One of the things I love about speaking with college students is the no-nonsense approach so many take. Your generation can detect falseness and hypocrisy from miles away. You want leaders who will not feed you a line of nonsense or sell you short.
Unfortunately, a lot of nonsense is peddled in
Think about the issues you condzfront as you look to make your way in the world: a difficult job market paired with debt, in a country where economic security seems like a thing of the past.
Now think about how
How, exactly, is that contributing to economic security-for you, for your parents, or for any other Americans?
Entitlement spending and interest on the debt will consume all tax revenue in the near future. It is not a question of if a debt crisis will occur in America. It is only a question of when. There is no question that this crisis will hit your generation hardest.
Of course, as important as
The government tells you what kind of lightbulbs you can buy, what kind of toilet can be in your home, how much water can come out of your showerhead. Privacy is seemingly an antiquated notion, with government snoops able to access third-party records, such as phone records, e-mails, financial records, and pretty much any other personal information they want, without a judge's warrant.
These are not simply policy problems; they reflect an abandonment ofprinciples. America has drifted away from the constitutional principles of limited government, separation of powers, and individual liberty.
The path forward lies in reclaiming the ideas at the heart of America's Founding: respect for the Constitution and respect for the individual.
"As Government Expands, Liberty Contracts"
To paraphrase President
Unfortunately, when one warns of big government, he or she risks being called an "anarchist" or even a "terrorist" by political opponents. That kind of name-calling does nothing to advance the political discourse, nor does it address the fundamental problems our nation is facing. Such partisan bickering is just one of the many things about
But conservatives can't simply blame the partisanship of the opposition for the failure to tame the government Leviathan. We need to do a better job of communicating why big government is the problem-why it is bad for the economy, freedom, and a restrained, yet strong, foreign policy.
Unless we can make this case, we'll always be at a disadvantage in a debate with liberals who want the government to take on an even greater role in American life. That's because liberal promises seem tangible: the government will launch yet another expensive new spending program to help Americans-by paying for food, day care, preschool, health care, you name it.
Politicians who promote these spending programs don't acknowledge
the unavoidable fact that their initiatives will send America further into debt or force the government to raise taxes, or both.
But conservative solutions are tangible too. We're not just saying no to more government. Our proposals will lead the way to more prosperity, more stable families, political decisions made at the local level, a dollar that holds up in a global marketplace, an education system that puts students and parents first, a vibrant culture supported by religious institutions, and opportunities for young people like you to grow and lead America into a renewed age of freedom.
In his farewell speech in 1989,
What our country needs is the kind of system that made America so prosperous, with a limited government that largely does not interfere with individuals and their pursuit of happiness but allows people to be rewarded for their hard work and creativity.
Our political opponents and the media like to portray conservatives as unconcerned about the poor, senior citizens, and minorities. Nothing could be further from the truth. But we need to do a better job of communicating the promise of conservatism, not simply the failures of liberalism. We advocate not for special privileges for "the rich" but rather for a flourishing economy that lifts everyone up, creating millions of jobs and lessening the burden of taxes and government regulation.
We need to shout to anyone who will listen, "More freedom and less government means more jobs, more wealth, and a better life for everyone." Despite the trillions of taxpayer dollars spent on bailouts and "stimulus" plans over the past several years, the economy hasn't fully recovered from the Great Recession.
One in six Americans lives in poverty, more than at any other time in the past several decades. This is unacceptable.
For conservatism to grow, we must stand on principle. We must stand for something so powerful and so popular that it brings together people from the left and the right and the middle. We don't need to dilute what we believe. We need to convince everyone that with the Constitution as our guide, our principles and our policies will provide the greatest good for the most people.
We know these principles and these policies work because our country has tried them before. We don't need to look too far back into history to see that.
Decentralization of power is the best policy. Government is more efficient, more just, and more personal when it is smaller and more local. By decentralizing government, we strengthen communities, allowing people to depend on and care for one another, rather than on some distant, incompetent bureaucracy masquerading as defender of the common good. This is a message we need to do a better job communicating.
We also need to remind our fellow citizens that balanced budgets and limited government doesn't mean no government. It means
The government can do a lot with
A Foundation in Principles
To better communicate our message, we must marshal the facts and have a deep understanding of the principles that informed our Founders. Policy battles are important, but if we don't have a firm grounding in principles, politics becomes sport, with our focus narrowing to follow electoral returns, legislative vote tallies, and other short-term measures.
Without that foundation in principles, we can easily lose sight of our real goal: securing for ourselves and for future generations the freedom and prosperity that have always marked America's greatness.
As students, you have a great opportunity to immerse yourself in America's history and the principles of liberty. I am a proud Republican, but I am a conservative first. That is to say, my conservatism has always been more philosophical in nature than partisan. I am a Republican because I believe my party is the best outlet for the defense-and advancement-of the principles of liberty. I encourage you to discover those principles yourself and become an advocate for them.
There is no substitute for studying history. When you look to history, you quickly see that debates about the proper role and scope of government are nothing new. Founders
I also encourage you to study what great thinkers have had to say about both individual liberty and personal responsibility. In school I read the great nineteenth-century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, whose brilliant narratives illustrate the importance of conscience and faith-the belief that if there were no God, everything would be permissible. I also began to read a lot of free-market economists from the
A debt crisis looms in this country, and
America needs a new generation of leaders to defend the Constitution, defend individual liberty-including our first liberty, religious freedom-and defend the freedom and prosperity that have made our country the beacon of the world.
In the past, leaders like
Who will become the next generation of leaders?
I urge you to step up to the challenge-to preserve the American dream for yourself and future generations.
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