are, what “sound” environmental policies look like, and who gets to keep what part of their paycheck. The trade-off for such self-congratulatory policy-making is those who want to produce something (and turn a profit) build their products elsewhere.
If the president wants to put aside partisan rancor for the sake of the economy, and for “the hard work and industry of our people” to be “rewarded,” then I would suggest that he write down a list of whatever random convictions he might have regarding economics, then take that list and do the opposite of everything on that list, before promptly burning that list after he’s course-corrected everything on that list.
Or go buy Basic Economics, by Dr. Thomas Sowell, and we’ll call it even, Mr. President.
We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.
Wanna know some sure-fire ways to put us on the track to achieve all this and more? Cut taxes across the board. Slash spending on an unprecedented level. Root-out as much corruption throughout all levels of government as is possible. Encourage unions in states like Illinois and California to re-negotiate their unsustainable pensions.
But again, all of these ideas are things the president himself opposes. We’re not talking here about side, peripheral issues. The heart of modern liberalism is the re-distribution of income, the increasing size and scope of the federal government, and the unionization of as much of the economy as is possible. Too many Americans fail to grasp this critically important point: the right economic policies can still stumble and fall from time to time, but the wrong economic policies will always fall (and ultimately fail). Freer economic markets, lower taxes, and reined-in spending are sure-fire ways to improve the economy. People can still make mistakes within the framework of a system that employs those three things, but the economic system liberal Democrats try desperately to employ at any chance they get is itself a mistake.
I don't just want Republicans elected to office. That's not my goal. What I desperately want is for the Left in this country to become more fiscally conservative and market-friendly. I’m not in favor of free market economics and limited government because Milton Friedman was. He and I both are in favor of it because it is what works.
We are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea – the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That is why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here. It's why our students don't just memorize equations, but answer questions like "What do you think of that idea? What would you change about the world? What do you want to be when you grow up?"
I’ll leave the fact that the president’s own party overwhelmingly supports a practice (abortion) that has disallowed some 50 million almost-Americans the chance to shape their own destiny alone for now, and focus instead on this necessary point: immigrants came here because of the promise of opportunity, not the guarantee of outcome. They came here because it is unlike the place they came from. Part of shaping your own destiny includes the reality that you might fail. Also, for the whole “shaping your own destiny” thing to work as it is supposed to, you need to refrain from bailing people out every time they crash and burn. Habitual compassion is for churches and individuals, not politicians and governments. It is not Barney Frank or Harry Reid’s job to make sure everyone gets everything they want.
And as to the education topic broached here, don’t even get me started. Essentially the president is saying, “We shouldn’t feel too bad about being behind these other, growing nations in math and science – I mean, look, we’re about going deeper with students and educating their souls.” Not only are American students technically dumber, they are morally and spiritually retarded as well. Teachers can’t push their students academically because many of the students can’t cut it intellectually and most of them will be crushed emotionally from receiving a bad grade. Morality can’t be brought up in public school because then terms like “God” and “Jesus” and “the Bible” might be used.
So if we can’t talk about our faith and the deeper, moral questions of life in school, why not just stick to Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmetic? I’d rather have taxpayer-funded schools stick to the basics of academics like schools in India and China and South Korea do and leave the contemplative, morally instructive stuff to parents and clergymen.
One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation.
So we should give kids a break for mistakes their parents made? I agree. End abortion.
I’m not going to get into the immigration topic in this column. I will be writing about it soon here at A Voice in the Wilderness.
Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change.
So tonight, I'm asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years – without adding to our deficit.
I like what the president said here. No joke. Let’s really have everyone pay their fair share and implement a “flat tax.” Everyone pays the exact same percentage of their income. That is literally the definition of “fair.” We waste billions of dollars and millions of hours on the tax system as it is. Do away with it. Make everyone fill out a postcard with the most basic, pertinent information. You will see prolific growth in our economy (and in the government’s tax revenue).
We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything's possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from.
That dream is why I can stand here before you tonight. That dream is why a working class kid from Scranton can stand behind me. That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father's Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth.
It was very honorable and kind of the president to give Speaker of the House John Boehner a “shout out.” I have no snide or cutting remark here. Just thought it was a nice thing of President Obama to say.
The speech was what we thought it would be: long, clap-happy, and full of platitudes. Most State of the Unions are. I am an American who is of the opinion that the country will be better off if ideas from the likes of Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan are pursued more than the ideas emanating from the White House.
Speaking of Paul Ryan, check out his own response to the president’s speech right here:
The year of 2011 will be a memorable one, with plenty of political jostling and ideological showdowns. We want our government working together, yes, but we also want the representatives that we personally elect to, well, represent us.
Have at it, boys (and girls).