One can criticize Ryan’s plan and fault some of its details or assumptions, but at least Ryan has put something on the table, unlike the Democrats, who have not passed a budget in 3 years. Back in February, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admitted that his boss had no plan to solve the debt and deficit problem: “You are right to say we’re not coming before you today to say ‘we have a definitive solution to that long term problem.’ What we do know is, we don’t like yours.” No wonder, then, that the Democrats have smeared Ryan and his plan with outright lies. Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz recycled those distortions by saying of Ryan’s plan, “It suggests that we should end Medicare as we know it, shred the safety net for seniors in health care that we had in place for more than 50 years, turn Medicare into a block grants (sic) and send it to the states, which would really jeopardize seniors in nursing homes, potentially take 10 million students off of Pell Grants, cut health care, cut education.” And it took just a few hours after Ryan was picked as Romney’s V.P. candidate for the notorious Mediscare ad showing Ryan pushing granny off a cliff to resurface, confirming that irrational emotion rather than sober discussion and debate is all the Obamites can appeal to.
The most important consequence of picking Ryan, however, is that it clarifies what the election is really about––reining in an out-of-control federal government that if the current policies continue will bankrupt this country and eat away at our freedom. It focuses the choice between two visions: one that sees the energy, creativity, and autonomy of free individuals as the best way to create prosperity and guarantee our freedom; the other that considers techno-elites in government bureaucracies better able to manage more and more of our affairs.
The critics of democracy have always argued that most people are incapable of choosing wisely, and so they need “guardians,” as Plato put it, to limit and guide their choices, backed by the coercive power of the state. The latter vision has dominated our government for the last several decades, and its wages are evident in the current fiscal implosion of California and the Eurozone. Nor are the reasons for this failure beyond the understanding of most people. The fiscal crisis we face is a simple question of mathematics: lavish social welfare entitlements work until you run out of other people’s money, which is what we are currently doing.
The problem, its causes, and its solution are clear. The only question left is, will enough people rise above their own interests and make a choice for individual autonomy, responsibility, and freedom, or will they confirm the criticisms of the enemies of democracy and vote for dependency, bankruptcy, and “democratic despotism”? Paul Ryan’s candidacy will give us the opportunity to keep that stark choice at the forefront of the coming election.
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