That Every Man Can Make Himself

It was 1856. Fifty-five months before the civil war ripped the nation apart. Abraham Lincoln was on stage speaking to Republicans in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ten thousand people showed up to hear the lanky lawyer from Illinois.

Lincoln was a gifted speaker, but he was awkward. He stood out in a crowd. Lincoln opened his mouth. His speech was no Gettysburg address. But a nation already grappling with the idea of a manifest destiny understood his message.

“We are eighty years old,” he started. “We stand at once the wonder and admiration of the whole world, and we must enquire what it is that has given us so much prosperity. This cause is that every man can make himself.”

Every man can make himself.

125 years later another man who stood out from the crowd took to the stage. On inauguration day 1981, Ronald Reagan proclaimed government the problem. It was government that stood in the way of men making themselves.

It is, in fact, the most consistent theme of the Republican Party over multiple generations — freedom to choose one’s path in life. If given the opportunity, every man can make himself.

The role of government is to assist men in this endeavor, not to guide but to stand aside, to create a level playing field where all men are given equal opportunity to make of themselves as they will. Where equality comes at the beginning of destiny through opportunity, not the end through outcome.

Freedom versus equality. That is the the great debate we are having in the country, isn’t it? Republicans want people to have the freedom to succeed, but with that also comes the freedom to fail. Democrats want people to have equality. Not equal opportunity. Republicans are still trying for that one — it is, after all, the American Dream.

Democrats abandoned the idea of equal opportunity the moment they hopped in bed with the unions.

Now they are all about equal outcomes.

We know that Barry Obama will fail. In trying to keep us all equal, he must keep us all down. He must punish success. And history shows that punishing success never works.

Men yearn for freedom. Successful men will find it, whether on the black market or the free market. Barack Obama will fail.

But what of the Republicans? What about us? It’s not good enough to know that Barack Obama will fail. If we have nothing with which to replace him, we too will fail.

Obama promised to throw out the failed policies of the last eight years. In doing so, he is replacing them with the failed polices of the last one hundred years.

We can laugh at that, but remember — the American people think these last eight years have been a failure. So what do we do.

Hogan, last night, posited that no one knows what the Republican Party stands for. According to Rasmussen Reports today, “Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Republican voters say their party has no clear leader.”

Compound the lack of message with the lack of a leader and you have a disaster in the making for the GOP. For those who would seek to rise up as leader of the GOP, let me offer a suggestion: make the case for freedom. Make the case for men choosing their own way in life.

RedState has made this pitch before. We noted that

The Republican Party has always embraced a wide range of ideological beliefs – and this diversity of thought has sometimes inspired conflict, as it has also led to great achievement. Yet through all debates, despite all regional or political concerns, the foundation of Republicanism has been the same since its inception: the freedom of the individual, and the value of every human life.

These principles have guided the party from its origin as a political force to destroy slavery, to the long fight against communism, to the ongoing battle for the sanctity of the unborn, to the present war against the forces of Islamism. Those principles will guide the Republican Party through the twenty-first century, and beyond. And we believe the GOP must rededicate itself to the idea of individual freedom – of being the party that believes not in government mandated parity, which wields the power of the bureaucracy to force a false equality of outcome, but in a level playing field for all Americans regardless of race, class, or creed – ensuring an equal opportunity to compete, succeed, and thrive.

The Republican Party must reclaim its rightful mantle as the leading champion of Freedom of Choice.

People must be free to decide how to direct their lives for themselves, and then be responsible for their choices.

It’s time to be reminded of that again. The other party is about equality of people. But people know innately that real equality of person will never happen. We can have equal opportunity provided through great education, etc., but the outcomes will never be alike.

As Obama pushes down the top and provides barriers to keep people from making themselves in this world, the GOP must reassess what it stands for and should weigh each and every policy by asking one question: will this policy impede the cause that every man can make himself?”

No one need know the individual planks of the Republican Party Platform. But I insist that each person know that with the Republican Party freedom will prevail and each man really can make himself.

That’s my Republican Party.