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Democracies Die When Liberty Gives Way to Dependence

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

McCain has Joe the Plummer. Obama has Peggy Joseph. Interviewed after an Obama campaign event in Sarasota, Florida, Peggy emotionally summarized what it means to her for Barack Obama to be president: "It was the most memorable time of my life. It was a touching moment, because I never thought this day would happen. I won't have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won't have to worry about paying my mortgage. You know, if I, if I help him [Barack], he’s gonna help me!"

If that doesn’t send fears down your spine, ponder the words of the Scottish jurist and historian, Sir Alexander Fraser Tytler. Over 200 years ago, he provided a chilling observation on the fall of the Athenian Republic. America has been a beacon of liberty and hope for our citizens and the world for over 230 years. But Tytler warned of the natural rise and fall of every democracy:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence; from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependency back again into bondage."

Our next president will set America's course for the next decade. We’re running deficits in Washington and most of our major states. The growing costs for Medicare, employee pensions, and social security are out of control, and there's no political consensus or will to deal with these runaway entitlements. We vote to approve bonds that don’t raise taxes now but pass more debt on to future generations.

In America today, it's hard to win elections by talking about cutting government spending—saying "no" to anything or anyone at election time is a sure way of losing votes. As a result, too many Americans are becoming addicted to government saving them from their own failure to live within their means. Democrats play the enabler! Capitalizing on that addiction, Democrats promise more if Americans just give them full control in Washington.

Starting during President Johnson's term, our country tried spending our way to becoming a very compassionate country. Over three decades, our government invested 5.4 trillion dollars in welfare payments in our "War on Poverty." The investment would have been worth it, if it had worked, but it didn't eliminate poverty.

In fact, the results of this type of government-run compassion have been devastating, creating a debilitating dependence on the very programs that were designed to help. Ronald Reagan said it well: "Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence."

Compassion should be measured by how many people no longer need government programs instead of by how many are served by them. We need a safety net, not a hammock. As our first Republican President Abraham Lincoln said, "The worst thing you can do for those you love is the thing they could and should do for themselves."

We've gone from protecting the unfortunate to supporting the irresponsible. In fact, many liberal politicians seem to want to keep citizens dependent on government. They hate poverty so much that they reward it!

Unfortunately, whatever you reward you get more of! So if my response to your entry-level job is to raise your minimum wage beyond its market value, you're more likely to stay in that dead-end job. Why go to college or learn a new skill if you can get enough money settling for a job with minimum skills?

Republicans support economic tough love that challenges all citizens to better themselves. A free-market economy rewards achievement and not anything less. Is that mean-spirited? We loved our son enough to teach him early that in a competitive world you don’t get everything you want just because you want it. We showed him our love, but we also let him know that he would experience the consequences for his own choices. If he didn't save his money, he wouldn't have money to spend. If he got in trouble in school, he'd be accountable not excused.

In America, all citizens are guaranteed "the pursuit of happiness," not happiness given to them by a controlling government. Democrats would have you believe that every American is entitled to full healthcare, welfare, and high wages whether they've earned it or not. And, of course, who is supposed to pay for all these entitlements, those greedy, "wealthy" Americans who already pay most of the taxes! Will Rogers said it years ago, "I remember back when a liberal was someone who was generous with his own money."

Gerald Ford summed it up well, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have." Socialism is not new. It's failed wherever it has been tried. It won’t help you achieve your dreams; it will only punish and stifle your success! Obama believes you can't live the American Dream without taking your neighbor's money to give you another entitlement. That's not the American Dream; that's a nightmare.

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