Continued from page 1

While we have strong ties that bind us all together, we are a nation of individuals, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.

Each of us has our own needs, and our elected officials must recognize that top-down, cookie-cutter solutions simply will not work. Ultimately, they increase costs and decrease freedom of choice.

If such solutions will not work, we must offer ones that will. Every day the American people are unaware of alternative ideas is a day that Obamacare’s roots grow deeper and more permanent.

In direct contrast to the approach of “we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it,” which gave us more than 2,700 pages of regulation and confusion, we will work this year to rally the country in a gradual, step-by-step way around a series of positive proposals that people can understand. We will move forward in such a way because I believe that ideas matter.

I can’t begin to thank all the people who have sent excellent ideas on health care reform.

Those of us who think we can do better than Obamacare cannot hope to win national elections, let alone win a massive policy fight, if we don’t first win the argument. The argument over the right path forward for the American health care system is a big argument to win.

I fully expect that as we seek to reform major institutions, I will be attacked by those who disagree. Critics will undoubtedly try to pigeonhole this effort as just another attack on President Obama and his signature legislative achievement. However, this is about much more than Obamacare.

It’s about helping to ensure that Americans of every background have the opportunity to live a longer, happier and more independent life with more freedom and more choice.

The American people are currently witnessing the failure of centralized government to deliver affordable, quality health care and there is no better time than this to consider better alternatives.

This is a massive undertaking and it will be very tough, but when I look into the eyes of someone such as T.J. in Missouri, I know there are much tougher things to confront in this world.

I also know that if we have courage, there is hope for a better future.

Ben S. Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University.