After a day with my four grandchildren at Disneyland, we ended the day by taking in Abraham Lincoln’s simulated speech on Main Street. Both the movements and the message have been enhanced.
The simulated Lincoln spoke the words from one of his earliest speeches to the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield, IL. Stirred to outrage after a mob burned a young black man, the 28-year-old Lincoln talked about the only enemy America must fear: “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” Oh, how right he was.
Lincoln took pride in saying, “I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” That’s the America Dream in a sentence. “We the people” have the same God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We’re not defined by our ancestors, our race, our age, gender or religion. We are free to make of ourselves what we can become. Freedom ensures unequal outcomes—some will succeed and others will fail and be forced to rebound poorer but hopefully wiser to try again.
On the census, proud citizens should mark only one defining box—“American.” When politicians are asked, “What ‘special’ are you going to do for me and my group?” Patriotic leaders should say, “Nothing! But I give you something more important. I will work to ensure that every individual receives the same freedoms and rights.”
For years, American rights have been turned on their heads. It hasn’t been sudden, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Teddy Roosevelt’s Square Deal, Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom, and FDR’s New Deal—all chiseled away at America’s founding principles. All promised a seductive social contract based on “economic rights”—the right to a job, a decent home, medical care, decent wages and benefits. These entitlements were supposed to make us secure, or at least to “feel” more secure. Now the costs of these “Great Society” programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obama’s new healthcare plan, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s home loans people can’t afford, business bailouts, and other kindred welfare services are finally being recognized for what they are—uncontrollable and unaffordable.