What started as a murmur has become a media refrain: “America is in decline.” Stated euphemistically the twenty-first century will not be an American century. Based on a dispassionate analysis of conditions at the moment, this sentiment seems accurate. Debt is crushing the American economy. Unemployment is steady at near double digits. And a mood of despair has captured the national capital.
But the Cassandras in our midst invariably overlook national resilience, the ability of Americans to rise to the occasion especially when conditions are most bleak. One such American is U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, a man who looks squarely at our problems and sees solutions.
In his new book, The Great American Awakening: Two Years That Changed My America, Washington and Me, DeMint points to the grass roots movement across the nation to reclaim our principles. Tea Partiers are on the march. Despite various media efforts to besmirch this homegrown movement, these average men and women are eager to restore fiscal sanity to the nation and in the process restore hope for our children and grandchildren.
Senator DeMint explains how this movement captured him and changed the dialogue in Washington. On one occasion speaking in California, DeMint had an epiphany. Even in a state suffering from insolvency, there is hope inspired by young people viscerally opposed to the intrusiveness of big government. Reading about Ronald Reagan DeMint notes, “The longer I live, the more I believe there are no great men, only average men who occasionally do great things.” Indeed it is these average men who influenced Senator DeMint.
Of course, there are detractors, those who are committed to the status quo. When the number of state employees increases geometrically and when 49 percent of Americans do not pay personal income tax, there is a constituency that believes government should be large and taxes high. But sensible people realize this arrangement is not sustainable.
If the United States is to remain a world power offering unprecedented liberty to its citizens, responsible financial measures must be taken. Tea Partiers get it and, after the experience Senator DeMint has had over the last two years, he gets it. The task ahead for conservatives is “to restore the Republican Party to its core principles” and “reearn the trust of the American people.” This mission is the partisan stance for national restoration. And if this book is any indication Senator DeMint is unquestionably in a leadership position.
Herbert London is president of Hudson Institute and professor emeritus of New York University. He is the author of Decade of Denial (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2001).
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