Will a Weakened American Character Defeat Paul Ryan?

The Republican vice-presidential candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan, is the Democrats’ political version of the Anti-Christ. He believes in self-reliance; the left believes in reliance on the state. His moral values are shaped by religion (Catholicism); the left is frightened by religious Christian politicians (and athletes, and members of the armed forces, and talk show hosts, and, for that matter, clergy). He believes in individualism; the left believes in collectivism. He believes in small government and powerful citizens; the left believes in large government and dependent citizens.

Nevertheless, the Democratic Party claims to be overjoyed at his selection as the Republican vice-presidential nominee.

The Democrats’ glee — even if exaggerated — emanates from their belief that Americans will reject Ryan’s economic and social plans to reduce the American debt, unleash private economic growth (the only type there is), and reform unsustainable government programs such as Medicare.

Democrats believe that if Americans perceive that their entitlements may be affected — even if only beginning a decade from now, and even if the American debt is thereby cut by one third, and even if they, as well as the country, will ultimately benefit — so many Americans have become so used to government benefits, the Republicans stand little chance of winning the upcoming elections.

In other words, and tragically, the left and Democrats are relying on the decline of the American character that left-wing policies have produced (not only here but in Latin America, Europe, and everywhere else). The Democrats are hoping that older Americans are (irrationally) frightened by Medicare reform even though these reforms will not affect them, and that younger Americans will likewise reject these reforms because they are counting on receiving Medicare as it now exists.

Left-wing social policies are predicated on giving more and more Americans more and more benefits and demanding less and less from them.

The left’s party, the Democratic Party, seeks to have the state pay for Americans’ health care, give record numbers of Americans food stamps (now in a form similar to ATM and credit cards so that no stigma be involved), provide their children with school meals and provide women with child care and contraceptives, while enabling more and more Americans to pay no federal taxes to pay for any of these benefits.

The negative impact these policies have had on the character of Americans is indisputable. Every parent — and probably most adults who are not parents — knows what giving things they have not earned and demanding nothing from them in return produces: spoiled children.

Left-wing, Democratic Party policies have negatively impacted the American character in another way. Whenever possible, the left and the Democrats have de-stigmatized irresponsible behavior.

One example is women who give birth to and raise children without fathers in their children’s lives. This past Sunday’s New York Times opinion section featured another attack on those who stigmatize out of wedlock birth and single motherhood.

Another example is the cultural left’s glorification of graffiti — once regarded as vandalism of public and private property — as “street art.”

A third example is how difficult the Democratic Party and the left-wing education establishment have made it for teachers and principals to discipline disruptive and foul-mouthed students. The Department of Education has just declared education the “civil rights” issue of our generation” because black students are disproportionately suspended and otherwise punished by school officials. The effect? Black young people who abuse their teachers and schools feel empowered to continue their anti-social behavior.

At the same time, the left works to weaken the single most effective device for character building in American history: Judeo-Christian religions. Increasingly, the American motto “In God We Trust” has been replaced by “In Government We Trust” and “In Experts We Trust.”

Since the Democrats could not win any national election with the votes of liberals alone — according to Gallup, self-described liberals constitute just 21 percent of the electorate — the great question of the 2012 American presidential election is this: Have the left and Democratic Party sufficiently weakened the character of enough Americans to enable the demonization of Paul Ryan to lead Barack Obama to victory?

I don’t believe so. But given the enormity of the national debt incurred by this administration, its spectacular failure to improve the nation’s economy, and its commitment to weakening American defense, if there were a better explanation for a Democratic victory, I would welcome it.

  • George – CPA

    Paul Ryan is a joke – another spoiled rotten little punk
    born into a very wealthy family.  I bet he screwed many coeds while at
    Miami College, while he was working out 4 hours a day, like he does in the
    House of Representatives when he should be working – another two-faced Christian
    liar.  His whole family was born into wealth.  As God and Jesus said, the wealthy will not inherited
    the Kingdom of God.

     

    He is a disgrace to the 21st century.  I total right
    wing reactionary AH, who wants woman barefoot and pregnant.   This bum is
    a disgrace to reality.

     

    =============================’

     

    I can’t find any information on whether Bernard Richard
    Goldberg was also born into wealth with the proverbial silver spoon in his
    mouth too?  Is Bernard like that big AH John F. Stossel who is an
    idiot born with that silver spoon in his mouth and a liar, distorter of the
    truth – just like Bernard Richard Goldberg twists the truth.  Pathetic
    lying AH’s.

