Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Vision Thing: President George W. Bush has it.

At the Republican National Convention, President Bush laid out a vision, or rather, a further expansion of his vision for America and the world. It was not just a vision for the next four years. Sure, he will try to accomplish much in that time, but it was broader than that. The scope of what he expressed encompasses an ideal to benefit generations to come. He expressed a domestic vision for an “ownership society” and a global vision of bringing democracy to the oppressed. It was a lofty set of goals, but that was the point. Leaders who are also visionaries intentionally set goals high enough so that people keep reaching, keep believing, keep hoping. President Reagan did that so well. President Bush understands Ronald Reagan’s vision. He believes in it. He is inspired by it as so many of us are and he wants to continue that optimistic spirit in America.

In listening to the post-speech analysis on Fox News, I was struck by something Morton Kondracke said about the Kerry campaign and their vision, or lack thereof. He said he had spoken with senior campaign staff and he asked them if they thought this election was very important, historically speaking. They said to him they didn’t really think so. This, I found, troubling and alarming.

Why are they running? Are they preemptively and subconsciously warning us not to expect too much if their guy wins? Our country cannot let the next president operate with a September 10th mentality. However, the Senator and his friends do not seem to fully grasp the gravity of it all. They think Bush has overstated the War on Terror. They think we should pull back because we’ve offended some people. They say they’ll respond if we’re attacked again. That is not good enough anymore. The point is, we don’t want to be attacked again. The last attack was terrible and there are people who would do it again and worse. Bush and the military both prefer to respond to threats with overwhelming and decisive force. Senator Kerry prefers a reluctant and proportional response.

Kerry & Co., so far, seem to be running on a platform of Kerry’s ego and the fact that they want to kick Bush out. That will not, God-willing, be enough to get them elected. You have to run for something. You have to believe in something. Looking at Kerry’s 19 years in the Senate, it’s hard to know what Kerry really believes and if he believes anything very strongly. What has he accomplished? He has had no significant impact. He just coasted. Sure, he’s lived well. He was among the most privileged class in the country. It seems that is enough for John Kerry. He has learned as Clinton did that what matters is what you tell people you will do, not whether you actually do it. How else would Kerry have convinced his constituents to keep sending him back to Washington?

Does he really think he is up to being president? His record of attendance in the Senate is dismal and his pattern of indecision is worrisome.

The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Some might think it parochially cliché to use this quote, but I think it is relevant and important. You see, if you have no vision, you become complacent, indifferent. You embrace the status quo and mediocrity. You take things for granted. This can be a dangerous thing. Freedom cannot afford to be taken for granted because we cannot afford to have freedom taken from us. Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is not something to be secured in any one moment of time. We must struggle to preserve it every day. And freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”

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