It has become an accepted truism in American politics that both Democrats and Republicans want the same things: a prosperous America, a strong America, an America true to principles of freedom and liberty.
Perhaps 50 years ago that was true.
Today, it no longer is.
The fact is that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are no longer arguing over means; we are arguing over ends. Democrats know that economic prosperity for the broad swath of the United States cannot be bought with higher taxes; even Bill Clinton recognized as much in the 1990s, which is why he lowered capital gains taxes dramatically after raising personal income taxes just as dramatically. Instead, Democrats argue, as President Obama did in 2008, that taxes must be raised "for purposes of fairness."
Democrats also know that American influence in the world can't be attained purely with negotiations, timetables and unilateral pullouts. Kind words don't win hearts, and they don't defend our friends from aggression. Democrats simply hope to be left alone. After all, as President Obama has said, America has demonstrated "arrogance" and sought to "dictate our terms" to other countries. And that just isn't fair.
Fairness lies at the root of the Democratic agenda. It's a leveling agenda, not a growth agenda. What's more, it's a philosophy of constant revolution since ultimate fairness can never be achieved in a world where we are all blessed with different gifts. The philosophy that prizes fairness above all else -- at least in material and cultural terms -- can never achieve human happiness, since such fairness can never be attained. And even if it (SET ITAL) could (END ITAL) be attained, it would require unbelievable levels of suppression. The human spirit is not built to serve the god of fairness.
Prosperity and strength lie at the root of the Republican agenda. Conservatives don't support lower taxes because we hate the poor.
Conservatives support lower taxes because lower taxes create prosperity for everyone. Individuals always know more about their lives than any bureaucrat does. They know more about their needs and wants. They know which products they require, and they know how to find the best deal. No government can better distribute resources than individuals making individual decisions can. Competitive markets have done more to create wonderful products and raise the quality of living across the globe than any other institution. Central planning does not create wealth. It merely redistributes poverty.
When it comes to America's role in the world, conservatism does not rely on America to be one among many. We must be proud of our role as a global leader. Our values (SET ITAL) are (END ITAL) superior to those of other countries. Our system, prizing limited government and preserving individual liberties, is the greatest system of government ever devised. Why would we run from the honor of leading? Why would we shirk that responsibility? Most importantly, if we wish to see the world a happier place, why would we deny to others the opportunity to share in our lot, especially if it preserves our interests to do so?
Mitt Romney knows all this. Barack Obama does not. That's why Obama suggests on Jay Leno that banks have to be regulated because they're "in it to make money." And that's why Mitt Romney knows that businesses must be encouraged to profit-seek, rather than punished for doing so. That's why Obama leaves American ambassadors to die overseas rather than giving an intervention order. That's why Romney knows that backing down in the face of foreign fire is a recipe for disaster, not peace.
The Democratic road leads to an end: Europe.
The Republican road leads to an end: a resurgent, dominant America on the world scene.
We can choose to fade into oblivion, suffering from high taxes and broken promises, telling ourselves that the government will take care of us even as we go broke. Or we can choose to rise again, believing in the values that made us great. In less than a week, that choice is in our hands.<