By Rick Manning — In the last State of the Union address in 1988, President Ronald Reagan used the opportunity to remind Americans and Congress of the greatness that America aspires to, not through increased government, but through increased liberty.
In 1988, he said, “I don’t buy the idea that this is the last year of anything, because we’re not talking here tonight about registering temporary gains but ways of making permanent our successes. And that’s why our focus is the values, the principles, and ideas that made America great. Let’s be clear on this point. We’re for limited government, because we understand, as the Founding Fathers did, that it is the best way of ensuring personal liberty and empowering the individual so that every American of every race and region shares fully in the flowering of American prosperity and freedom.
“One other thing we Americans like — the future — like the sound of it, the idea of it, the hope of it. Where others fear trade and economic growth, we see opportunities for creating new wealth and undreamed-of opportunities for millions in our own land and beyond. Where others seek to throw up barriers, we seek to bring them down. Where others take counsel of their fears, we follow our hopes. Yes, we Americans like the future and like making the most of it.”
Just 24 years later, we will have another of the annual State of the Union addresses, this time by a President desperate for re-election trying to justify policies that have shredded liberty and economic freedom.
A President who has made class warfare the hallmark of his presidency and through his philosophical intransigence has created a debt burden on our nation unparalleled in history.
A President who has also declared war on the very U.S. Constitution that he swore to upheld by appointing officials outside of the advice and consent process that our founding fathers put into place to ensure that the executive branch did not become imperial.
A President who will tout an 8.5 percent unemployment rate, and will ignore the millions of Americans who have given up hope of finding a job and are uncounted by government bureaucrats. Nowhere will we hear about the real unemployment rate of around 11 percent when those dropped out Americans are counted.
A President who will chide Congress for inaction on the debt, while it is his political party that has steadfastly refused all efforts to make even modest cutbacks in the size and scope of government.
A President who will claim the creation of millions of “green” jobs due to billions of taxpayer dollars going to support the efforts of his contributors. He will make this claim even as television news reports show workers at Solyndra, one of many failed “green” taxpayer funded boondoggles, throwing out valuable glass worth millions rather than put it on the market for bid.
A President who will tout energy independence, even as he has cut off access to the largest source of oil in the North American continent by denying the building of the Keystone XL pipeline. Ironically, the same President hailed the offshore drilling efforts of Brazilian owned Petrobras as he gave $2 billion U.S. taxpayer dollars to the effort to develop the same resource that his Administration won’t allowed to be developed in the U.S. and hopes to block in Canada.
A President who presides over the greatest expansion in welfare in the history of the nation making government dependents of tens of millions of Americans, while blaming those who don’t take government largesse for being too stingy to share any more of their hard earned wealth.
A President, who railed against water boarding of our nation’s enemies, yet presides over a dramatically expanded predator drone program that turns assassination of those we suspect of being our enemies into a video game, even if they’re U.S. citizens.
A President who will blame capitalism for the European debt crisis, when the crisis is really one of the failure of European socialist governments and the banks which lent them the money to enable socialists to keep spending and making promises that they had no hope to ever keep.
A President who promises the enslavement of debt to Americans in order to keep small comforts today, rather than recognizing that his dramatic expansion of government spending cannot be sustained lest we become like those countries that are failing in Europe.
Compare the soaring words of President Reagan and his defense of individual liberty as the driver of our nation’s wealth to the promised chains offered by the current occupant of the office.
The State of the Union has always been a political message. The question for America is whether we want the state described by Reagan or Obama?
A state where each individual has the freedom to succeed or fail?
Or a state where the government punishes success and dictates who can succeed not based upon the quality of ideas, but instead on the depth of their White House contacts.
We, the people, still have the right to embrace the hope that President Reagan offered in 1988, or the controlling bonds that our current president is trying to convince us to slip on willfully.
Ultimately, the question is do we still agree with Reagan that, “limited government… is the best way of ensuring personal liberty and empowering the individual so that every American of every race and region shares fully in the flowering of American prosperity and freedom”.
For the future state of the Union, I pray that we do.
Rick Manning is the Communications Director of Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Rick on Twitter at @RManning957.