The results are in and my candidate lost the presidency. Since I love this country, I wish the newly named President Barack Obama every success. But this was an election unlike any other. I don’t think the Republicans merely lost an election, I believe many of us lost a country.
This was a land that once rewarded hard work and enterprise. A place where one’s word was his bond. America was the land of opportunity. We were a people to be envied, not only because we had the highest standard living, but because we had the greatest degree of stability.
Americans were notoriously optimistic because we counted on tomorrow being better than yesterday. We were an open people dependent on fair play and a free market bounded by a standard of virtue. With all the blemishes in our past and breaches in our own ethics, we were a model of civic rectitude. Those who wished to bilk the system would be discovered and isolated: “Dems that gives, gets.”
There was a time not so long ago when people did not depend on government to bail them out of financial difficulty, a time when the nanny state bred apprehension, not affection. Now, it seems, in the new America almost everyone wants a free ride. The non-taxpayer wants a rebate from the taxpayer. The poor man wants everything the rich man has and he wants the rich man to give it to him.
Enemies of the nation, it turns out, are not enemies at all; we merely defined them as adversaries. Had we been clever in the past, we could have defined them out of existence. All we have to do is engage in “soft power,” diplomacy and clever negotiating skill. Surely those who want to kill us will be persuaded that swords should be converted into plowshares. It’s odd that Osama bin Laden doesn’t seem to embrace this position.
Yes, many Americans want change. The level of dissatisfaction runs deep. But the national cri de coeur hasn’t a direction. That’s what makes it so dangerous. Notwithstanding the meltdown on Wall Street, Americans live better than at any moment in our collective history, yet despair is ubiquitous. Admittedly observing 401K accounts disappearing as soap bubbles will make anyone angry. Nonetheless, it is a privilege to live in the land of the free, a privilege now regarded as an entitlement.
In an attempt to address the pent up demand for housing, government officials violated every principle of economics and then blamed an unregulated market for the subsequent mortgage failure. It was once wrong to use the instrument of government finance to satisfy a constituency and then claim an unregulated market is what ails us. It was once wrong to lie in a campaign and still is except when the media panjandrums avert their gaze for the lies of a favored candidate.
Where is my America, the place of fair play, individual rights, the rule of law and respect for private property? Was the past merely a dream from which I have awakened? Can that America of exceptionalism return? Can it find its way back into the public consciousness?
I have my doubts. Now the change agents scream “everything will be different.” Alas, they are right. It appears as if everything will be different, most especially the end of an America I loved.