Terry Paulson

In President Obama's State of the Union Address, the president shared a quote by Abraham Lincoln that finally got Republicans to rise and applaud a core principle that America used to stand for: "You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”

Unfortunately, his programs and policies don't match his words. On the one hand, he talks of an America that rewards hard work and success and ensures that all play by the same rules but, moments later, promises to change the rules and raise taxes on a very few wealthy Americans.

His double-speak would be comical if it were not so maddening: "We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do extremely well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules." Obama's liberal definition of "fairness" is anything but fair. Liberal "fairness" demands that government must take more from the top five percent of wealthy Americans who already pay 60% of the income tax load to fund the benefit programs for Americans who pay no income taxes and, according to liberals, can't get by without government help.

Gov. Mitch Daniels in the GOP response rightfully called this approach "trickle-down government." Americans have a choice this November--a government that will do everything it can to get out the way so that private enterprise can flourish and jobs can be created or a government that keeps extending handouts and adding debt.

If President Obama had embraced Abraham Lincoln's full quote, he would have had the non-partisan support he says that he wants: “You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”

During the Republican January 16th debate in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich received a standing ovation. Why? Because he took a politically incorrect stand for conservative principles that contrasted America's choice: More government dependence or more personal responsibility and opportunity.

Questioned by Juan Williams on whether referring to President Obama as "the food stamp president" was belittling people, Gingrich stood his ground: "The fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history. Now, I know among the politically correct you're not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable.... They haven't helped the people. They haven't done anything. (cheers and applause) I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness, and if that makes liberals unhappy, I'm gonna continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job, and learn someday to own the job."

Rush Limbaugh recently observed that there is a political Berlin Wall that divides America. Conservatives embrace a West Berlin mentality; the liberal special interest groups are trapped in East Berlin thinking. One side embraces freedom and opportunity; the other settles for "special treatment" and more government dependence.

We need a president who will tear down the wall and truly let all Americans play by the same rules and reap the benefits and consequences that freedom allows. Instead of depending on Washington handouts, it's time to let neighbors help neighbors instead of continually expanding government entitlement programs.

Let me end with another admonition from Lincoln: “I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. So while we do not propose any war on capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else.” Let's elect a president who still believes that "We the people" can achieve our American dream by coping with life's challenges and seizing available opportunities.


Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

 
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