Keeping the Republic
Saving America by Trusting Americans
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Upon leaving the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked what sort of government the delegates had created. His reply to the crowd: "A republic, if you can keep it." Now America's most respected governor explains just how close we've come to losing the republic, and how we can restore it to greatness.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has been called "the most presidential man in America." He has brought more change to his state in a few years than most see in decades.
During his tenure, Daniels turned a $700 million deficit into a billion dollar surplus, balanced Indiana's budget even during the recession, converted its once unattractive business climate into one of the strongest for private sector job growth.
The Hoosier state is now a model of good and efficient governance. Its public sector payroll is now the smallest per capita in the nation. And yet services have improved across the board. Even its Bureau of Motor Vehicles -- the ultimate symbol of dysfunctional bureaucracy - has been rated the best in the country.
Daniels has done this by focusing on government's core responsibilities, cutting taxes, empowering citizens, and performing what he calls an "old tribal ritual" - spending less money than his state takes in, while distinguishing between skepticism towards big government and hostility towards all government.
Unfortunately few politicians have the discipline or courage to follow his lead. And worse, many assume that Americans are too intimidated, gullible or dim-witted to make wise decisions about their health care, mortgages, the education of their kids, and other important issues. The result has been a steady decline in freedom, as elite government experts -- "our benevolent betters", in Daniels' phrase -- try to regulate every aspect of our lives.
Daniels bluntly calls our exploding national debt "a survival-level threat to the America we have known." He shows how our underperforming public schools have produced a workforce unprepared to compete with those of other countries and ignorant of the requirements of citizenship in a free society. He lays out the risk of greatly diminished long term prosperity and the loss of our position of world leadership. He warns that we may lose the uniquely American promise of upward mobility for all.
But, the good news is that it's not too late to save America. However, real change can't be imposed from above. It has to be what he calls "change that believes in you" -- a belief that Americans, properly informed of the facts, will pull together to make the necessary changes and that they are best- equipped to make the decisions governing their own lives. As he puts it:
"I urge great care not to drift into a loss of faith in the American people. We must never yield to the self-fulfilling despair that these problems are immutable, or insurmountable. Americans are still a people born to liberty. Addressed as free-born, autonomous men and women of God-given dignity, they will rise yet again to drive back a mortal enemy."
He gets it!
Well written. Daniels shows that it's going to require dropping the barriers that divide this country and work together to make the hard choices that will make us, as a whole, great once again.
A must read for every citizen
The book is written by a “level headed” politician (I guess they do exist) who speaks as someone who Is walking the talk. For those with strong ideologies (Right or Left), he successfully allows their views into the discussion and for those who are complacent, he offers a well thought out call to action. And for those of us tending to be cynical, maybe some hope.
This is not a theoretical treatise or a partisan diatribe. It is a discussion of who is the boss, i.e. The government (at all levels) or the governed. He makes the point, I believe rightly, that we are MATHEMATICALLY at the financial limit and politics has to be adjusted to meet the challenge of holding reasoned discourse -- regardless of one’s political persuasion.
The context of the the book is mostly about how, in a primarily democrat state, a governor could persuade (not without some admitted bumps along the way) the state government to do a better job for its employers (the taxpayers). These efforts resulted in turning a $700 million deficit into a $1.3 billion surplus in his first four years by improving government services and creating private sector jobs. The turnaround was due to adjustments in points-of-view by many stakeholders. Incidentally, his second term was won by a 58% to 40% margin -- larger than his first term by 6% points. The book is an exposition about how it was done in his state and the implications for the Nation. Note: this man is NOT running for President.
Keeping The Republic
This books supports my original theory that Mitch Daniels is too smart to want to be the President of the U.S.
I have not always agreed with some of the Daniels' administration decisions, this book has done much to improve my opinion on some of those decisions.
The book serves as a good historical reminder of what it takes to become, and remain a republic. Mitch draws stark conclusions regarding the differences between liberals and conservatives in how they operate, think, and ultimately want to accomplish.
I think there were a number of specific, concrete proposals that should be started immediately.
As a secular, socially liberal, fiscally conservative independent I really don't want the government in my business OR my bedroom, and I think I could trust Mitch to stay out of both while focusing on making things better. Too bad he's too smart...