Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You?"

I have written blogs about each candidate who announces for the Presidency. This one is about the latest, Marco Rubio, senator from Florida. Actually, it’s not going to be about him, but rather about something he said in his announcement speech that has resonated with me. I have no idea whether or not I will support Rubio, I don’t yet know enough about him. He may very well be a jerk, for all I know, but these lines spoke to me,

“I am humbled by the realization that America doesn’t owe me anything; but I have a debt to America I must try to repay. This isn’t just the country where I was born; America is the place that changed my family’s history.”

Fifty-five years ago, a Democratic President stood on the capitol steps and stirred America with these famous words,

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

John Kennedy was the very last Democrat to make such a suggestion to us. Every Democrat since has had a very different message which can best be described as, “Vote for me and I’ll make sure that the government takes care of you.” In all fairness, Republicans haven’t been much better. Each election seems to be a contest between which party will bring home the most bacon. Washington is now viewed as the source of all solutions to the problems we face. The government now has morphed into a giant vending machine that dispenses favors and benefits. You want 
subsidies for your struggling business? Have our lobbyists write a sweet deal into the 
tax code. You want to insure that buying a home gets subsidized by your fellow 
taxpayers? Give money to the Real Estate lobby to fight tax reform. You want the government to pay you unemployment benefits forever when you lose your job? No problem, vote Democrat. They have all the compassion with other people’s money you can possibly imagine.

Ronald Reagan came along and reminded us that the ten scariest words in the English language are, “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help you.” But, although his heart was in the right place, even he couldn’t slow the inexorable growth of the power and reach of the federal government. Today, it seems that the trend away from self-reliance and towards the welfare state is complete and irreversible.

Then, this 43 year old presidential candidate declares that this country owes him nothing. Not only does it owe him nothing, but he’s the one with the debt, because this country made his life and the life of his family possible. As someone who was born in 1958 into a family who had recently lived in a trailer park in south side Richmond, Virginia, I feel exactly the same way. On the day that I was born, no one in my extended family had ever attended college. One of my grandfathers was a sharecropper in Buckingham County. Now, I sit at this laptop computer contemplating the astounding good fortune which has come my way from a land of such profound opportunity…and I feel nothing but gratitude. I’m the one with the debt. And although Marco Rubio might not get my support, I for one am grateful for a candidate who dares to call us back to a time when all of us felt that debt and that gratitude.