Tuesday’s election may seem typical on the outside, but Jeffrey Lord with the American Spectator believes there is much more on the ballot this year than your typical aspirant for city council or the U.S. senate. Lord views this election as a climactic affirmation of our core values. And he predicts Wednesday morning will not only dawn over a new slate of representatives, but the peoples’ decision whether to preserve Ronald Reagan’s America — the shining city on a hill — or let it go forever.
Ronald Reagan saw America as a “shining city upon a hill.” It was beyond foolish for Obama and Democrats to dismiss this as some sort of old news — irrelevant, hokey, out of date. To dismiss Reagan and his vision is to totally misread America, its culture, and exactly how Americans see both their country and themselves. And more to the point, how Americans have seen themselves right from the moment the first Pilgrims stepped off the boat at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620.
The imagery of the “shining city upon a hill” in American history is a phrase Reagan used all his political life, the phrase coming from John Winthrop, the early Puritan governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Winthrop in turn took his version of the shining city on a hill from Matthew 5:14, the Sermon on the Mount; “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”
The Founders’ knew about Wednesday morning’s referendum. They knew that future Americans would face choices between the likes of Reagan and the likes of Barack Obama. As Winthrop’s ideological heirs, they were students of world history and human nature. That’s why they agonized over America’s blueprint, interweaving it with traps to thwart future leaders they knew would try to advance their own glorification over individual freedom – and in so doing they fulfilled Winthrop’s prophecy by cultivating a liberty that still radiates throughout the world.
Winthrop’s vision is the founding expression of what is now called American exceptionalism. A nation made possible by the idea of freedom as later enshrined in the founding documents of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. A nation that is endlessly capable of creating a vibrant future for its citizens in a free society based on a clear understanding of the experience of the past. Reagan’s America, the America that he and millions of others saw throughout four centuries as the Shining City Upon a Hill, is brought to life by free men and women in a colorblind society who believe there are no bounds to the human spirit and what it can accomplish. Reagan believed to his core that an American’s rights and opportunities come always not from the generosity of the state but the hand of God. He was neither shy nor embarrassed about saying so, either.
Lord introduces the reciprocal of Reagan and Winthrop in the persons of Obama and Marx, and he believes that Tuesday offers voters an unprecedented opportunity to re-affirm America’s most enduring traditions against gift-bearing liberty thieves.
Barack Obama believes something quite different. As millions of Americans now understand, the effective results of this latest detour to socialism and statism is a trip to the usual disaster. Every major Obama initiative from Obamanomics to ObamaCare is inevitably attempting to transform America just as Obama promised: taking the prosperous America Ronald Reagan saw as The Shining City Upon a Hill and turning it into a Society of Beggars. Sending Americans begging — literally. Turning Reagan’s “Morning in America” into what Rush Limbaugh has termed Obama’s endless Dark Night of the Soup Kitchen. All of this based on the idea that building the American economy (or for that matter any economy), as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said, must be done based on the philosophy that “the biggest bang for the buck [comes] when you do food stamps and unemployment insurance — the biggest bang for the buck.”
That’s why we are facing so much more than a mundane off-year election. This is a pivotal moment in our history — a status check on the health of our freedom. We will find out whether Winthrop and Reagan’s Shining City on a Hill still exists, or whether we have already stepped off the precipice into a future of darkness.
Will Americans allow themselves to be forced permanently into an Obama-style Society of Beggars, dooming their children and themselves to a lock-step march into a vast, dreadfully gray Kafka-esque maze of statist bureaucracy to beg and beg again? For everything?
Or will Americans simply refuse? Rebelling against the dismal future of government enforced scarcity, poverty, massive debt and timid obedience accompanied by a healthy dose of state-sponsored intimidation that is the hallmark of all Obama-style visions throughout history?
Will they demand Obama and the powerful, thuggish special interest groups who serve as his ideological Brownshirts stand aside and halt the process of nailing shut the gates to Reagan’s Shining City Upon a Hill, denying access to the historic America ideal envisioned at the nation’s founding? An America President Obama appears to regard with such open contempt? Will they refuse to be force-marched from an America where individual rights are seen as those coming from the hand of God — not selectively doled out to the politically well-heeled by a well-paid bureaucrat who is a dues-paying member of AFSCME or the SEIU?
Will they insist on returning to an understanding of exactly why the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were written the way they were — because the founders understood all too well the fallibility of human beings wielding government power? Whether those human beings were named King George — or Barack Obama?
Twice in my life, I have stared into the abyss and truly wondered if it was too late, that we had recklessly squandered the priceless gift that our ancestors paid so dearly to preserve for us. The first time was on September 11, 2001, when in the midst of the shock and horror, I truly wondered if God had turned His back on us. It soon became clear that He had not. The second time was November 4, 2008, when the American people freely chose a radical leftist — the close friend and long-term protégé of Reverend Jeremiah Wright — to lead our nation. For a time I wondered if America was no longer populated with the caliber of freedom-loving patriots required for her preservation. I was reassured by the emergence of the Tea Party that America is still defined by rugged self-reliance and love of liberty and was once again filled with Reagan-like confidence in the American spirit. But Lord reminds us that Reagan never let down his guard and neither should we.
On October 27, 1964, Reagan famously went on national television as a private citizen to deliver a speech in support of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, that year’s Republican presidential nominee. At the time, Barack Obama was barely three years old.
The speech catapulted Reagan to political stardom, his election as governor of California coming two years later. But Reagan’s speech in 1964 is as timeless now as it was when it was delivered. And while Ronald Reagan never met Barack Obama, he has answered him plainly and forcefully by providing a rebuttal not only to the actual Barack Obama who sits momentarily in Reagan’s chair — but all the Barack Obamas yet to come in generations unborn.
The speech, called A Time for Choosing, is preserved by the Reagan Presidential Library.
“You and I,” he concluded his talk, “have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”
A week from today, this latest generation of Americans will come face to face with a choice. A choice that predates both men but is now seen in our time as a fierce battle between Reagan’s Shining City Upon a Hill — or Obama’s Society of Beggars.
It will indeed mark a moment precisely as Ronald Reagan once described it:
A Time for Choosing.