Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

What does this phrase, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" mean to you? And, how is our government supposed to support those ideals for American citizens? Most political arguments go back to this very question.

Is it about keeping America the force to be reckoned with around the world? Is it about keeping us safe? Is it about ensuring that every citizen gets equal opportunites and benefits?

In the past couple of days, some interesting thoughts have surfaced. One from a Wall Street Journal Opinion article titled, What Independent Voters Want by John P. Avlon, and the other is from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's Wriston Lecture to the Manhattan Institute last week as printed in the Wall Street Journal.

Here's what Avlon has to say about Independent voters.

"Independent voters, once a political afterthought, are now the largest and fastest-growing segment of the American electorate. ...

In fact, the movement has a coherent set of underlying beliefs: Independents tend to be fiscally conservative, socially progressive and strong on national security. They believe in putting patriotism over partisanship and the national interest over special interests. ...

Americans are not deeply divided -- our political parties are -- and the explosive growth of independent voters is a direct reaction to this disconnect."

Unfortunately, no political party has it all. Democrats (liberal) believe in freedom of social choice for our lives. Republicans (conservative) believe in freedom of enterprise. Democrats are seen as the compassionate, fairer people. Republicans are seen as more family oriented and religious. Democrats are seen as more open minded, and Republicans are seen as narrow minded. Democrats seem younger, hipper. Republicans seem older.

But, in this election season, our candidates are pictures of hipocracy. Obama's voting record tows his party line almost 100% of the time, yet he comes across as more open-minded about things. On the other hand, McCain, who's record shows he's acted in a successful bipartisan effort numerous times, seems more narrow-minded about issues.

Obama says the the Rebulicans and Wall Street are perpetuating a self indulgent society, but he's planning to centralize all major entitlement programs to be operated by the government to make sure everyone gets equal healthcare, education, social security and welfare assistance. And, the way he's going to do it is by taxing the wealthy more so that he can give it to those who don't earn as much and may need the help more. How is that not perpetuating the self indulgence of our society? Do the politicians just switch back and forth between who they give benefits to? First it's lenient regulations for Wall Steet, now it's tax rebates for the lower middle class? Why not allow people to work for something - including the Wall Street tycoons?

Justice Thomas states,

"Today, we live in a far different environment. My generation, the self-indulgent "me" generation, has had a profound effect on much around us. Rarely do we hear a message of sacrifice -- unless it is a justification for more taxation and transfers of wealth to others. Nor do we hear from leaders or politicians the message that there is something larger and more important than the government providing for all of our needs and wants -- large and small. The message today seems more like: Ask not what you can do for yourselves or your country, but what your country must do for you."

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is what every American and citizen of this world deserves, but there is a proven fact that without hard work, sacrifice and service, no one can find life, liberty or happiness. How can we bring those things back to America without favoring or suppressing any one group of people to get there?

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