The Ripon Forum

Volume 44, No. 3

Summer 2010 Issue

After the Revolution

By on October 23, 2014

There’s an old joke about Russia before the Soviet Union. A Communist party leader brags to a peasant, “After the Revolution, everyone will have strawberries.” The peasant replies, “But I don’t like strawberries.” The party leader answers, “After the Revolution, everyone will like strawberries.”

In the last election, President Obama promised a revolution of hope and change. But as the American people have seen what his ideas mean in practice, many have found that they’re getting a lot of things for which they hadn’t bargained. They have learned that change isn’t always for the better. Sometimes it is a return to the failed policies and discredited ideas of the past.

As more and more Americans express their dissatisfaction, the response from this White House has been to continue full speed ahead, while explaining that the people simply don’t know what’s best for them.

President Obama promised a revolution of hope and change. But as the American people have seen what his ideas mean in practice, many have found that they’re getting a lot of things for which they hadn’t bargained.

In my home state of South Dakota and around the country, I hear over and over again that people are anxious and uncertain about the path our country is on, and where the Obama administration might try to take us next. They see out of control spending and huge amounts of debt being racked up. They see the government not just chipping away at their liberty, but grabbing huge chunks of it.

The first red flag was the $862 billion dollar “stimulus” bill the President signed when he had been in office for less than a month. It was sold as emergency spending that would keep our economy from tanking and hold unemployment to eight percent. But today unemployment continues to hover around 10 percent, and our national debt is a staggering $13 trillion.

Next came the government takeover of health care, which will spend $2.5 trillion in the first decade it is fully in effect. And after all the hype, it turns out that many of the solutions the bill offered were too good to be true. The law is likely to cost hundreds of billions of dollars more than originally estimated. Millions of people will remain uninsured, despite a new government mandate that they buy coverage. Millions more will lose the coverage they have and like. Overall spending on health care will go up faster than it would have if we had done nothing at all.

Most recently, Democrats turned to regulating the financial services industry. In a masterpiece of missed opportunities, their plan failed to address the real causes of the financial crisis and did little or nothing to prevent another crisis. What they did manage to do was increase costs for Main Street banks and consumers while creating at least 17 new federal offices, agencies, units and boards, including the flawed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This new bureau will have a say in almost every aspect of American business, yet is insulated from any oversight and armed with an enormous budget. Far from reform, the law was little more than a jobs bill for regulators, lawyers and lobbyists.

Labor union giveaways; the political slush fund known as TARP; a job-killing cap-and- trade plan to control energy production from Washington, D.C.; Cash for Clunkers… the list goes on and on. In the past year and a half, we have witnessed a level of government involvement in the private sector that this country has not seen since Truman tried to take over the steel mills and Nixon froze wages and prices.

On every policy issue they have faced, the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress have had a choice between more freedom or more government. Time after time, on issue after issue, they have chosen the path that is farther to the left – more government over more freedom.

On every policy issue they have faced, the Obama administration and the Democrats … have chosen the path that is farther to the left – more government over more freedom.

That top-down, command-and-control approach may be efficient in theory. But that’s not the approach that made this country prosper, and it’s not the best way for us to overcome our current challenges.

The American people wanted change. Unfortunately, they now have a President who has become the de facto CEO of large chunks of our economy, with the power to hire and fire executives, set their pay, influence what products should be made, and help decide who wins and who loses. That is a frightening prospect for most Americans, and the sense of buyer’s remorse around the country is palpable.

Many Americans, having seen all of this, are turning away from President Obama in one poll after another. And it is likely they will be turning their backs on a large number of Democrats in the House and Senate this fall.

America has a proud history of reining in our leaders before they carry us over the cliff. We need to pull up on the reins one more time and get our country back on the right path again.

U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD) serves as Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

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