In 2008 Obama mesmerized crowds promising to bring hope and change. But his hope and change was superficial, and often undefined. Ryan, in contrast, embodies real hope and change. Unlike Obama, he’s not a Tony Robbins of politics, a self-help barker telling Americans, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
Ryan offers specifics: a change in the way our entitlements are structured and the way we view government. And the hope embedded in this change is that America will be able to thrive, economically and internationally.
Yes, within Ryan’s proposal for change is the promise that the American Age doesn’t have to die, that Pax Americana is not yet over, that there is no reason the 21st century can’t be like the 20th century, another prosperous American century.
But in order for it to be so, we have to make some choices — choices that look difficult, but shouldn’t be.
Option one is President Obama’s path of irresponsibility. Along this path, all the government goodies will remain, but only temporarily. Ultimately it leads to destruction, the crash and burn of our economic system and the transformation of America into a far lesser version of the America we have come to know and love.
The other option is the Ryan path, whether his precise plan or some variation of it. His path faces our fiscal problems head-on, changes our course and gives us the opportunity to thrive. That path doesn’t end Medicare and Social Security, as the Democrats will demagogue; it reforms them and, yes, cuts back some of the giveaways. But without such reform, the giveaways go away anyway. It’s just a matter of when.
Until Ryan joined the ticket, the presidential campaign was rather unexciting. In one corner was President Obama, who had not put on paper a plan to face our great and foreseeable fiscal calamity during his three-plus years in the White House. In the other corner was Mitt Romney, who while laudable in many respects, seemed cautious when our moment demands boldness.
But Romney made the choice to go big. We can now have a real election with real differences and real choices. But it is up to Team Obama to embrace the seriousness of the moment and to accept the challenge to debate, not demagogue. Let us hope they do so.