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In 2008, when Barack Obama was elected, I have to admit I was a bit unsure but also enthusiastic. After all, exhausted with the Bush presidency, how could I not be excited about our first African-American president? John McCain, outstanding American and war hero notwithstanding, was not a leader I could or would rally around anyway. I did not vote in 2008. but once Obama was elected, I was glad in a way for a change and anxious to see what fresh leadership he would bring.
By the 2012 election my naive enthusiasm and excitement was gone. Not because there were still millions unemployed. History has shown time and again a president is limited in how much he can do with the inherent forces that make up economic markets. But what can a president do when faced with economic malaise and recessions? He can inspire vision and confidence and above all unity. In Obama’s first term, where was his FDR "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” speech? Where was/is his Reagan Revolution and his vision of America as a "shining city on a hill" that clamors to wake up and inspire the economic engine of American enterprise and ingenuity embodied in the most persecuted minority of all, the individual?. Where are the inspiring words that promote and encourage each individual to rise to his or her own full potential? Maybe he has said it. But I haven't heard it.
All I hear from this administration and its congressional counterparts is in order for a better, more "safe" America, we need more regulations, more laws and more taxation on the individual. What vision is that for the future?
The heart of our freedom has been to protect the rights of the individual. This has distinguished America over any other democracy in the world. It's this protection that abolished slavery and created civil rights for all Americans. Simply stated, the greater good is the inalienable rights and liberty of each individual.
So with history as a guide to show the many failed examples of the type of statist policies that Obama and his followers want to impose on me as an individual (a minority), I can't help but wonder: What is Obama's vision for America? Is it one that melds the individual into some collective stew espousing redistribution of property, central planning and the greater good being some ill-defined equality for the government to watch over? A vision leaving us left with feeling guilty and ashamed of wanting our individual rights protected. It's now "shameful" for me to want to keep one of my individual rights embodied in the Second Amendment. I am to feel ashamed and guilty because not agreeing with him makes me insensitive to the horrific and tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook.
So unless I am missing the vision, this administration does not seem to be about inspiration and confidence and it's certainly not about unity. Instead, it seems to be: find solutions through policy, mandates, regulations and taxation backed up by the full force of the government. And if I disagree then I should feel guilty, ashamed and probably unAmerican.
Clay M. Keeley lives in Shelbyville.