Real Leaders Don't Promote Dependency
While campaigning in Colorado on Sept. 2 en route to the Democratic National Convention, President Obama boasted: "You know, he [Romney] calls it ObamaCare. I like the name. I do care. I guess you call his plan 'Romney doesn't care.'" As with all liberals vying for votes during the past 35 years, Mr. Obama is using the "caring" theme to persuade voters that he is more qualified to lead the country.
But is the "I care more" claim a qualification for leadership, or is doing what is right and workable a better formula? Better yet, should we as a country, founded on the unique morality of the Judeo-Christian ethos, knee-jerkily accept a platitude asserting the more we take from Peter to give to Paul the greater is our commitment to caring when, by so doing, we destroy the moral foundation of personal responsibility upon which the Judeo-Christian ethos is built?
History has shown that self-aggrandizing feel-goodism showered top-down from the "caring class" is mere sentiment and falls far short of that which the individual gains through virtue and fulfilling his personal moral obligations. While that which is intrinsically moral uplifts and builds, that which is emoted from feel-good sentiments alone often weakens the individual and results in catastrophic dependency.
We Americans were not placed on this earth to be dependents controlled by a ruling class. Those accused of "not caring" are more likely to be guided, actually, by the spirit of Genesis, which says that a human reaches his majesty not by finding reasons to shirk responsibility, but in overcoming his challenges and rising to his moral potential through work and sacrifice.
The seminal sentence in the Bible is enunciated in the very beginning: "And God created man in His image." It is also the fountainhead of our Judeo-Christian outlook and that which separates us from hierarchal or passive religions, as well as socialism. A likeness to God endows us with free will and asks that we be productive, responsible, and independent. We humans are, as the psalmist declares, "[b]ut a little lower than angels." Our autonomy is manifest through a personal responsibility in taking care of, first, ourselves and all the relationships we have freely chosen, such as family and friends. This is the moral thing -- i.e., that which we ought to do. Catholics call this subsidiarity.
Our charge is to be active beings. Those who expect others to take care of them are shirking their own moral duty and, when demanding it under a fictitious notion of "entitlement," are acting immorally.
Left-wing politicians, hoping to disguise their formula for getting elected by buying votes, beatify themselves by convincing the public they do so out of heightened "caring" and that the recipient class is somehow entitled to the earnings of others through ever-expanding government redistribution. It has proven effective in securing votes, but it is leading to an unheard-of American dependency, damaging the individual character of Americans and changing us from who we have been to who we should not become.
A sense of entitlement too often leads to ingratitude: why be grateful for that which one has been told is rightfully his? Entitlement-societies seem to have little compassion for those who work hard and follow the rules, and see fairness as something due those claiming victimhood but not those who are straight-laced and buttoned down. It corrupts moral language by imputing greed to those wanting to retain the fruit of their labor for family while whitewashing the actual greed of those who demand what belongs to others.
To be sure, one's visibility and image for being "caring" are spotlighted when shaping grand socialist programs -- engineering the utopia -- rather than remaining behind the scenes, letting business create the jobs that give individuals the livelihood and dignity that allows them to feed themselves and not be fed by the Caring Class. But genuine caring is not about bragging rights or how great and magnanimous we pretend we are; rather, caring lies in doing that which is best for another's personal growth. We humans have been called upon by God not to do that which is politically liberal, but rather that which is moral. But for the '60s "Me Generation" now in power, it's always been about me and how I look.
What we see in Genesis is a God who wants human to be strong, not victims. "Be fruitful and multiply" not only with progeny, but with personal accomplishment as well. "And you shall subdue the Garden and master over it": God hopes we become robust, active individuals, not couch potatoes waiting for a government check. Victimology is not the birthright God envisioned for us. We are to leave this world having become more than what we were when born into it. We arrive with hands open and leave with fists clenched with accomplishment.
Yes, we must, as the Bible says, "help the widow and orphan." But we are not to erect a welfare state creating more widows and orphans, more dependents. Nor does charity mean punitive taxes to provide wireless text messaging the accosted taxpayer can't afford for himself. Our morality and standing as a society are attained not by how many more we can exhibit on food stamps, but by how many more have actual, silent jobs.
Our government was instituted to enshrine liberty, not to be the treasure chest of those clamoring for cradle-to-grave support. That was never the original contract between the Constitution and the American people. We should not become a nation wed to an entitlement ethos. We were founded as a republic, not a welfare state.
Rabbi Spero is author of Push Back: Reclaiming our American Judeo-Christian Spirit and president of Caucus for America.