EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 19, 2012

Column: This election, like 1980, is a choice between two views of America

Barbara Anderson
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — “It’s morning again in America!” the Reagan presidential campaign announced in 1980.

As the Summer Olympics was ending, with 104 U.S. gold medals, I was wondering what would be inspiring to watch next. I soon learned: We are going for the gold in a presidential election.

This is what I’ve been waiting for: another election, like 1980’s, in which we will debate two opposing visions of America, instead of just getting by with focus group positions, rehearsed talking points, efforts to pander to various special interest groups, sappy slogans like “hope and change.”

I know, “morning again in America” was a sappy slogan, until it was proven true, as Americans recovered from the “misery index” of the Carter years and began to believe in the American Dream once more.

However, even then there was more work to be done on the “entitlement society” and the national debt, which has taken us into the dusk, with the dead-of-night pending. Certainly Obama’s 2008 slogan “hope and change” hasn’t lived up to its own sappy rainbow’s promise. Now, as Congressman Paul Ryan says, the Obama forces rely on an “envy, division and resentment strategy” to get themselves re-elected.

To this end, and my amusement, the Obama campaign has been attacking Mitt Romney by calling him “RomneyHood — Robin Hood in reverse,” apparently not realizing that Robin Hood led the Sherwood Forest Taxpayer Association of peasants which fought Big Government — the wicked Prince John and the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. With his bold choice of Paul Ryan for his vice-president, Romney joins Robin as one of my activist heroes.

He has shown his willingness to take a chance on the American voters, to give them credit for understanding the problem and being ready to address it. This team will put the economy ahead of everything else, because without the economic fix, everything else is in jeopardy. America can deal with war, terrorism, disease control, climate concerns, energy concerns, all the big issues, only if America is solvent; no country can thrive under overwhelming debt any more than we individuals can.

Anyone who says that what’s happening in Greece can’t happen here is delusional. The Greeks, who founded democracy, got carried away voting themselves goodies from the public treasury; we are no different. Already, some American cities are facing bankruptcy, because of extraordinary unfunded public employee pension and health insurance liabilities as well as operating debt.

The Greeks are close to the dead-of-night, the place where neither tax increases nor austerity will solve the problem, and everyone reluctant to lend them more money. We must wish them well while trying to turn ourselves around before it gets that bad here.

No one who is paying attention can deny that the deficit and the national debt are out-of-control, that Medicare “as we know it” is heading for bankruptcy soon, with Social Security close behind. The current president and vice president won’t save us; the Democrats have no budget, no plan, just the ongoing mantra “tax the rich” in response to any fiscal question.

We also know that many Republicans haven’t had the political courage to take on the tough issues, except for some longtime deficit hawks and the tea party candidates who supported Paul Ryan when, as House Budget Committee Chairman, he attempted essential reforms. A lack of political courage may be understandable if Romney and Ryan are wrong in their estimation of the American voters.

Obama Democrats count on women of the “gender gap” not making a connection between liberal economic policies and the economy that hurts their families: on young voters not realizing that attacking “the rich” doesn’t create jobs for them; on senior citizens following the AARP with its lack of concern for their grandchildren; on minorities buying the accusation that any attempt at fiscal responsibility is racist. Romney/Ryan will reach out to them all with an honest evaluation of the problems that can’t be ignored any longer.

After the VP announcement, the Obama pundits seemed at a loss on the Sunday talking head shows. One called Paul Ryan “Sarah Palin with substance and a paper trail”; that’s an insult? Congressional Democrats are forced to admit that Paul Ryan is principled and pleasant – because we will all notice this – before attacking him for being radical, extremist, and religious.

I’ve been watching him since his leadership against ObamaCare; didn’t know until this week that he is more socially conservative than I, as Ronald Reagan was, and I didn’t care then either. At the time the presidential priority was turning around the economy and defeating the Evil Empire; with Romney/Ryan it will be defeating the selfish, short-sighted tendencies of our worst selves, who’ll pass on trillions in debt to future generations.

We can debate social issues later, after we have saved the country from policies that will leave us with little energy to argue or money to contribute to our various social causes, not to mention charities. Right now we need to honor the Romney/Ryan optimism and belief in American voters by encouraging citizens of good will to visualize morning in America, again.

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Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a regular contributor to the opinion pages