I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Would JFK Be Relevant Today?

Two score and seven years ago, John F. Kennedy delivered his famously quoted inaugural address. His speech contained one of the most historic and memorable phrases in American history. “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” In the four decades since Kennedy spoke those words, the country has indeed gone through many changes, both political and economically. Do Kennedy’s words possess any relevance today? From the rhetoric coming from the majority of presidential candidates, the political parties don’t believe they do

Senator Barack Obama is promising a host of new programs that in essence is nothing more than new entitlement programs in fancy packaging. From healthcare to civil rights to immigration, the senator promises to provide new services to the people. Obama is not alone with his promises. Senator Clinton, the godmother of universal healthcare, is also promising healthcare for all, as well as programs for illegal immigration. Former Senator Edwards has built his campaign on the battle between the classes. These are hardly the plans and rhetoric of Kennedy proportions.

Before my liberal friends begin to completely spin out of control, allow me to point out that the Democrats are not alone with their entitlement campaigns. Former Governors Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are both talking about different versions of government controlled healthcare. Senator John McCain was a leading proponent of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform. I thought that Republicans were supportive of a smaller and less intrusive government.

The politicians are not the sole owners of the blame on this issue. The vast majority of American people have developed an entitlement mentality, a mentality that guides them to expecting the government to give them something for “free”. They expect the government to provide healthcare, corporate bailouts for their companies, exemption from defaulting on their mortgages, and providing services for illegal immigrants to name but a few. I can almost understand that thinking from younger voters, because they have been raised to think the government’s sole responsibility is to dole out “freebies”. What I find unbelievable is the voters that were empowered by listening to Kennedy when he actually delivered his inaugural speech, but now are screaming for their fair share of the government pie. I know the argument well, the argument that says that we live in different times now than when Kennedy was President. I agree, we do live in different times, but the message is still relevant today. We scream and cry about the deficit and the debt, but when it comes to actually cutting programs and spending, the screeching grows louder. Everyone else’s special interest or program is wasteful spending, but my government supplied handout is important.

This mindset has grown and evolved over the nearly 50 years since 1961, so it will not change overnight. It will take at least a generation to transform the entitlement mentality into a mindset of what can we do to help our neighbors and country. I believe there are problems with healthcare and many other issues at stake during this campaign season, but I don’t believe that the government is the solution. Look back over the past 47 years. How many problems have been solved by government intervention? For the most part, government is the problem and not the solution.

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