     

     

    Why Paul Ryan, Governor Romney, Stossel, and Bernard forget
    are these famous words:

     

    President Abraham Lincoln, the Illinois Rail-Splitter, told
    his audiences that,

     

    “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital.  Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could
    never have existed if labor had not first existed.  Labor is the superior of capital, and
    deserves much higher consideration.” 1861

     

     

    And,
    =================================================================

     

    Benjamin Franklin to Robert Morris

    25 Dec. 1783Writings
    9:138

    The Remissness (negligent, careless, or slow in performing
    one’s duty) of our People in Paying Taxes is highly blamable; the
    Unwillingness to pay them is still more so. I see, in some Resolutions of Town
    Meetings, a Remonstrance (a protect) against giving Congress a Power to take,
    as they call it, the People’s Money out of their Pockets, tho’ only to pay the
    Interest and Principal of Debts duly contracted. They seem to mistake the
    Point. Money, justly due from the People, is their Creditors’ Money, and no
    longer the Money of the People, who, if they withhold it, should be compelled
    to pay by some Law.

     

    All Property, indeed, except the Savage’s temporary Cabin,
    his Bow, his Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions, absolutely necessary for
    his Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence the
    Public has the Right of Regulating Descents (inheritance), and all other
    Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and the Uses of it.
    All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the
    Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none
    can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous (being more than is sufficient or
    required; excessive; possessing or spending more than enough or necessary;
    extravagant) to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by
    their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it,
    whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does
    not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages.
    He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club
    towards the Support of it.

     

     

     

    So all you wealthy 1%, get ready to pay and pay your fair
    share, the working class and poor will no longer stand for your bullshit!

     

    • wally

      I am surprised that you , George, provide us with a saying from Christ on one hand and then state such vile comments on the other hand. Christ stated that you should love your neighbor but obviously you didn’t learn that and you sure do not practice it. The entire world is in a recession but you want to place the blame on republicans only. It appears that you believe that redistributing wealth is the best for the world. Take heart, you are not alone. There are many like you that haven’t learned the lesson of socialism. The early settlers to this country learned quickly that socialism didn’t work. They solved it by adopting individual ownership and profit which has worked for approximately 400 years.  Tell me do you practice what you preach? Do you divide all your income with your neighbors, friends and people you do not know? Do you give to republicans? That is what you are advocating. Or are you like many other liberals and socialists that redistribution is only for the other guy?

  • Larry Linn

    There’s really just one deep problem at the root of Prager’s problems here.
    It affects a lot of righties, but maybe none more than Prager. When you can’t
    conceptualize any concept as being more complicated than two distinct,
    black-and-white, binary choices, you can’t really have intelligent thought.

  • sjangers

    Sorry about the additional comment here. Editing issues.

  • gregsgaz

    The Democrats must believe that the culture of American has changed in their favor to such an extent – that they have gain a solid voting block much like they have with public sector unions.

    As Robert Bork suggests in his book, we are truly “Slouching Towards Gomorrah” – in my mind only a radical change in November will put us all back on the right path.

  • JohnInMA

    It is evident to any observer, even casual, that the current Democrat party thinks that they will maintain power by continuing to offer top down, DC managed solutions for every possible problem they may experience.  Sadly, in my view, this is not 100% unique to the current party, but has been evolving over time through all administrations.  It’s a little disingenuous to suggest it is ONLY due to Democrats and their policies, at least in time.  The difference to me is one party is sticking to their guns and demonizing anyone who resists that role for government.  The other has accepted the will of some of the people who realize it is time to stop impeding the swing of the pendulum back to a more responsible and manageable point.  That will was evident in 2010 and still shows its thrust in many primary and other elections since.  The November election either will demonstrate once and for all that electoral success depends on a reversion to more moderate principles or that the aggressive attacks on those individuals and groups who favor the reduction in DC’s role in life have worked.

    For many who are neither committed liberals nor conservatives but more libertarian or “independent”, the social issues boil down to this – just don’t give the federal government the role of defining and enabling.   Some of us hear the words of Prager and others of his viewpoint and simply see the same but to produce opposite outcomes.  In other words, they also seem to want to use the federal government and laws to change culture.

    • GreenMarine

      Only 39% percent of the electorate voted in 2010…

      I agree though that this election is particularly interesting. 

  • GreenMarine

    All those empty words when all we really want to know about the Ryan Plan is:

    Why must seniors sacrifice their Medicare, while guys like Willard receive tax breaks for dancing horses?

    • JohnInMA

      Are you jealous of people who can afford horses?

      If you were to stop at the line and not cross into class warfare, you might find you would get a large amount of agreement about the dysfunctional tax code.  But since you instead come across as resentful, clear thinking people will likely ignore you.

