Barack Obama Begins Campaigning For General Election

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.

Kevin Reagan :: George Washington University :: Washington, DC :: @O_JoseCanYouSee

This piece can also be seen in the GW Patriot.


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18 Responses

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  1. anonymous
    May 01, 2013 - 11:06 AM

    “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.”
    The land of opportunity?? The American Dream? Well, the American Dream is just that- a dream, and America certainly isn’t the land of opportunity. For one thing- not everyone can afford to go to college. Receiving grants and loans can help those who can’t afford college- and that creates a more educated society. Isn’t that what we should want? I used to be all for individualism- and in a certain context I still am- however, most people work for the capitalist class. You’re not autonomous if you work for the capitalist class. I certainly concur that there are many who abuse the system, but the welfare system should be in place so that people can use the system to escape the system and become self-reliant. I receive grants, scholarships, and government loans to go to college, and I am not lacking in personal responsibility. When I was in high school, I couldn’t push my self academically because my mom was mentally ill and my dad was an abusive drug addict and I had to raise my little brother. Many times I couldn’t even go to school because I had to stay home with my brother. I also couldn’t get a job because of this. Yet, I worked on educating myself and learning how to think for myself, to resist the ideologies of the bourgeoisie which are imposed upon every one in this country. I didn’t think I would be able to go to college because of my high school grades. I took my SAT’s and I got a pretty decent score but still couldn’t get into a university because of my high school GPA. Instead I had to go to community college where I easily maintained a 4.0 GPA, which allowed me to transfer to a university. I wouldn’t be here without government help for school. I’m teaching a GED class as volunteer work and I feel like I’m helping society much more than I would by working in a factory. Yet- nobody will hire me, I have 93 cents in my bank account, and I was cut off of my SNAP benefits because I’m a full time student. Apparently the government wants a poor, uneducated populace that is forced to be a slave to the capitalist class because they are too busy working their menial jobs to have time to escape the system that oppresses them. Where is the American Dream? Maybe it existed once, but it doesn’t anymore.

  2. Paige
    Mar 17, 2012 - 01:29 PM

    All entitlement programs have accomplished thus far is to make poverty (or rather, “poverty”) just comfortable enough that people are willing to stay in it to get their dole, but not so comfortable that they can’t be whipped up into an eat-the-middle-class frenzy when it suits the Democrats to do so. There’s little motivation to work or learn your way out of the mess you’re in; it’s just so much easier to blame anyone who’s got a dollar more than you do, for being “greedy”.

    • Michelle
      Mar 18, 2012 - 12:38 AM

      Most people get off welfare within two years. And I’m not sure where the Dems attack the middle class – if anything, that’s the Republicans who say the middle class should carry the burden. Dems usually go after the upper class aka 1% or coporate America.

      • clownlucky
        May 24, 2012 - 04:39 AM

        We’ll keep our freedoms and the Dems can keep their nanny states.

    • Amy
      Feb 01, 2013 - 05:40 PM

      Whoa, hold the phone. 1. “Welfare” isn’t actually as rampant as you seem to think it is. Most receiving govt assistant are on Medicare and Social Security – programs they paid into just like you do. 2. The US has the highest relative poverty rate of all other wealthy capitalist nations because everyone else has been able to admit to themselves that capitalism has been proven to perpetuate poverty. So perhaps it is WE, as Americans, who should be taking some semblance of responsibility for a situation our own greed has created instead of ignorantly insulting the character of the impoverished. And furthermore, we have absolutely no business calling ourselves the “greatest nation in the world” if we are content to place the value of a dollar over the value of our own citizens lives, leaving major chunks of society behind to get ahead. Shame on us. And shame on you.

  3. MikeO
    Mar 16, 2012 - 08:48 PM

    Michelle, the one thing you don’t understand (and few people doe): it is CONGRESS that REALLY controls budgeting and taxation and department creation. Anything any president (including this one) submits it quickly rendered unrecognizable by people padding their own stuff on it. The President is often left little choice but accept, or have basic services fail.

    Watch who controls CONGRESS to see where things are going (the GOP does NOT have a great record when in control; just Democrat Light.

    Your generation will be cursing mine for decades after you shovel dirt in our faces, if we don’t get things turned around NOW!

    • Michelle
      Mar 17, 2012 - 03:03 AM

      Mike, I’m not sure why you think you know which generation I belong to and that I don’t understand the basic checks and balances of our government but I digress.

      Kevin here was clearly attempting to use Reagan as an example of a President who had Americans take responsibility. I was pointing out that, no, this idea actually went against his/adminstration’s record. (Actually, he raised taxes while he was the Governor of CA as well.)

      If he wants to make his point, prehaps he should choose a President/adminstration that is not known for this.

  4. michelle
    Mar 16, 2012 - 04:29 PM

    But Ronald Reagan raised taxes 7 out of 8 years in his office and actually expanded the federal government. He added a whole department.

    And I believe something may have occured between 2008 and 2011 that would cause people to apply for food stamps. Just a thought.

    • Jethro
      Mar 16, 2012 - 11:16 PM

      Yes something did happen – three years under the most “big government” president and congress in history. His big government spending, just like FDR’s, is turning a severe recession into the second “great depression” – the double dip just hasn’t happened yet.

      • Michelle
        Mar 17, 2012 - 03:06 AM

        Believe it or not, Obama did not take office in 2008 and the recesion started the next day. He inherited it from a Republican President, who spent more than Obama has.

        I’m getting a little tired of this ingorance to be honest. Its like Republicans (not ness. the ones here or conservatives in general) want to pretend that they didn’t have a strong hand in destorying the economy and a Democratic President should just sit around waiting for it to right itself. Doesn’t work that way.

      • Jethro
        Mar 17, 2012 - 05:38 PM

        Hey dumbass – you’re the one who said BETWEEN 2008 and 2011.
        Did I defend the Rebublicans? NO!
        Oblubberer said himself – get in the back seat Republicans! He not only kept his foot on the deficit spending gas peddle – he floored it!
        BLAME BOOOOSH! That’s all I ever hear from you liberal koolaide drinkers.
        Useful Idiot……

      • Michelle
        Mar 18, 2012 - 12:36 AM

        Mmmm….personal attacks.

        My point is Obama inhertied a bad economy – he didn’t make it that way.

        And did you miss the part where I said not ness. the repbulicans and conservatives here feel that way?

        And no, Obama did not have a bigger impact on the defict that the president before him. So I don’t understand the flooring it.

      • Michelle
        Mar 18, 2012 - 04:53 AM

        Also, the author of the article stated the time period 2008 – 2011, which is why I mentioned it and no where in my response did I blame Bush or even the Republican’s completely.

        Prehaps you should read more throughly and be polite to be safe so you don’t embrass yourself.

  5. Tabitha
    Mar 16, 2012 - 02:05 PM

    Right on! I would love the government to tell me “you’re on your own.” Let me work and strive for what I want without government interference. That is the American Dream.

  6. The High Tide (@HighTideJournal)
    Nov 29, 2011 - 11:08 AM

    I really enjoyed this piece, Kevin. You touched on one of the fundamental principles that sets ideological conservatism apart from 21st century liberalism: it’s not the government’s job to take care of us.

    And thank goodness for that!



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