I began running 23 years ago, during a summer when I was living in Washington, D.C.
Since then, during visits to the nation's capital, I run the same six-mile route I ran then: from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and back. Some years I am faster than others, but my goal is always to finish -- time does not matter. Last week, I ran that same route.
My favorite part of the run occurs midway through, when I run up the stairs to the Lincoln Memorial and pause to read the inscriptions in the memorial -- the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address. The Gettysburg Address, delivered on Nov. 19, 1863, closes with the phrase, "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Lincoln delivered his Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865, after almost four years of internal bloody conflict. It includes the powerful phrase, "with malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in."
It reminds me of the work we are now in. This week, Newt Gingrich launched a new book, "To Save America." This is the work in which we are now engaged. Candidate Barack Obama ran on the theme of "hope and change" during the 2008 presidential election. Since then, as president, he has moved forward with his idea of change by bailing out companies, passing stimulus bills and passing health care reform. His underlying belief: Those in control of the government are smarter than the average person. Since government officials are smarter, they should step in and help those who are not smart enough to help themselves. Confronted with this underlying message, the American voters might be expected to give up hope and let the government control their lives.
But hope springs eternal.
According to 51 percent of voters nationwide, the United States is "the last, best hope of mankind," according to a Rasmussen Report poll released Sunday. The telephone survey included 1,000 likely U.S. voters and had a sampling error of 3 percent.