      What is your opinion about Medicare under the Affordable Health Care Act?  Is that all good to you, just because it didn’t come from a single GOP vote?

      Partisans only seem to want to speak to partisans.  You rarely convince those of us who are not firmly in either camp.

    • Michael

      If anyone receives a tax break, it’s because the tax code allows it.  Anyone who doesn’t take advantage of the breaks allowed by the tax code is an idiot, and not smart enough to manage our national budget.

      Blaming successful people makes losers feel better about themselves, but it doesn’t help the country.   

    • TheGoodDoctor

      GreenMarine ought to more closely look at the Obama and Ryan plans to discern who is taking what away from seniors: I am one and, believe me, the dangers of going in the rut being plowed by Obama does not lead to more crops but a flood of excrement none of us want to eat.

  • jimzien

    Marvelously circular argument grounded in blame of evil others (liberals, Democrats, government, experts) for loss of “character” by righteous but overpowered weaklings (Christians, athletes, soldiers, talk show hosts). So much for self reliance and individual responsibility in the face of adversity. Must be fluoridation of the victims’ water.

    • sjangers

      Calling Prager’s argument circular because you insist that it is circular is a bit of a, well, circular argument, jimzien. 

      Self-reliance doesn’t mean you will always succeed.  And sometimes your failure is influenced by outside forces.  Decades, and now generations, of insistence by political figures of a certain stripe that ‘evil others’ are preventing me from getting everything I want; that I deserve everything I want; that I’m entitled to it- heck, it’s even my right to have it- can weaken the character and self-reliance of all but the most resolute. 

      Most of us have the capacity to be successful on our own.  Most of us have the ability to achieve many of our dreams.  But if we’re constantly exposed to a siren song telling us that we can have those things without the risk and effort, some of us want to believe it could be that simple (think “there’s a sucker born every minute”). 

      This sort of struggle has been a part of human nature for at least as long as history has been recorded.  I don’t know how you missed that in school.

      • jimzien

        If I correctly understand this valiant effort to square the circle on irresistible liberal influence, it proposes a kind of wearing-down-of-the-will of even the most morally hardy, confronted by the character-weakening, self reliance-destroying allure of America’s  Sirens of entitlement. 

        However the second to last sentence defeats the project, positing that “this sort of struggle has been a part of human nature for at least as long as history has been recorded” (and biblically-speaking, most likely longer). If that’s the case, then why bother fighting it at all? The Ayn Rand school of thought so influential in the education of Messrs. Ryan and Romney wouldn’t. As Rand writes in “Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World” –

        “Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal.”

        • sjangers

          We’re getting kinda philosophical here, jimzien, and I think a little off track from your original criticism of Prager’s column and my response, but I would say that we each have different reasons for resisting internal and external influences encouraging abnegation of personal responsibility.

          I do it because I believe it helps define who I am. When I look back at the end of my life I hope I can be satisfied that I always did my best to take responsibility for my own actions and did whatever was in my ability to correct errors I made and redress wrongs. This is the person I’ve chosen to be. Hopefully I’ve been successful in that intent, and I believe that adhering to that philosophy allows me to justify my being.

          It’s a course I follow because I believe it to be the highest and best way for a person to live their life; for a person to give more than they take, to the best of their ability, during the course of their existence. To take the opposite course, to take more than I give, if followed by all people, would leave us with less than we had when we started. Eventually we would all have nothing. Existing to destroy hardly seems a reasonable justification for living. And choosing to contribute, rather than doing so because of coercion, is a an act of reason. It helps to differentiate my existence from others.

          That philosophy doesn’t necessarily translate well into politics, but the corollary is that government, at the very least, should not discourage people from seeking to be independent and self-reliant. If government can’t do good in this regard, it also should do no harm.

          I think that leaves us well off course of our original discussion, but perhaps still informs that debate. And perhaps it’s a sufficient response to dragging Ayn Rand into the conversation. I’m not among her acolytes. Nor, I believe, is Congressman Ryan, although I have no idea about Governor Romney’s appreciation for Rand’s philosophy. But I’m sure he’ll speak for himself if it matters.

          I hope that response was helpful. If not, let me know and I’ll try to do better. And please feel free to continue the discussion. Exchanging ideas is always enjoyable. As that sage, Martha Stewart, is fond of observing, it’s a good thing.

          • jimzien

            On a personal level, I can agree with pretty much everything you say here (except Mr. Ryan’s not being in thrall to Ayn Rand – he has proclaimed his affinity for her writings publicly, on many occasions.) 

