From “Ask not What Your Country Can do for You” to “Give Me Free Stuff”
In a number of recent posts, Ron Paul has shared a series of JFK quotes with his considerable social media following. Taken together in their greater context, Paul appears to be making an interesting point: suggesting that JFK was, perhaps, the most akin to a “libertarian” of any president in the post-war era.
Consider Kennedy’s quote on the intelligence agency, “I want to splinter the CIA into a million pieces and scatter it to the winds.”
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Kennedy was skeptical of the nation’s intelligence community, and its military-industrial complex, extremely wary of being drawn into a war in Vietnam, even as key pieces of the Washington establishment pushed him to do so.
Kennedy remains one of the nation’s most enduringly popular presidents; a man whose oratory stirred the world, and whose new vision for America was often thwarted by both parties, who remained intent upon maintaining the status quo. Kennedy also had a remarkable ability to cut to the heart of the matter, coining phrases that will live on for centuries to come.
Yet, when Kennedy’s rhetoric is juxtaposed with that of today’s leading Democrats, the results are almost comical. Consider what is perhaps his most famous quote, taken from his 1961 Inaugural Address:
“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
The words are as timeless today as they were 56 years ago, and they directly address one of the greatest ideological and philosophical problems that encumbers the Democratic Party today: their relentless belief in increased government spending as the answer to all of society’s pressing problems.
With the rise of the social justice warriors and their enthusiasm for big government socialism, it appears few Democrats would dare to question the merits of offering anything and everything “for free”: free housing, free healthcare, free education, free food, free daycare, free transportation, the list goes on and on. And with the rise of a new activist base, comes a whole new set of dubious “rights”…enshrined in the Constitution. Enshrined in the Constitution?
To put it mildly, the Founders and the Framers, would be rolling over in their graves to see that one of America’s two political parties has now largely claimed a series of non-existent rights, and even used the Constitution as a pretext. To put it succinctly, there is nothing in the Constitution, and its lengthy history of interpretation, to suggest that the social contract between the American government and its people guarantees the right to healthcare or education or food.
But don’t tell that to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The reality is that they could care less what the Constitution has to say…their concern is accumulating more and more money and power in Washington, taken from hardworking taxpayers, so that they and their big government socialist pals can tell rank and file Americans what to do with their lives, homes, businesses, and land.
To listen to Sanders and Warren, you’d think that we were a nation where the poor, sick, and elderly were left to die on the streets. Nothing could be further from the truth. We spend an astounding amount of money on social programs: to the tune of a trillion dollars a year. When LBJ started the so-called “War on Poverty”, the nation’s poverty rate was at 19%. Today, two generations later, it is nearly the same.
And so, today, two generations later in the Democratic Party, we have evolved from “ask not what your country can do for you” to “ask my country where is all my free stuff.”
Last year a self-described socialist received nearly half of the votes in the Democratic primaries. It was eminently clear that he had the support of the party base and activists. Had it not been for the shenanigans of the supposedly neutral DNC to thwart Bernie’s candidacy, while actively promoting Clinton’s behind the scenes, Bernie might have won the nomination.
That should be a sufficiently frightening prospect to compel us to carefully scrutinize Bernie’s policy provisions. What would America look like under the democratic socialism of Bernie Sanders?
For one thing, Bernie appears to have access to a magical tree that grows one trillion dollar bills, somewhere on the White House grounds. He apparently is either unaware, or unconcerned, with the fact that we are $20 trillion dollars in debt, and growing, thanks to the ruinous legacy inherited after 16 years of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Here is the most important lesson that Bernie Sanders needs to learn: the government is not responsible for taking care of people; people are responsible for taking care of themselves. The United States was not founded upon the principles of socialism and collectivism; rather it was founded upon the principles of entrepreneurship and individualism.
No matter how much the government spends on a whole host of activities where it has no business being involved in the first place, the Sanders and Warrens of the world will claim that it is still not enough. Now, they have led the way in deluding a generation of young people to heed the socialist call: demand your non-existent Constitutional rights to an endless supply of “free stuff” and spend trillions of dollars that we don’t have…and everything will just work itself out in the end.
It is time for a generation of Americans to rise up and ask “what can I do for my country?” Not “the reason I have problems as an individual is because the government didn’t give me enough free stuff.”