I’ve been thinking of a title for my personal political party. I started with Republocrat – the name captured the fact that both parties have some things right. Now I’m thinking the “Equally Free to Choose” party. For it is here, under the platform of “Equally Free to Choose” that Americans, regardless of political party affiliation, tend to agree… and it is under this platform that our reform efforts must be focused today. It is an idea that inspired the Democratic-Republic party of our very beginning. “Equally Free” describes the mantra of our Democratic party, and an idea out of which many great leaders emerged – people like Grover Cleveland, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. And Freedom to Choose – it continues to inspire our Democratic party today. It is this exact idea, “Equally Free to Choose,” that founded the Republican party, as we fought and bled to ensure that all men are free to choose their future – and that slavery is abolished from our land. “Free labor, free land, free men.” – 1856 Republican Slogan. “Equally Free to Choose” – it is the principle that inspired such greats as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. This notion that we are all free to choose – this is what I view as American, what makes us who We are. Our great leaders of the past all knew that for us to become the best US, for us to form a more perfect union, we must all, every one of us, be free to choose in life. This idea could unite us again in our day if we could but rediscover ourselves.
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” – Abraham Lincoln
If our nation could but pause for a moment in time… if we could then look at both our past and our hopeful future, we might once again recognize who we are, see where we are, and remember what we are doing. We all have to do this sometimes – stop and remember what we are doing. It’s why we have checklists in my line of work – people are forgetful. In my home life, I set out downstairs in an effort to grab a flashlight from the junk drawer, warm up a bottle of milk, go to the garage for 2 more electrical caps, grab my phone off the counter, call and check in for work tomorrow, go back upstairs, give the bottle to Colton, and then over to the ceiling fan with the flashlight and electrical caps. But somewhere in the garage after I wiped up the spilled juice and fed the dogs, as the bottle is heating up and as I’m walking over bike helmets, skateboards, and re-stacking the goodwill pile, I stop and I say “Ok, now what am I doing again?” This is what America must do today, so as to remember our purpose and our mission.
Freedom to Choose America, that’s what we are doing. We must take a pause in life and remember this Truth if we are to unite again as one People. Our mission, what we are in the process of doing right now, is ensuring that we are a nation and a people in which we are all equally free to choose. It is the why, how, who, and what we are. It is everything that Thomas Jefferson and our founders envisioned when they wrote our Constitution. It is the reason we exist and what our first president, George Washington, and his fellow patriots bled to ensure.
“To say that any people are not fit for freedom, is to make poverty their choice, and to say they had rather be loaded with taxes than not.” – Thomas Paine
All of mankind is equally Free – that is the reason for our birth, the endgame that unites us, and the cornerstone of American society. And here is a corresponding truth: Freedom equals Inequality. For if you are free to choose, than you are free to choose wisely and poorly. You are both free to excel and by extension free to fail, for one cannot exist without the other. In America, we help those around us who are struggling because we are free to do so and because we are good people who choose to do so… not because we have a federal government program that taxes our successful and redistributes their wealth to those who are failing. This is why federal entitlement programs divide and destroy us, they attempt to remove both the personal freedom to “choose to fail” and the freedom to “choose to give” from our lexicon. And we need those freedoms in America — because we need those in life, that’s how a man or woman grows, that’s how we are meant to live.
This is what We realized nearly 12 score ago when we created this great land, and this is what we need to realize again in our day. The environment in which mankind functions best as a species, the one where We reach the absolute potential of our existence — it is in a limited-government environment, where one is both prepared and challenged to succeed. An environment in which, if ever you choose to respond with good character, honest work, and strong determination, you will excel. For no other environment is better for Us. That’s why our country was founded – our forefathers had seen the great light, and that’s what our country needs to return to today. This is the grand bargain, the answer, the solution:
Our government provides an equal environment in which we plot our course… Our drive, courage, and good fortune determines our heading… and Our God-given soul provides the necessary means, mentorship, and assistance to others like us on the journey. That is how we are meant to work, how we were created to live.
