Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher argued that "socialism itself -- in all its incarnations, wherever and however it was applied -- was morally corrupting," Claire Berlinski wrote in "There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters" (Basic Books, 2008). "Socialism turned good citizens into bad ones; it turned strong nations into weak ones; it promoted vice and discouraged virtue ... transformed formerly hardworking and self-reliant men and women into whining, weak and flabby loafers."
Republicans are currently debating the surface arguments about the Obama administration's programs -- they cost too much, they are not paid for and there is too much government intervention.
The core of the matter is the same today as it was in Great Britain in the 1970s.
The system President Obama is championing is morally wrong.
In order to win in November, Republican nominee Mitt Romney must win the argument, and thereby win the vote.
The argument is that the system Obama is promoting is bad and that it creates a weak society. Romney needs to articulate what it is to be an American; why we must defend America's core values; why they are good values.
Romney's speech this week at the Clinton Global Initiative reverberated with these themes.
He talked about "the incomparable dignity of work."
"Free enterprise," he said, "has done more to bless humanity than any other economic system not only because it is the only system that creates a prosperous middle class, but also because it is the only system where the individual enjoys the freedom to guide and build his or her own life. Free enterprise cannot only make us better off financially, it can make us better people."
Romney recounted the story of Muhammed Bouazizi of Tunisia. "He was just 26 years old. He had provided for his family since he was a young boy. He worked a small fruit stand, selling to passers-by. The regular harassment by corrupt bureaucrats was elevated one day when they took crates of his fruit and his weighing scales away from him.
"On the day of his protest, witnesses say that an officer slapped Bouazizi and he cried out: 'Why are you doing this to me? I'm a simple person, and I just want to work.'"
"I just want to work," Romney repeated.
"Work. That must be at the heart of our effort to help people build economies that can create jobs for people, young and old alike. Work builds self-esteem," he continued. "It transforms minds from fantasy and fanaticism to reality and grounding. Work will not long tolerate corruption nor quietly endure the brazen theft by government of the product of hardworking men and women."
He linked free enterprise to freedom. "The most successful countries shared something in common," he said. "They were the freest. They protected the rights of the individual. They enforced the rule of law. And they encouraged free enterprise. They understood that economic freedom is the only force in history that has consistently lifted people out of poverty -- and kept people out of poverty."
The next step is for Romney to lay out this argument not only for other countries, but for our own. It works here as well as abroad. There are 12.5 million unemployed Americans; 8 million more are working part-time when they want to work full time; 2.6 million people are so discouraged that they have given up looking for work and are no longer counted as unemployed.
More than 23 million Americans understand the statement, "I just want to work."
These people and those around them understand that there is great dignity in work, and want to work -- but cannot find a job.
In order to win the vote in November, we must first win the argument. America works best when Americans are working. The way to get more Americans to work is to promote freedom, ingenuity and free enterprise. While government programs and subsidies might provide temporary relief, the only proven way to long-term prosperity is to create more jobs, thereby allowing people to lift themselves up, providing not only their monetary needs, but also dignity of purpose.
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