- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday in Tampa, “I don’t want my children and grandchildren to have to read in a history book what it was like to live in an American century.” This is an accurate summary of the stakes of the 2012 election. Voters in November won’t simply determine who will lead the country for the next four years. It is a choice between two fundamentally different future countries.

The vision being presented by the speakers at the Republican National Convention in Tampa is traditionally American, of an opportunity society in which hard work and success are rewarded, not punished. It’s a country in which economic growth is based on the efforts of millions of individuals unhampered by countless, minute and maddening government controls. The slogan “We built this” is more than just a dig at Barack Obama’s infamous gaffe; it’s a true reflection of the spirit that transformed the United States from a sleepy wilderness to the greatest economic power in human history.

This is in contrast to the revolutionary agenda being implemented by the Obama administration of an economy controlled and directed by Washington. It’s a country in which bureaucrats in every federal department seek new ways to deepen and expand their influence on the everyday lives of citizens. It’s an entitlement society in which there is no shame in going on the public dole. To the White House, having record numbers of people on food stamps isn’t an alarming indicant of an economy that’s severely off track but a point of pride for a president who touts it as proof that he cares.

This election is about the nature of citizenship. Republicans seek to reform the immigration system to allow people to earn the right to become Americans by demonstrating loyalty to the nation and willingness to contribute to the common good. President Obama has made it easier for illegal aliens to enter the country, hampered state efforts to block them, extended unprecedented access to public assistance and encouraged border jumpers by calling them Americans “in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”

National identity and the nature of the individual are on the line. In Mr. Obama’s America, making judgments based on the color of a person’s skin is seen as evidence of character. Conservatives want to unite Americans behind a common vision of equal opportunity, but the liberal power base sustains itself through promoting social divisions based on race, class, sex, sexual preference and religion. Where Republicans see cooperative communities, Democrats promote tribal conflicts.

In foreign affairs, the difference is between a United States that reasserts its global leadership role or continues a slow decline into second-class status. The Obama administration accepts a false moral parity between America and the rest of the world. It wrongly seeks to level the playing field between allies like Israel and states pledged to its destruction. Mr. Obama promotes the fortunes of extremist Islamist parties while steadfastly denying they present a clear and present danger to stability in the Middle East. Unilateral U.S. nuclear disarmament is seen as an unqualified good while adversaries modernize their arsenals and rogue states seek nuclear status. The choice is between leading from the front and leading from behind, between standing by friends instead of bowing to competitors.

No election in modern times has presented so stark a choice. This will be the year that will determine whether people can speak of American greatness in the future tense or only as a faded moment from the past.

The Washington Times