All public policy is founded on an underlying philosophy about humanity and the world. Some call it a "worldview," but whatever it is called, everything government does (or does not do) derives from a philosophical foundation on which it is constructed.
While the usual suspects have criticized the Republican's "A Pledge to America" document, I find it a refreshing reminder of the founding philosophy that "brought forth on this continent a new nation," in Lincoln's words, 234 years ago.
The Republicans might have chosen a word other than "pledge." They could have selected "promise" (a declaration that something will or will not be done), or "covenant" (an agreement, usually formal, between two or more persons to do or not do something specified), or even "assurance" (a positive declaration intended to give confidence), but they chose "pledge" (a solemn promise or agreement to do or refrain from doing something). Pledge is best, because "solemn" is the most serious of words.
Not to nitpick, but something is missing from the document. The pledge speaks of what Republicans will and won't do should they regain power and how they will cut this and repeal that, but what about us: the unelected who voted them into office? What's our role?
The pledge speaks of having a "responsible, fact-based conversation with the American people about the scale of the fiscal challenges we face, and the urgent action that is required to deal with them." OK, but will this be a one-way conversation, or will we be told what is expected of us? If the people are to have a minimal role in the restructuring of government, if this is just an anti-government agenda, the pledge will not work.
The first sentence of that conversation should be "we can't go on like this." Too many Americans have been riding the gravy train called "entitlement" for too long and it is about to derail. Republicans should make weaning them from dependence on government a patriotic duty and the essence of liberty. Focus on those who have overcome poverty and let them serve as examples of what others can do.
Let's talk about individuals demonstrating more responsibility for their lives and ensuring their own retirement, with Social Security returning to the insurance program it was originally designed to be: a safety net, not a hammock. Get serious about reforming Social Security and Medicare so that younger workers can save and invest their own money and have it with interest and dividends when they need it. Older workers and retirees would continue on the current system.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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