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Questions for the Undecided Voter

A few weeks ago, I wrote to those people who can recite the winners of the last 117 seasons of American Idol, but can’t name their elected representatives. But there is another type of undecided voter … people for whom the major limitation is that of time. Between work, taking children to and from athletic events and practices, and the frenzied pace of simply maintaining a functioning household where food is prepared, laundry is done, and the place is kept up, there is precious little time left to absorb and consider the endless barrage of news events. Both the Democratic and Republican conventions experienced a decline in viewership because, in my opinion, everyone knew how they would end. Each party concluded that their nominee was the best thing to come down the pike since the double decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the truth of the matter notwithstanding (because there is precious little in life better than a double decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich). So why bother watching? Besides which, a politician’s promise is made of the same stuff as the tooth fairy and just as reliable, right?

But now that viewership of the debates is increasing, and people are starting to seriously consider their options, it’s time to decide not only who to vote for, but to evaluate the criteria for making that decision. Is it reasonable, for example, to expect our public servants to exercise their official duties according to the same values as the people they represent?

If we as parents decline to send our child next door to knock little Johnny off his bicycle and take it, ought we to hire politicians to send the IRS to knock Johnny’s dad off his 401K and hand us the loot? If we are to take seriously the Biblical prohibition against covetousness or theft, are we absolved by hiring a middle man? Why should we expect less of our elected representatives than we expect of ourselves and our children?

Do we develop in our children those mental, emotional, and physical qualities that will equip them to provide for themselves and their loved ones, or do we teach them to depend on strangers for their wellbeing? Here I pause to note that data from the Social Security Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Agriculture shows that the total number of people employed in the US has declined by .7 percent in the last four years, while during that same time frame the number of people on food stamps has increased 65.2 percent. Is it reasonable to reject those politicians and policies who increase public dependence even as we would reject those ideas that would increase our own children’s dependence? Why would such values as are good and proper for our children be thought wrong and improper for our nation?

When approved for a mortgage, would you forge your child’s signature on the loan to relieve yourself of responsibility? Would you open up multiple lines of credit under your child’s name, using funds from one credit account to pay for the other knowing that one day your offspring will grow up to a big, fat debt that they didn’t cause, but are responsible for nonetheless? That’s what your government has done by running up $16,000,000,000,000 in debt for which you and everyone in your home is individually responsible for to the tune of $142,000 per person. And President Obama continues to overspend by $1,000,000,000,000 annually. Would you run your home’s finances this way?

By the way, do you lock your doors at night? Or do you prefer to leave the doors open to welcome any “undocumented residents” that may feel inclined to walk in and help themselves to your food, your furniture, your electronics and other belongings? Assuming you prefer to secure your property, is it too much to expect your local government, supported by your tax dollars, to enforce laws against trespassing? How would you react if your local government not only declined to enforce the law, but prohibited you from locking your doors? Because of course, that’s exactly what the Obama Administration did with regard to Arizona’s efforts to secure its border with Mexico after the feds refused to enforce federal immigration laws. At a time when terrorists plot attacks on American soil, why is it unreasonable to expect the federal government to be at least as vigilant in securing our borders as we are in securing our property?

And how would you feel if your yard were suddenly full of protesters who wanted some of the goodies from your home? What if they “occupied” your lawn with the encouragement of local officials? Clint Eastwood can’t be everywhere, after all. What sort of reception would you be inclined to give the mayor if he showed up with a teleprompter and announced that you didn’t build your home? Would your gratitude be such that you’d vote to re-elect the guy and agree to his plan to raise your taxes in exchange for even less protection?

For that matter, if your neighborhood were to become the object of violent intentions from various gangs, would you applaud your mayor for responding by reducing the police force and opening negotiations with the gangs? If a neighbor, however unadvisedly, posted a sign in his yard saying unpleasant things about the criminal element that was threatening the area, would you prefer the neighbor’s arrest over the defeat of the criminals? On September 11th, four Americans, including our Ambassador, were killed in a coordinated terrorist attack and the Obama Administration’s response thus far has been to denounce and arrest an American citizen who made a film that insults the ostensibly peaceful religion of Islam. Oh yes, and after denouncing the American citizen, the President went straight away to a fund raising event in Las Vegas. Feeling safe yet?

On a more fundamental level, is the nature of your relationship with your children such that they exist for your benefit? Well, that doesn’t quite ring true to the parental ear, does it? But extrapolate it out another layer and ask whether you exist for the benefit and support of the government? Because when politicians count your after-tax income as a “tax expenditure,” as President Obama has done repeatedly, what they are saying is that the portion of your earnings that you get to keep is actually costing them just as surely as if it had come from Treasury accounts. In other words, your earnings belong to them first, and they will let you keep only as much as they can afford for you to have. Your work, your time, it all belongs to the state, and of course, if the government owns your earnings, it owns you as well and your freedom has gone the way of the Dodo.

The crucial question therefore is whether the citizen exists for the purposes of the government, or whether the government exists to protect the life and liberty of the citizen. Who is the servant and who the master? For that matter, does the private sector exist to fund the state and its experiments on individual sovereignty? If so, then Barack Obama, and his fundamental transformation of America from a country based on limited Constitutional government to a country where a central authority manages the individual, and where you and your family exist to support the state, is your ticket. But if you believe that it is you who employs the government, not the other way around; if you believe that in America it’s the people who are sovereign; if you believe in an America where the values we teach our children apply to our politicians as well; and if you believe that the greatest country on earth doesn’t need fundamental transformation, but rather restoration to the principles that made it great in the first place, then I’d like to interest you in a bracing alternative: Send Barack Obama and his party packing, evict them from the White House as well as the House of Representatives and the Senate, and elect instead Mitt Romney and other Republicans who not only cite the Constitution, but vow to respect the limits it places on government. Then stay vigilant and keep them honest. Your children and grandchildren are counting on you.

(image from newyorker.com)