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April 29, 2010

Plowing the Road Anew

Patricia A. Kelly

The Republicans turned out in force Monday night for the annual Lincoln/Reagan Day Dinner. More than 300 attended, with a large number turned away.


Republicans, to borrow a phrase you might remember, are “Fired up and ready to go!” In my view, that’s a good thing.


There are many GOP candidates out there this year, and more attended the dinner than I’ve ever seen before. Their themes ranged from changing Maryland into a business friendly state to returning to a more constitutional government. As gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy said, referring to present Maryland policy: “What do you do when you find yourself in a hole?” The answer, “Stop digging!”


That brings up another recent buzzword, “Change.” We’ve indeed heard it a lot, and what we got isn’t what I, or many of those in attendance, had in mind.


Republicans are planning for their own change during the mid-term elections, and the very engaging speaker, Michele Bachmann, Congresswoman of Minnesota, asserts that President Barack Obama will serve only one term.


Representative Bachmann had a lot to say, much of which is worth repeating.


According to her, our federal budget spending in one year under the present administration increased 20%. During the last 18 months, the debt incurred is greater than the sum of all prior debt. Started by President George W. Bush, and increased under President Obama, bailouts have led to government ownership of 51% of our private economy.


Our government holds more than half of the private mortgages, owns the largest U.S. banks, the largest U.S. insurance company, most major car companies and, now, the student loan industry. Our president is moving to own even more.


Wall Street campaign contributions to Democrats are seven times the amount given to Republicans. President Obama received nearly $1 million from Goldman Sachs.


Over 50% of our national debt is held by foreign nations, unlike during World War II when private U.S. lenders held our debt. The Chinese recently dumped $34 million of our debt. There is a move underway to replace the U.S. dollar with a new international currency. And no, this is not happening because the dollar is so strong.


Our government has been very slow to identify recent terrorist attacks in the U.S. The Detroit Christmas “Underwear Bomber” was read Miranda rights in spite of being a foreign national. No counter terrorist organizations, such as the FBI, CIA or Homeland Security were consulted. The decision was made – without consultation – by Attorney General Eric Holder. He still has his job, and Janet Napolitano said everything went perfectly.


There is a bill before Congress now to penalize American interrogators of terrorists with 15 years in prison – not only for torturing prisoners – but for demeaning them during questioning.


Representative Bachmann was a compelling speaker. She became quite emotional herself as she proclaimed the unique value of the United States to the world, not to mention to those of us lucky to be born and live in such unique freedom and prosperity.


Conservatives throughout history have some things to answer for, but limiting government to essential services, to oversight of such things as fraudulent business practices, consumer safety, and national security, does not have to mean reactionary thinking, as it sometimes has in the past.


We need fiscal conservatism and government conservatism. We need to protect our integrity as a country, while remaining open to entrepreneurship, to new ideas, to societal evolution and even to legal immigration. We need to protect the helpless without becoming a society of entitlement.


We, the people, need to assert our will, and we need to do it in a thoughtful way. What we don’t need is to trade what Representative Bachmann called this “cabal of radicals” for a bunch of fundamentalist, gun-toting reactionaries, or for a bunch of self-serving industry magnates.


We need honest, accomplished, principled leaders, people for whom politics is not their only life; maybe even people who do not want to “serve” for life; maybe even people who don’t think the perks of office should include free, fresh flowers for their offices on a regular basis.


The world has changed dramatically since our country was founded, and our government established. There is more information available now to the ordinary person than ever before. Our government has gone in so many wrong directions in recent years and misled us so many times that we are obligated to step up to the plate and figure out what’s really going on.


As voters and as beneficiaries of life in the most free and prosperous country in the world, we have both the opportunity and the obligation to create, or re-create something unique in the world, a free and principled United States of America. It’s going to take a lot of work.


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