Americans have an important choice to make in the presidential election of 2012, but the choice may not be what you think it is. The choice is not between the eventual Republican candidate and President Obama. It’s much bigger than that. What Americans must decide in 2012 is whether they are willing to choose a course that is difficult but right or continue on a course that is easy but wrong.
The difficult but right choice is the course of thrift, diligence, self-discipline, and personal responsibility. This choice—after some hard work and tough times—will lead America back to a position of economic strength and stability. The easy but wrong choice is to continue down the path of entitlement, statism, and nanny government. This choice will lead America farther down the path toward socialism and economic slavery.
President Obama and the left do not want America to view their choice in 2012 in these terms. For liberals, the truth is often uncomfortable and frequently inconvenient—uncomfortable because it is at odds with their cherished presuppositions and inconvenient because it gets in the way of their big-government agenda. Consequently, Barack Obama—with a lot of help from liberal journalists—is portraying himself as the good guy who is just trying to make everything better for Americans who are suffering but is thwarted at every turn by hard-hearted Republicans, all of whom are rich and got that way by exploiting poor people. The president’s strategy of class envy and entitlement is downright irresponsible, but I suppose it is better than trying to run on his record, a record characterized by high unemployment, monumental debt, and a loss of prestige on the global stage. The president’s strategy presents Republicans with a real dilemma because telling Americans who are suffering because of a bad economy, bad luck, or even bad choices that they are victims of the wealthy and that the government will take care of them is an easy sell. This is the bill of goods Obama is selling to voters. But try telling them that better times will be achieved only through thrift, diligence, self-discipline, hard work, and personal responsibility and see what happens.
As hard a sell as it is, this is the message that Republicans must take to the electorate in 2012. You may have had the experience of trying to convince someone of the need to take the difficult but right course in life. Certainly, anyone who has ever raised, taught, or coached children can tell you that convincing them that the hard way is often the best way is a challenge. Voters react to this message in the same way that children react to it. They don’t want to hear it. The challenge for Republicans in 2012 is the same kind of challenge that parents, teachers, and coaches face every day. It is not enough to just tell voters about the difficult but right path to take. The eventual Republican candidate will have to be able to lead them to it and convince them to take it.