Vote for us – since you can’t take care of yourselves.

August 30, 2008

As I alluded to below, the theme of the Democratic convention was, the American Dream is dying and can be revived only by the grace of government.  

The Dems repeatedly invoked their own stories of achieving the American Dream – growing up without silver spoons in their mouths, of overcoming adversity through hard work and perseverance, and of resulting success. So far, so good.

But then the Dems explained that this success is not possible for the rest of us, who are too stupid, lazy, and helpless to achieve the American Dream on our own.

Joe Biden, for example, brags (correctly, I think) about the lessons his parents taught him about realizing success, and about the path Barack Obama took to get where he is:

Barack Obama and I took very different journeys to this destination, but we share a common story. Mine began in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and then Wilmington, Delaware. With a dad who fell on hard economic times, but who always told me: “Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get up.”

My mother’s creed is the American creed: No one is better than you. You are everyone’s equal, and everyone is equal to you.

My parents taught us to live our faith, and treasure our family. We learned the dignity of work, and we were told that anyone can make it if they try.

That was America’s promise. For those of us who grew up in middle-class neighborhoods like Scranton and Wilmington, that was the American dream and we knew it.

And he [Barack Obama] made their lives [South-Side Chicagoans] the work of his life. That’s what you do when you’ve been raised by a single mom, who worked, went to school and raised two kids on her own. That’s how you come to believe, to the very core of your being, that work is more than a paycheck. It’s dignity. It’s respect. It’s about whether you can look your children in the eye and say: we’re going to be ok.


Again, so far, so good. But then Biden says the American Dream is dead – not because people aren’t working – but because the government is not working for them:

But today that American dream feels as if it’s slowly slipping away. I don’t need to tell you that. You feel it every single day in your own lives.

I’ve never seen a time when Washington has watched so many people get knocked down without doing anything to help them get back up. Almost every night, I take the train home to Wilmington, sometimes very late. As I look out the window at the homes we pass, I can almost hear what they’re talking about at the kitchen table after they put the kids to bed.

Like millions of Americans, they’re asking questions as profound as they are ordinary. Questions they never thought they would have to ask:

    * Should mom move in with us now that dad is gone?
    * Fifty, sixty, seventy dollars to fill up the car?
    * Winter’s coming. How we gonna pay the heating bills?
    * Another year and no raise?
    * Did you hear the company may be cutting our health care?
    * Now, we owe more on the house than it’s worth. How are we going to send the kids to college?
    * How are we gonna be able to retire?


Why shouldn’t people have to ask whether mom will move in now that dad is gone? Since when were families not supposed to take care of each other? Why is it automatically someone else’s – specifically the government’s – problem?

Obviously, there are economic concerns, and people rightly worry about heating bills and stagnant wages. But instead of seeing this as an opportunity to demonstrate just how tough we Americans are, the Democrats whine – on our behalf – that the government is not taking care of everyone. Embarrassing.

Barack Obama was a little better, actually admitting that personal responsibility is something that government cannot replace. But it was about the only thing Obama thought the government couldn’t do.

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story – of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart – that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.


Again, though, the ultimate cause of just about every problem was the failure of government to do something. Obama listed problems Americans face: unemployment, foreclosures, “cars you can’t afford to drive, credit card bills you can’t afford to pay, and tuition that’s beyond your reach[]” and put most of the blame for these problems…on the government! (“These challenges are not all of government’s making.”) Really? The government made homebuyers to agree to mortgages they couldn’t afford and to put more and more charges onto their credit cards?

How should we proud, hard-working Americans respond?

Apparently, by waiting for a new administration so that government can take care of us: “the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.”

Obama did concede that “Ours is a promise that says that government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that is that which we cannot do for ourselves.” Who could disagree? The problem is that Obama then lists a number of things that he thinks we cannot do for ourselves and that are within the authority, and expertise, of the federal government: “provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.”

Thus, the ultimate problem with the liberal vision is that in entails the government’s being involved in every aspect of our lives – supposedly for our own good. Biden’s father’s advice to get up when you’re knocked down applies only to the great liberal leaders. It does not apply to the rest of us, on whose behalf Obama and Biden will work to ensure that we never, ever get knocked down.

This is a vision that runs counter to the long, proud history of can-do Americanism and is an insult to hard-working Americans, who should be largely left alone to succeed (or, sometimes, fail) on our own.


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