Mike Needham
America is at a crossroads. Will we embrace American exceptionalism or will accept a slow, managed decline? The outcome of the 2010 elections signaled that our nation's founding principles still resonate with Americans of all stripes. The current struggle over whether and how to raise our nation's debt ceiling is another battle in the long war over what sort of country we leave our children and grandchildren.

The debate has all but consumed Washington and Americans all around the country. For decades, raising the debt ceiling was a foregone conclusion, perhaps just an opportunity for political posturing. That is the way President Obama and his allies in Congress wanted it to be this year, too.

Instead, it has turned into a mechanism to get our dilapidated fiscal house in order. If you’re looking for a sign of just how strong the Tea Party movement remains and how much the freshmen in Congress have changed the tone in Washington, this is it.

To understand the importance of this debate, we must understand where our country is headed. We can see it in Europe, especially in Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal. European countries have long been held as a shining example of the left’s tax and spend policies, and look where they are now. Unless we act, our children and grandchildren will experience similar decline and unrest. Once you are able to look beyond the gimmick-riddled compromises emanating from Washington, our epic struggle becomes clear. Will we favor the invisible hand of the market, American exceptionalism and freedom or the heavy hand of government, a managed decline and onerous burdens?

Of course, America’s problems did not start with President Obama, but they have certainly escalated during his tenure. All too often, politicians of all stripes see government as the answer to our problems. President Obama is the embodiment of that way of thinking.

This debate over our nation’s debt is a debate over our future – an opportunity to reject the government growth and largess of the past. As we approach August 2nd, we as a nation have to decide whether we want to follow in the footsteps of our friends across the pond or if we want to save our country and our freedoms for our children and grandchildren.

Mainstream pundits will tell you this is a battle that cannot be won. They’ll say conservatives have neither the leverage nor the ideas to triumph. They are wrong on both accounts. The real question is whether conservatives in Congress have the will to succeed.

Mike Needham

Mike Needham is the Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Action for America, a grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to advancing legislation that promotes freedom, opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.