Jon Sanders

In a famous moment of American oratory, President John F. Kennedy during his inaugural address urged "my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

Such a "country first" message resounded then, during the height of the Cold War, and it still echoes in civics classrooms across the nation. Meanwhile, the candidate looking to become the next revered Democrat president has been traveling the country sneering at the technological shortfalls of one who answered then what he could do for his country and entreating his Americans fellow to ask, beg, organize and demand what their country under him could do for their groups.

That is one reason why Sen. Barack Obama needed an older, more experienced Democrat as his running mate: to try to smooth over the jarring incongruity between the Democratic Party during Kennedy's day and the unabashedly socialistic party of today trying to bargain away individual freedom on the basis of group privileges and favors. Biden recognized that the "ask what you can do for your country" part was being neglected while the Obama/Biden ticket was so enthusiastically overturning that inconvenient "ask not" part.

Kennedy's "ask" was open-ended, requiring an answer within each individual, befitting the times. Biden and the Democrats of today operate from the assumption that people today are too deplorably stupid to know what's best for them — they buy the wrong cars, make the wrong energy choices, buy the wrong light bulbs, put their groceries in the wrong bags, don't know what amount of health insurance is proper and certainly don't know that socialized healthcare would cut that Gordian knot of individual decision-making altogether!

So Biden magnanimously answers Kennedy's question for them. He dubs paying taxes "patriotic." He did this on ABC's "Good Morning, America," saying that while Obama would increase taxes on the wealthy, "It's time to be patriotic." And has said it in it political rallies, telling a woman who said her friends are worried that under Obama they faced a tax increase, that she should say to them: "It's time to be patriotic."


Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.