“The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.” – Thomas Paine
That’s how we survive, thrive, and excel. We embrace a government that ensures our freedom to choose, and we try to be the best person we can in our community. We are a society in which the government ensures freedom, the community promotes charity, and we freely let everyone peacefully pursue their vision in life – that’s who we are.
Freedom to Choose, that’s my political platform. “All of mankind is equally Free,” let’s never forget that. Its why, even in the face of abortion of the innocent, we preserve the legality of a woman to choose not to have her baby. We know that in order to embrace a society in which people are free to choose, they must be free to do something that we would never do. Instead of trying to legislate what we deem as good choices, we attempt to promote what we believe is the right choice through mentoring, education, and love – that’s who we are. For Life and Liberty go hand in hand.
“The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” – Thomas Jefferson
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Uh-oh, he just said ‘abortion.’” More than any other issue, abortion pits Liberty and Life in a justifiably highly charged environment. Whatever your views, I support your freedom to have them. But as this is not meant to be a paper on the topic of abortion, as I understand we all have strong opinions on this fundamentally important issue, and as I am not trying to dissuade you from any of your beliefs, let me just offer a quick story and then press on. Because as important as the abortion issue may be, it is by no means our only defining issue – for America has plenty of issues for government this day. Quick aside on Life and Liberty:
I have a best friend, I lived directly across the street from him for over 5 years, who I hang out with regularly, and who is a staunch Republican. His daughter babysits my kids, has two kids of her own, and she is getting married to their father this summer. Yes, they’ve been living out of wedlock since high school, they have two children, and they will marry for the first time in a few months – I am excited for them. And I remember, some years ago now, when my friend told me that his daughter, just out of high school and on her way to college, was pregnant. I remember talking to him about his daughter’s life situation and choices – it was wearing on his soul and I wanted him to be able to voice his feelings. Now I have my ideas on abortion – I think anybody who sees a sonogram of their unborn child knows that something in there is alive and beautiful – they can see that a precious life is forming. But I kept my thoughts to myself, and I asked him what his were. He had similar views on abortion and said that, although his plan was for his daughter to go to college, marry, and then have kids, he believed that was no longer an option. He couldn’t imagine terminating a pregnancy, he hoped that she would not abort the pregnancy, and he was determined to be the best Grandpa he could be… but the choice was hers. You know the end of the story, she chose to keep her child, her son now plays with mine, and she gets married this summer. But this isn’t a story about abortion, government aid, or taxes. I brought up this story because I was at my friend’s house the other day, we were talking politics, and this difficult issue of abortion surfaced in the conversation. My friend said something that I felt was as “American” a statement as one can make, and it made me ponder for some time afterward. He said, “I personally believe that Life begins at conception. And I am pro-Choice.” Life and Liberty, we must treasure them both.
For other issues affect America and our politicians in Washington DC should be focusing on them… and choosing the right answer. They should be running a responsible government and balancing our budget. That’s what we need to talk about America – how do we provide a secure working environment through government regulation that promotes equality in opportunity and ensures freedom of choice? We need to rediscover ourselves, answer this question, and promote the right political answer for our great nation.
