When I was younger I lived in more of a black and white world. At least, it seemed that way compared to today. I can still vividly recall the final years of the Cold War era. My dad was an Air Force pilot who was often in an underground bunker in case there was a need to mobilize or respond to a nuclear war. I was able to see up close the jets and bombers ready to deliver a brilliant arsenal in the name of Western freedom. And if we didn’t die, we’d at least be glowing in its aftermath. But even as a kid I understood that there were men and women ready to mobilize at a moments notice for a commonly shared worldview, for our government of, by, and for the people. I lived through the entirety of the Ronald Reagan presidency and remember his dominance over freedom’s landscape. Now we don’t even collectively agree on what is worth preserving or what is worth championing in the West. In fact, it’s fascinating and sad that we are now living through the collapse or sunset of many aspects of Western freedom and values. A little depressing I know, so I’ll get to some good news below.
Getting older certainly causes you to reflect more about the world around you. It can be harder to get outraged about politics for the sake of politics alone. Particularly when you are old enough to see a lot of the same arguments and policy fights over and over. Obviously, I don’t mean that they aren’t important, but that partisanship is less appealing over clear principles and values. That’s why organizations like the Civitas Institute are so important because the guidance is rooted in something much deeper than trying to elevate a political party or a trendy politician.
I always find it amazing that people think politics alone can collectively cure us of our national or personal ills. That’s not a conservative belief at all, given it almost always requires putting faith or trust in a strong man or messianic like movement that promises great things or protection. And it’s almost always on the condition of centralizing more power.
At any rate, the belief that politics or the “right” politicians can cure us of something has always been troubling. Identity politics and the continued attempts to invent new rights particularly embrace that kind of dubious thinking.
When I was a kid I remember the alarm over the federal debt. Nobody hardly seems to talk about the federal debt or our federal deficits anymore. This was a huge crisis in the 1980s that was at least discussed in a serious fashion by lawmakers in Washington. Back then it was around $2 trillion, now it’s just over $22 trillion. It’s laughable to see all the spending proposals coming out of Washington and the presidential campaigns. It’s a collective indictment on all of us too for letting it happen. Every once in awhile Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) and maybe a couple of others take to the floor to try and talk some sense into our highest legislative body but they are predictably labeled obstructionist or uncompassionate for not continuing along with the spending binge.
That is why what has happened in recent years in North Carolina has been encouraging. Elected officials working for spending restraint and returning money to the citizenry is not always common. After all, one of the government’s primary roles is not only to be a good steward of the taxpayer money but to protect our property from plunder. It’s especially encouraging to see our State Treasurer Dale Folwell go up against some members of his own party and deep pockets to save taxpayer dollars by demanding pricing transparency in the state health plan. Thrift is a dying virtue so we should certainly champion when we see it.
There will always be a multitude of crisis in the world. I was born into a world that lived under a much greater possibility of nuclear annihilation. However, today our world has improved in so many ways, from advances in technology and medicine to the historic decline of global poverty. Totalitarianism has shrunk exponentially in my lifetime. A vivid reminder that should continually reinforce to us that freedom flourishes when we limit the power of the state.
I was born on the anniversary of Paul Revere’s Ride and Jimmy Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo. Two pretty big events in American history. Those were two moments in which freedom was again starting to expand. It would prove costly but freedom is always worth fighting for in a great land like ours.