Individual freedom unites us

A distinct national malaise calls for a return to American principles.

by Tyler Stierwalt

WhatâÄôs wrong with our countryâÄôs mood today? President Ronald ReaganâÄôs speechwriter Peggy Noonan described the sentiment of the silent majority several years ago in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece: âÄúIn some deep and fundamental way, things have broken down and canâÄôt be fixed, or wonâÄôt be fixed any time soon.âÄù I happen to agree with her. A distinct malaise has overtaken our nation. After years of high-profile scandals among politicians, excessive spending, an overreach of power by the federal government and the worst unemployment since 1982, Americans are tired of failed policies. I donâÄôt think that could have been clearer in the 2008 election. People truly wanted change, and they voted for a man who espoused âÄúpost-partisan leadershipâÄù and âÄúchange we can believe in.âÄù President Barack Obama, who was supposed to be the âÄúgreat uniter,âÄù has been anything but. A year and some change into his term, Obama has proven to be the most divisive president in history. I think even moderate liberals would agree that heâÄôs done much more to divide the nation than to unite us. Take for example the health care reform bill âÄî the most partisan piece of legislation in decades. It garnered no support from Republicans and opposition from some Democrats. The bill was passed by means that would have our founding fathers rolling over in their graves. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of the bill in early March, âÄúWe have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it,âÄù a blatant slap in the face to the American people, the vast majority of whom opposed federal control of one-sixth of our economy. Health care needs reform: less divisive, more transparent and more democratic reform. The corrupt back-room deals and 1,000-page bills (impossible for the average American to comprehend) seem to be some of the most accurate reflections of an ethically bankrupt society. Perhaps the decadence of the âÄô90s caused us to become nationally complacent, disengaged with the political process and content to vote for the politician who seemed the most attractive or likeable. Those days are over. Perhaps one of the few positive things about the presidency of Obama has been the wakeup call itâÄôs inspired. The American people have realized he is not the centrist that they voted for. For the first time in decades, Americans who have never been âÄúpoliticalâÄù are speaking out in opposition to a radical agenda. What may be acceptable in Socialist-leaning European countries is not acceptable here. We are a center-right nation founded on Christian principles. If you take away the American spirit of self-determination and freedom, you take away the very things that have been ingrained in the subconscious of our nation since the beginning. In almost all instances, less government âÄî not more âÄî is the answer. For too long, the federal government has been on a power trip, left and right. In order to lift our nation out of the malaise, we need to restore confidence in the private sector and eliminate wasteful government bureaucracies. We need to reduce the size and scope of government. Entitlement programs that have bred generations of dependency must slowly be cut. The situation we face today is not unlike the malaise that Reagan described when he took office; unemployment and interest rates were sky-high and America was in a slump. Despite relentless liberal criticism for increasing the deficit (most of which was military spending at the height of the Cold War), Reagan restored trust in the free market and confidence among the American people through prudent tax reform policies that reinvigorated the American economy. He gained widespread support from the American people and won the 1984 election by an absolute landslide. Minnesota was the only state that did not vote for him. Unlike Obama, he seemed a president whom all Americans admired and trusted. Our nationâÄôs best days still lie ahead, if only we can put aside that which divides us and unite in a return to conservative values and common sense principles that have guided us so well over the past two and a half centuries. Tyler Stierwalt University undergraduate student