Hope vs. fear

The election of 2012 will be the most important of our lifetimes, because, at a pivotal moment in American history, it will pit not just two candidates against each other but two vastly different and mutually exclusive visions for the country.

 

It will be a battle of reason vs. emotion. Freedom vs. dependence. Hope vs. fear and envy. Belief in the individual vs. reliance on the collective.

We are coming to a fork in the road, and as Yogi Berra recommended, we will take it. It remains to be seen in which direction we will go.

It’s incumbent upon every voting American to think long and hard about it in the coming year. It can’t be something that most of us ignore until the traditional Labor Day awakening.

If you’re paying attention, you know the intellectual battle has already begun.

The president has used his jobs bill – in truth, a tax-and-spend bill – as an excuse to campaign in swing states at taxpayer expense and lob molotov cocktails toward the opposition party – recently alleging, ludicrously, that Republicans favor “dirtier air, dirtier water, and (fewer) people with health insurance.”

In a calm, reasoned response in what should be a landmark speech this past week at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called the president out for his destructive, divisive, disingenuous hyperbole. Add hypocritical: As Ryan notes, Mr. Obama started his act on the national stage in 2008 with soaring, optimistic rhetoric and poignant criticisms of the failures of entrenched politicians, including their “preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle big problems.” But now, all he seems to do is seek to score cheap political points in an effort to spread fear and divide the country he promised to unite.

“Instead of working together where we agree,” Ryan said, “the president has opted for divisive rhetoric and the broken politics of the past. He is going from town to town, impugning the motives of Republicans, setting up straw men and scapegoats, and engaging in intellectually lazy arguments ...

“Instead of appealing to the hope and optimism that were hallmarks of his first campaign, he has launched his second campaign by preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment. This has the potential to be just as damaging as his misguided policies. Sowing social unrest and class resentment makes America weaker, not stronger.”

How deplorable that our own president is actually sowing unrest.

This is the decision that awaits you next year: Which vision of America will you buy into? In Ryan’s words, “whether we are a nation that still believes in equality of opportunity, or whether we are moving away from that, and towards an insistence on equality of outcome.”

Just who is selling hope and who is hawking fear?

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Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon