Personal Responsibility and Self Reliance
It went largely unnoticed, but five months ago President Obama unwittingly delivered a golden sound bite for conservatives. While speaking at a million-dollar fundraiser in the People’s Republic of San Francisco, the president told the crowd of donors that if he didn’t win re-election in 2012, “then we’re going to have a government that tells the American people ‘you are on your own.’” The president went on: “If you get sick, you’re on your own. If you can’t afford college, you’re on your own. If you don’t like that some corporation is polluting your air or the air that your child breathes, then you’re on your own. That’s not the America I believe in. It’s not the America you believe in.”
If it were not already obvious that the president is out of touch with the American spirit, this quote should eliminate any doubt. Clearly, the president is a true believer in the nanny state. He believes in an America where the government is there to care for every sick individual and pay for every student’s college tuition. In Barack Obama’s America, if the government isn’t either heavily regulating or actually providing a service, then there is something wrong. Look no further than healthcare or his record on welfare. The number of individuals receiving food stamps increased 33 percent between November 2008 and 2010 and his proposed budget for 2011 projected doubling the amount of money spent on food stamps. Of course, it is unsurprising that President Obama’s remarks were met with resounding applause in that setting. That speech was delivered in the most liberal area of a state in fiscal ruin because of a culture of fiscal and personal irresponsibility. Remember, this is the same state where the average citizen has debts of $78,000 against an income of $43,000.
Every American even remotely familiar with the principles of the Founding Fathers should have heard the president’s speech and thought, ‘Good. I don’t want the federal government intruding in my life anyway.’ Contrary to what the Left argues, the government is not the solution to every problem; the government is an encumbrance on individuals seeking upward mobility. The American people live in the Land of Opportunity where individuals can make their dream a reality with determination and by capitalizing on their natural abilities—the American Dream. Conservatives believe in the American Dream, but sadly, many Americans are quickly losing hope in it.
It is time to restore the virtues of personal responsibility and self-reliance in our society. The most direct way to do this will be to tackle two major sources of irresponsibility and dependence: entitlements and welfare. Due to the expansion and explosion of spending on welfare and entitlement programs over the years and complete unwillingness to change that trend, the federal government has nurtured a culture of dependency. Countless individuals are becoming more dependent on the federal government to take care of their basic needs. As Bill Wagner points out,
The drift of society [has been] away from personal responsibility toward letting “someone else” do it. That someone is the “government,” but what seems to fall through the cracks is the fact that the “government” is us. It’s just folks, and by ceding authority over key aspects of our lives like retirement security, health care coverage, and education to others, we lose freedom and control over our lives.
Government will never be the solution to our problems. To quote Dr. Terry Paulson, “As Ronald Reagan reminded us, the effectiveness of government should not measured by how many citizens government helps, but by how many citizens don’t need government help.” Paulson writes how Alexis de Tocqueville, in his famous book Democracy in America, attributed the entrepreneurial spirit that makes this nation great to the practice of limited government. America needs to return to the ideals of liberty and equality that Tocqueville praised 176 years ago. As Paulson writes, “A return to individual responsibility and caring communities would foster economic growth, create new jobs, increase personal charity, and revitalize community involvement.” The American Dream is by no means dead (80 percent of Americans worth $5 million or more grew up in middle-class or lesser households). Instead of more government, let’s remove the barriers to job creation and watch those who are personally responsible and self-reliant soar.
This piece can also be seen in the GW Patriot.