American Elephants

There is a difference, and it matters! by The Elephant's Child

Statue of Liberty

It’s no wonder they sometimes call the campaign season “the silly season”. So many accusations flow back and forth, it often seems that they are talking about everything except what is important to the American people. Much gets lost in the constant flow of words and images.

Vanished into the ether is often the understanding of just what the two parties stand for, and how they are different. People frequently claim that there is not a whit of difference. Polls show that voters are inclined to credit one party with the faults of the other, and think that their party will do something to which it is actually completely opposed. Confusion reigns. Voters blame the President for things over which he has no control; and expect their candidate to accomplish wonders that he cannot possibly effect. And the media only increases the confusion.

Candidates make engaging promises to “fix the economy”, they will “achieve energy independence”, “stop global warming”, and it’s not going to happen. The economy is a $14 trillion behemoth. Every three months 7 million Americans change jobs. Neither presidents nor congress are powerful enough or wise enough to steer this immense, constantly changing, hive of activity. About all we can do is to create a lightly regulated climate that will favor long term growth, and encourage citizens to participate.

We are not going to achieve energy independence. Our economy is too large and Utopian solutions of sun and wind and tide are not going to replace petroleum in the foreseeable future. The globe is always either warming or cooling, and we can only hope to improve our ability to adapt. The warming and cooling are caused by action of the sun and cosmic rays and beyond our ability to effect. But we do have a secret weapon.

The weapon is human intelligence and inventiveness and the driving energy is freedom. Creativity cannot be ordered by government. Bureaucracy destroys it. It arises in response to need or hope, and is nurtured by the ability to freely follow one’s ideas. Who invented the common safety pin? I don’t know, but you can be sure it was someone spurred on by irritation at another lost button. And how much creativity has come from just asking what if? what if? what if?

That is what Republicans are all about. Conservatives prize freedom. We celebrate the founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution because they are the source of our freedom. To be sure, there are many irritations and disappointments and dashed hopes, and as Irving Kristol once said:

In every society the overwhelming majority of people live lives of considerable frustration and if society is to endure, it needs to rely on a goodly measure of stoical resignation.

But can’t we expect more than that? Stop and think. Can you remember perfect days in your life? Was your wedding day perfect? Graduation day? The day you got that promotion? And if those days were perfect what about the rest of them? Is there something that a politician can promise you that will create perfection?

Freedom does not promise perfection. Freedom puts you in charge of your own life so that you can do with it what you can. America promises you equality before the law, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and the Constitutional Bill of Rights. You might look them up and think about their value.

Others offer “human rights” and “social justice”, and you have to really think about those things to understand what is being offered.

Or look at some examples of what is happening in other countries like Canada, or England, countries much like us. We know what happens in countries like Burma or Iran or Venezuela. But these are our friends and neighbors and things are drifting away and they don’t know how to stop it.

You can’t just assume that freedom will always be there. You have to defend it. You have to stand up and be counted. You have to be wake and aware.

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