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In Need of American Nehemiahs

I’ve thought a great deal over the past several months about the warning of Jesus on how we should let “[our] ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and [our] ‘no’ be ‘no.'” This admonition seems largely lost on our culture, as our leaders prefer to talk about what they’re going to do, rather than actually doing it. This actually takes these “leaders” out of the arena of leadership and places them in the more appropriate ring of pretension. America is in trouble, our economy is edging toward the point of no return. Now is a time for Truth. Now is a time for courage.

Last week, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced his presidential intentions in a well-made video, wherein he proclaimed that he would tell America the truth. This promise made it all of two days before the “truth telling candidate” was already obfuscating the facts in a feeble attempt at electoral wooing. After months of talking about the tough choices the American People must make to restore fiscal sanity to our nation, he has already backed away from Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis) plan to reform Medicare and other entitlement programs. Knowing the numbers I’ve seen, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are not heading toward insolvency, they’re already there. All benefits paid from these programs are being taken from current tax revenue, not interest-earning trust funds. This means that the big three entitlements are turning into big three Ponze schemes faster than Barack Obama can fill out an NBA bracket. For a serious candidate for president, who touts himself as a conservative, to ignore the reality of entitlement insolvency is unacceptable. We have serious problems, and we need serious leaders to solve them.

A serious leader would level with the American public and tell us the truth. These truths, that are quickly becoming self-evident include, the fact that Social Security won’t be there for the next generation, Medicare and Medicaid are the biggest drivers of the Federal deficit, and that government cannot be all things to all people. It is high time for politicians to tell the public that the programs have failed, and that it’s time for individuals, not institutions, to pick-up the pieces.

As I said on my radio program this morning, ignoring the pressing problems facing America won’t make them go away. Pretending that entitlement programs can go on uninterrupted is either ignorant or evil, and neither option is particularly comforting. If our political leaders really believe these programs can remain solvent, they are in need of remedial mathematics. If they know better, but tell people that they’re salvageable anyway, they’re evil in that they are providing false comfort to folks in financial danger; it would be like the officers of the Titanic telling people not to get in life boats or put on life preservers, because the ship isn’t really sinking.

We need officers at the helm who can tell us that our great ship of state is floundering, and what the necessary steps are to reverse her decline. Truth always leads to freedom, lies always lead to bondage. The president of the White Star Line, which owned the Titanic, supposedly responded, after being told that the ship would sink: “this ship can’t sink!” This ignorant answer was swiftly rebutted by the ship’s architect who assured him that she could, in fact, sink and that it was a “mathematical certainty.” My friends, that America’s deficit is unsustainable is a mathematical certainty. That her massive entitlement programs are, effectively, insolvent is a mathematical certainty. Now, it is time to tell the truth, so that individuals can work to restore the American Dream.

Rebuilding our culture and economy will be the work of every American. Entitlements only shrink if people no longer feel entitled. Government hand-outs only dissipate when neighbors help neighbors in need, and folks become responsible for their own future. We must, as my friend Jim DeMInt has stated, “have the courage to live free.” When Nehemiah sought to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem during the Persian Empire, he didn’t do so through big government bureacracy. Instead, he called on individuals to “rise up and rebuild.”

My friends, it is time to become American Nehemiahs who rise up to rebuild a culture of liberty in our land. We must be the change we want to see, and stop waiting for government programs to try and fail to solve problems only the people have the power to fix. Change begins in the house, but not the White House or the Statehouse, but in our houses. Let’s rise up and rebuild, and no go quietly into that good night as a nation of cowardly serfs before an all-powerful state.

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