            Nevertheless, I believe that “government” — which is to say the administrative infrastructure of the commonweal, aka the public good – can play a purposeful, positive role in alleviating poverty by supporting citizens in its grip to achieve at least self-sufficiency; even better, to join the politically-vaunted middle class. 

            That movement up is, in fact, essential to the preservation and enhancement of the public good, economic recovery and growth. I believe most people possess the desire and the “character” to participate in it.  

          • sjangers

            And I can agree, at least to a degree, with all you say here, jimzien.  Where you and I part ways, I believe, is where the rubber hits the road, or where the theory becomes practice.

            First, a minor point, is Paul Ryan’s attachment to Ayn Rand’s philosophy.  He has said in the past that her writing had a great influence on the development of his interest in public policy and helped him develop his personal value system.  He hasn’t said that he adopted her philosophy, only that it heavily influenced the development of his own.  He has also said, in recent years, that he is not a devotee of Rand.  That doesn’t necessarily conflict with previous statements about her influence on him.  His legislative record tends to support an interpretation in which Rand’s philosophy influenced Ryan but did not bind him.

            Second, a little bit about my personal background might help clarify where I’m coming from.  My earliest passions, aside from baseball, were for history and politics.  I majored in political science in college.  I then spent about ten years working in the private sector, helping to manage businesses and then running my own small business.  After that, I spent sixteen years working in human service, with private not-for-profits, primarily in fields related to mental health, including a lot of direct customer service.  And now I’m a relatively unemployed would-be writer.  In my lifetime I’ve had a fair amount of experience looking at public policy issues from a variety of
            perspectives, although without ever becoming directly involved in the process of making policy or overseeing implementation.

            To summarize all of that experience, as it relates to our current discussion, I would say that I fully agree with your statement regarding
            government’s potential for good as it relates to individual economic issues.  I’ve seen it in practice.  Some of the people I worked with in human services may not have survived, let alone got a little bit ahead, without the support of government programs.  I wouldn’t disparage the potential for government to serve a positive role in the lives of citizens.

            But I’ve also seen how wasteful government assistance can be in practice.  This holds true in the way it delivers support, in the varieties of support that are offered, and in how government determines compliance and assesses outcomes.  I’ve remarked on more than one occasion, and I don’t offer this assessment facetiously, that we could have provided a human service system in my state that would have done all the intended good of the existing programs at no more than half the cost. 

            And that only takes into consideration the dollar costs of running those programs every year.  There is also a cost in human potential.  Because for every person who gets ahead because of government assistance, there are dozens of people being held back.  Much of the negative impact is unintentional.  Most programs are developed and directed by people who have little or no recent direct field experience. They really don’t understand the needs of their target populations. But they determine how to provide the support, they write the regulations, implement processes, and decide how outcomes will be measured.  This creates processes that often have very little relevance to the people being helped, leads to disconnect, and eventually will encourage many good people to stop trying to get ahead on their own and focus their efforts on doing whatever is necessary to keep their government supports in place.

            Of greater malevolence is the tendency of some in politics to use the power of government to maintain their personal position.  This leads to blatantly poor public policy which, nonetheless, binds specific interest groups to politicians and parties.  This holds true for both political parties and philosophical extremes.  In the absence of a clear and paramount need, when government becomes directly involved in choosing winners and losers, instead of working to keep the environment secure so each of us can succeed to the best of our ability, it usually makes
            marginal losers of most of us.  When government assistance leads to dependency, whether by design or otherwise, and diminishes individual efforts toward personal achievement, it takes from all of us.  This, as I understand it, is what Prager decries; although he does appear to focus more on one side of the
            political equation than the other.

            Based on my understanding of what he wrote, and on my own personal experience, I tend to agree with Prager.  Government, for the all good it has done and the potential to do more good that still exists, is being used by career
            politicians to feather their own nests while, at the same time, often weakening the society they should be protecting. 

            Informed voters need to change the direction in which our government is headed.  Hopefully we can do this without any kneejerk reaction that throws the baby out with the bath water.  Because, as you say, government does have an
            important role to play in supporting the weakest among us and in establishing a foundation on which we all can build the future of our dreams.  But we won’t get to that future if we don’t recognize that government has become too large and intrusive in our present
            society. 

            We need to take a hard look at what we want from our government, figure out where it is satisfying those needs and where it has become counterproductive, and then insist on changes that reflect what we really need, not what self-serving politicians tell us we need.  We need to take responsibility for determining the path we will take.  If we allow someone else to make that choice for us, we will probably get where they want to go but there are no guarantees that any of the rest of us will be going anywhere worthwhile.