Holding out for a Political Hero; Fresh from the Fight to Make Government Small

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 16, 2012 | Go to article overview

Holding out for a Political Hero; Fresh from the Fight to Make Government Small


Byline: Amy Peikoff, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Now more than ever, Americans want to be inspired by their political leaders, and true leadership is needed desperately. The economy, not just in the United States but worldwide, is in dire straits. Rapidly escalating debt, overextended entitlement programs, immigration and health care all present domestic problems that require intelligent, principled solutions. Extremist movements are gaining political traction in volatile regions like the Middle East, and established rogue states either possess or are on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons.

But there is little to give inspiration in the 2012 presidential field. President Obama, who was elected in 2008 on a wave of enthusiasm and feel-good rhetoric, was a disappointment waiting to happen. The egalitarian nature of his goals coupled with the lack of capital to raid - so much wealth and human initiative had been destroyed that there was almost nothing left to loot - produced an anemic, debt-ridden economy. Mr. Obama has not led by example. He indulges in lavish, frequent vacations and campaign trips using taxpayer dollars, has set presidential records for rounds of golf played, and ignores laws that don't suit him. First lady Michelle Obama's lavish wardrobe and recent London lingerie shopping spree with the queen of Qatar are a symbolic slap at Americans struggling to get by. While Mr. Obama lectures Americans to eat your peas, Mrs. Obama laughs, Let them eat cake.

Republican luminaries also leave much to be desired. Look at the final four : an unprincipled intellectual wild card who is a proven failure as a political leader; a former governor who enacted government-run health care at the state level and has no vision for reducing the size or scope of government; a failed senator who would replace liberal, big-government programs with conservative government intrusion into people's lives; and a serving congressman who understands that government is the problem but whose foreign-policy views are more appropriate for the age of sail and grapeshot than nuclear weapons and global terrorism. None of them has the right mix of experience, policy savvy and charisma to set the race afire, and members of the four opposing camps all wish there could be another Ronald Reagan.

Is this the best America has to offer? Has the energy and message of the Tea Party movement, in particular, gone unheeded? Why does it seem so difficult to find a candidate for president who is electable and inspirational and who truly wants to reduce the size and scope of government?

Part of the answer lies in the nature of big government itself. Frederic Bastiat, 19th-century French classical liberal theorist, wrote that when government goes beyond its proper function of protecting individual rights, when it may violate property instead of securing it, everybody will be wanting to manufacture law, either to defend himself against plunder, or to organize it for his own profit. …

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