John Andrews
Will Barack Obama go the way of Jimmy Carter, and lose reelection after demonstrating weak leadership in a troubled economy? A leading purple-state Democrat with a keen nose for the political wind signaled last week that he thinks it might happen.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper told a reporter that despite his nine-point walkover in 2008, the president would “have a hard time” winning here right now, because “there’s such dissatisfaction over people who have been out of work” for months or even years.

Though Hick’s warning wasn’t an outright prediction of Obama’s defeat, it’s significant because our state is widely considered a must-win if he is to hold the White House.

If voters throw out the incumbent, it will be as much because of conclusions we the people have reached about ourselves, as because of anything we conclude about the Democratic president and his Republican challenger, whoever that may be.

We’ll have realized that “consent of the governed” is a responsibility for each of us, not just a mass wave swept along by partisan currents and media gales. Again in 2012, as in 1980 when Carter was ousted, Americans will have decided it’s grab the steering wheel or crash. The leadership reversal we could see next year will simply be the culmination of a citizenship resurgence that began a year or two ago.

The Tea Party movement, consciously echoing the determined citizens who resisted royal oppression and later wrote consent into the Declaration of Independence, is the most potent force for reassertion of America’s founding principles since the Reaganauts of the 1970s refused to believe our best days were behind us. Its emergence in 2009 answered my hope, expressed in several 2007 columns, for a responsibility movement to challenge both parties and reach beyond them.

The conscience our self-government has long lacked is awake again at last. A GOP president taking office in 2013, if such occurs, would find himself or herself equally under the skeptical Tea Party eye as the GOP Congress does now. The new political mandate is to do the right thing; not the easy or customary thing, but the right thing and nothing less. What a welcome change, and just in time to save ourselves – if we still can.

Doing the right thing by choice, and then owning the consequences of your choice: that’s personal responsibility. There’s no other antidote to the debt candy and the entitlement addiction gripping Democrats and Republicans alike. No other antidote to the fiscal deficits engulfing state and federal budgets. No other antidote to the moral deficit of throwaway marriages, negligent parenting, rigged school tests, hacked cell phones.


John Andrews

John Andrews is former president of the Colorado Senate and the author of "Responsibility Reborn: A Citizen's Guide to the Next American Century"