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It's Not Too Late to Save America

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
As has always been the case for Americans, the new year is a time for setting new goals, seeking restoration and renewal, shedding harmful habits, and resolving to do better in the future. For individuals this often means cleaning up the diet, cleaning up the finances, refocusing on relationships, prioritizing physical fitness, and addressing personal shortcomings or flaws that might be impeding one's happiness or success in life. Interestingly, the same kinds of resolutions that millions of Americans across the country made last weekend are applicable to the country as a whole. Here are some resolutions that our nation would do well to adopt for 2016:

Live within our means.

America's national debt is closing in on $20 trillion, compromising the solvency of the current generation and setting our children and grandchildren up for bankruptcy. And contrary to what many of our elected officials and armchair economists seem to believe, we cannot spend our way into prosperity. We must resolve to cut spending at all levels of government, just as our citizens must take renewed responsibility for living within their means. Additionally, as our nation moves forward into the future, we must be responsible stewards of our national economic resources and seek opportunities to invest wisely in for future.

Reinvigorate our national defenses.

At no time in recent memory has America been so beset with adversaries who wish us harm. The Middle East is on fire and ISIS has made clear its intent to bring its brutal jihad to western lands. Russia has begun reasserting its influence in key areas, Iran's regional hegemony is strengthening, China is proving an untrustworthy global partner, and North Korea remains a volatile force in the Far East. History teaches that weakness invites aggression, and after eight years of feckless leadership America's international reputation has suffered, our security has been compromised, and our allies have been made vulnerable. We must make our military a priority again, engage our enemies when national security warrants it, and renew our commitment to Roosevelt's famous "Walk softly, but carry a big stick" doctrine of international leadership.

Revitalize our economy.

Bernie Sanders' rhetorical appeals to socialism may have its charms, but history demonstrates that nations who embrace a collectivist philosophy of economics do not thrive. America's economic engine has recovered a bit since the catastrophe of 2008, but we're a long way from realizing our full potential and this has everything to do with the stifling policies embraced by our leaders. We must eliminate the layers and layers of bureaucratic red tape that stifle innovation; reduce taxes in order to incentivize productivity and investment, and craft economic policy based on sound economic principles instead of liberal dogma that distorts reality.

Cultivate character.

There was a time when America proudly embraced her mantle as a shining city on a hill, proclaiming to the world that she was an exceptional nation. In order for us to be successful in our pursuit of renewed greatness, security, and stability, we must first reclaim our moral and ethical heritage: Virtues such as hard work, deferred gratification, self discipline, honesty and integrity; trustworthiness; and personal and corporate accountability.

As discouraging as things appear to be in so many ways, we can turn the ship of state around if only we possess the collective resolve to do what's necessary. If, however, we treat our national goals like so many New Year's resolutions – long on ambition, grand in rhetoric but forgotten by Valentine's Day – there is little to prevent us from continuing down our current path of decline and increasing irrelevance in the world.

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