“History, in general, only informs us of what bad government is.” – Thomas Jefferson
I personally voted for Ross Perot back in 1992 because I knew, even at 22 years old, that we needed a balanced budget for long term health. I voted for the Republicans under George W. Bush in hopes they would usher in responsible but limited government to balance the budget and minimize government intervention in our daily lives. I felt we needed to bring a hatchet to our government welfare programs. But instead, Republicans focused on a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage. The Republican party, borne out of a “free men” slogan and the notion that all who were created equal must be treated free and equal by government, now sought to divide the community through federal legislation. “Freedom to Choose” means just that – a freedom to choose yourself and how you are going to live, and a realization that others must be free to do something that we would never do. I don’t know why our Creator made us left and right-handed, black and white, homosexual and heterosexual, and I won’t know in this lifetime. But in the desired endgame of “All of mankind is equally Free,” I know that I embrace our differences. The churches can handle who can and cannot marry – this is not an issue for our Federal government. After the constitutional amendment push faltered, then came the Iraq war… and more “Reaganomics” even as our debt continued to balloon. Instead of a Limited Government whose costs were supported by our successful, I was given a Value-imposing Government whose size was expanded, whose tax base was shifted more to the lower and middle class, and whose wars went unfunded and unsupported in the international community. And to make matters worse, a Government which completely failed to respond in the one place that it was supposed to, an obvious mortgage bubble causing an impending financial collapse of our banking system. Even history’s biggest proponents of limited government recognize the need for government to interject in the banking arena and to impose taxes to balance the budget.
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” – Thomas Jefferson
“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.” – Thomas Jefferson
So I abandoned the Republican party… or more appropriately, I discovered that they had abandoned me.
I voted for the Democrats under Barack Obama in hopes they could end the wars, perform the necessary cuts to our Government Welfare programs, and modify our tax code so as to return to a time of balanced budgets and responsible, limited government. President Obama’s foreign policy has been in line with our all of mankind is equally free principle, but domestically our debt and government programs have only expanded. America will no longer have foreign policy decisions to make if we bankrupt ourselves from within – and I assure you, we are doing just that. Instead of a Limited Government whose costs were supported by our successful, I was given a Tax and Redistribute Government whose reach was expanded, whose welfare programs were extended, and whose debt was made monstrous. We must remember that Freedom to Choose means that there will be inequality. In the endgame of “All of mankind is equally Free” we will have hungry, we will have drug abusers, and we will have unemployed – for people will choose differently and experience different results. Personal welfare resulting from your personal choices is a place where our limited government should not get involved. Rather, this is where our soul, our goodness, our character interjects. For those of us who succeed in this life, those of us who through hard work, luck, and the Grace of God are able to excel in the American experiment, we owe it to ourselves, our Creator, and our fellow man to help in our communities as well as to fund the American experiment for our next generation. Even history’s biggest proponents of government intervention recognized the need for government to stay out of the charity business and not impose taxes to redistribute wealth.
“It isn’t sufficient just to want – you’ve got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy
So I abandoned the Democratic party… or more appropriately, I discovered that they had abandoned me.
We can unite again America. If our nation pauses for a moment, takes some time to reflect… and then asks our self, “Ok, now what are we doing again?” Maybe then We-the-People can rediscover who and what we were created and meant to be… we can remember the answer to the question – “Freedom to Choose” America, that’s what we are doing. This principle is why we embrace the United Nations in foreign policy even when it disagrees with us – because we embrace the notion that all of mankind is equally free to choose. Although our heart aches when people suffer and our nation trembles when neighboring countries act in defiance of America’s core values, we respect the Freedom of Choice whenever possible and refrain from trying to impose our will. So long as a country is not attacked, we peacefully do our utmost to guide the world, through example and good will, to what we believe is the right choice. That same principle is why our federal government stays out of personal affairs, defers business to the private sector, and does only that which is required to set a level playing field – because all of mankind is equally free to choose. Although our heart aches when citizens suffer and our body trembles when neighbors act in defiance of our core values, we respect the Freedom of Choice whenever possible and refrain from trying to impose our will. So long as our family is not attacked, we peacefully do our personal utmost to guide the community, through example and good will, to what we believe is the right choice. A limited Government, a small standing army to defend ourselves, and an unwavering platform of free speech, free religion, and equal opportunity – that is who We are. We must collectively embrace the Freedom to Choose in government policy and individually embrace the Need to Give in personal life decisions. That is who we, as a nation and as an individual, were created to be.
“A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Yours in Faith for a better America and a better World