President Obama’s recent comments about business owners and entrepeneurs at a campaign rally, and the response of most Americans to them, have helped to further bring to the forefront what is really the central issue in this election. Make no mistake about it, the battle going on in politics right now is about the very soul of this country. Americans will go to the polls in November to declare for themselves, and the rest of the world, whether we will defend the Founders vision of this country or fundamentally change our direction.
The 2012 election is about how Americans view the origination of power. The endless debate over the Constitution and its meaning is simply a vehicle by which the debate is taking place. This is what makes President Obama’s recent remarks that business owners “didn’t do it on their own” so revealing.
The basis on which the Founders constructed our constitutional republic was natural law. At the risk of oversimplification, this means that the Founders believed that God created a natural law that gave man control of his own destiny. People were around before government; power, then, originates in the individual. As cultures and societies grew, certain needs better served by a collective effort arose. Accordingly, governments were formed by the consent of those in the society to achieve certain limited goals like providing an army to guard against foreign invasion. Critically, the people then ceded limited and explicitly stated power to the government to achieve certain agreed upon goals. If it was not delegated, the government did not have the power to do it.
This concept can be clearly seen in our founding documents. The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain “unalienable rights”. The Constitution sets up a brilliant system of checks and balances to restrict government and ensure it does not tread on these individual freedoms that the Founders cherished. While it was not necessary from their perspective to do so since the entire document was based on these concepts, they thought it so important to make sure this was understood that they passed the Bill of Rights that included a number of explicit things the federal government could not undertake. They even went so far as to explicitly state in the 10th Amendment that if the power was not given to the federal government explicitly, then the power was retained by the states or the people.
Those on the left, with President Obama as their leader, take a fundamentally different view. As illustrated by his recent comments, they view power as originating in the government. It is then shared with the people from time to time on certain issues. They view the Constitution as a limiting document that limits the otherwise endless power the government has to act. In simpler terms, the government can do whatever it wants so long as the Constitution does not prohibit it.
So what does this all mean in practical terms? It’s the difference between individual Americans making decisions for themselves or having others do it (or even worse, government dictating certain decisions) for them. Those on the left are agreeable to letting the government dictate what car they drive, what food they eat, and what products they can buy. With this comes a growing federal government that requires more revenue and power to operate. For those on the right, this is scary stuff. We understand that a growing government is a threat to individual liberty. We heed the famous words “a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take everything you have.”
Liberals don’t want to hear it, but this is a bellweather election. The choice is between President Obama’s vision of a growing federal bureaucracy that will further crush the very individual freedom on which this country was founded and a more tradition view that moves back towards our founding ideals. The contrast is a stark one; and if President Obama is elected again, an American president with no inhibitions for lack of a need to be re-elected will result in America never being the same again.
For my children’s sake, I hope this country is strong enough to come through like it has on so many previous occasions.