- The Washington Times - Friday, October 7, 2011

In his Columbus Day Proclamation in 1982, President Reagan stated, “Christopher Columbus embodied for us the qualities which we Americans hold dear and which are representative of us as a people: daring, determination, vision and the courage to pursue a dream.” How far we have fallen as a nation since the Gipper uttered these words.

When Reagan extolled American virtue three decades ago, the United States faced an existential foreign threat from Soviet communism and a teetering domestic economy. Between 1977 and 1980, President Carter had responded to these crises by tightening the regulatory stranglehold on private-sector job creators and cowering before the purported inevitability of a bilateral world in which Marxist totalitarianism was assumed to be superior to faith, freedom and capitalism. The moderate Republican establishment wasn’t much better than the left-wingers. It took the courage, determination, vision and daring of one conservative man - Reagan - to turn things around.

Many didn’t believe in this country anymore as the 1970s limped into the 1980s. Sadly, the same can be said today. The Obama presidency can be fairly referred to as Jimmy Carter’s second term for a reason. At the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, the U.S. economy is collapsing due to government excess, and respect for America abroad is low. The uncontrollable federal bureaucracy no longer serves the people but stands over the individual like a brutal master. Rather than take on the leviathan, too many have decided that dependency can be comfortable.

Americans have to learn to be self-sufficient again and demand that new arrivals to this country be the same. As a people, we are generous and accommodating to those in other lands who are oppressed and welcome the huddled masses here with open arms. This system only works if it’s clear to millions of newcomers that they are expected to be productive members of society. That message isn’t being sent in a society where productivity is thwarted by Big Government. Once again, America needs a brave leader to reawaken our belief in ourself.

Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the new book “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, 2011).