President Lincoln once warned that our greatest danger, “if it ever reaches us, must spring up from among us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot,” Lincoln said, “we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we must live throughout all time, or die by suicide.”
Regrettably, that is what many of the Obama administration’s policies amount to: political and economic suicide.
Economically, the president and the Democrat-controlled Congress have pursued reckless deficit spending sprees that have left generations of Americans holding the bill for the deepest national debt in our history. If the president’s budget goes through this year, we will be locked in for huge tax increases, more borrowing from the Chinese, and a swollen centralized bureaucracy foreign to the American experience.
Last year, the administration pushed through a $787 billion stimulus that was supposed to keep unemployment below 8 percent. Yet today, more Americans are out of work than at any time in the last quarter century, and President Obama’s policies have even managed to eclipse the economic disaster of the Jimmy Carter years.
When it comes to our national security, this administration has squandered opportunities to keep Iran and North Korea in check, yet it has worked overtime to give foreign-born terrorists the constitutional rights of American citizens, complete with the right to remain silent and open access to our civilian courts. In fact, at every turn, this administration is hell-bent on stripping the freedoms of everyday Americans and giving those freedoms to those who want to kill us.
Whether we’re talking energy policy, foreign policy, fiscal policy, or environmental policy, Americans are now being subjected to the ideological novelties of an imperial president and an all-too-complicit Congress. These trends leave many Americans wondering what has happened. From Tea Parties to Town Halls, the people are demanding their country back.
Indeed, the nation looks very different from the experiment in liberty that men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton conceived 230 years ago. They believed that the only way to economic prosperity and national security was democracy, the consent of the governed, and the strong check on federal power that comes from protecting individual liberty. Today, too many politicians have forgotten those truths.
Today, there are two very different and competing visions for America, and two very different results.
One approach is to assume that the people — left to themselves — are incapable of making the right decisions about how to spend their money, or what kind of health insurance they need, or how to educate their children and provide for their families. The only solution, if you think like that, is bigger government, higher taxes, more regulations, greater federal control — and always, less transparency.
The other way — which is at the heart of our democratic experiment — is to let the people make their own choices about how they live their lives, spend their money, and provide for their families. And when the government must tax the people to pursue a limited constitutional responsibility, the people have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent.
In Federalist 51, James Madison recognized that “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
But today, the government is out of control. From health care to housing policy, from bailouts to budget gimmicks, Washington is overextending its authority and overspending our tax dollars.
In the past, the American people have mobilized to act in the face of threats to our future when those threats have come from distant shores. Whether it was European fascism, Soviet communism, or Islamic jihadism, the United States has summoned the resources and resolve to defend freedom.
Today, as never before, we are experiencing what President Lincoln foresaw — a suicide pact built on reckless congressional spending and President Obama’s imperious policies. The American people, however, still have it within their power to put a stop to it.
The only question remains: do we have the resolve?
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.