Specifics on reforming Social Security and Medicare were left out of the pledge because Republicans know Democrats aren't serious about taming these twin monsters. Democrats would rather use these issues to demonize the GOP than offer practical solutions to amend them.
Since the New Deal, there has been an unhealthy relationship between government and the people that has harmed both. But like illegal drugs, there would be little supply if the demand were not high. The idea that people are incapable of taking care of themselves and their immediate families would have been foreign to our Founding Fathers. What too many lack is not resources, but motivation. Remind politicians of the stories from our past and present about people who overcame obstacles, start teaching these stories to the kids in our schools.
Perhaps no one in modern times articulated the conservative philosophy about government and its rightful place better than Ronald Reagan, who said in a 1964 speech endorsing GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater: "This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves."
Philosophy is easier to express than to apply. Republicans, should they win back Congress this year and the White House in 2012, will face enormous opposition from entrenched interests that will test more than the strength of their philosophy. It will test the strength of their character.
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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