The Real Person of the Year: It's You, Again
It was the hundreds of thousands marching in tea parties across America. It was people using Facebook and Twitter to plan rallies and events. It was the political neophyte marching out into the political arena, not for glory and honor, but for the good of the country.
It was citizen journalists with limited resources who led exposes of Planned Parenthood and ACORN. The latter investigation even won the grudging admiration of Jon Stewart. Simply put, these and other grassroots actions succeeded while Republican leadership remains in shambles.
While Time extended its “love for you” to every person in the world, there’s no need to be so charitable. There are many countries around the world where the local “yous” haven’t done anything worthy of recognition. Just having a Facebook account isn’t enough for this. However, some “yous” beyond our borders did take a big step forward and take big risks for liberty. This summer’s Iranian protests of the reelection of madman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were blocked out by the Iranian government. However, the youth of Iran leveraged Twitter and social networking to share the world. Their efforts didn’t succeed in changing Iran’s government, but they did strike a blow in what will be a long battle for liberty and blaze trails in fighting tyranny in the information age.
In America, the “people of the year” have quite a task before them. In the 2010 and 2012 elections, the number one task for newly active conservatives is to “get it right” and to elect leaders who will protect our liberty and seriously address our most pressing problems in a way the Republicans haven’t.
The importance of getting it right is crucial because the conservative surge will eventually shrink. As much as this statement may chafe both the nascent political activist and the longtime pro, it’s a fact of life.
We live in a republic, and the foundational idea of our republic is that we elect people to wisely carry out the business of government with as little intrusion into the life of the individual as possible. When last year Michelle Obama told people President Obama “will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed,” she showed that Obamas do not understand how America works.
America has never had a system of government that demanded constant involvement. Rather, the Founders created a system of checks and balances with a representative form of government that could allow the individual to focus his life on himself, his family, and his community, not Capitol Hill.
The left has an easy time establishing a permanent activist class. It’s not hard when the success of your policies means people will become dependent on your programs, and bureaucracies will be created that will overwhelmingly be made up of your political supporters. True liberty doesn’t create much bureaucracy.
The long-term success or failure of your noble actions in 2009 will depend on the leaders you bring to office. A few years ago, the grassroots conservatives stood up and forced from office an out-of-control, big-spending gubernatorial administration. Wise GOP bosses who hadn’t been able to defeat the Democratic executive anointed a candidate from on high and that candidate was elected.
However, did the activists get what they want? Were the hours spent in the hot sun and in all kinds of weather justified by the results of their hard work? The 2003 grassroots California recall effort led to the disastrous election of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Thus, while I applaud the people of the year, I offer a charge for all of us as we move into 2010 and 2012.
Get it right.