(’76 Contributor) Last Saturday, May 22, I went to a conference at the University of Denver where Governor Sarah Palin, along with radio hosts Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt, defended limited constitutional government against the excesses of President Obama. While I found all three speeches inspiring and entertaining, Dennis Prager’s speech stood out as the most concise and substantive.
Hugh Hewitt gave a “Ten Commandments for 2010,” in which he exhorted the American people to support powerful republican candidates in the election and to discuss current issues with their Democratic friends.
Sarah Palin gave a rousing speech against Obamacare and its inherent rationing, Obama’s apology-driven foreign policy, the irresponsibility in government that gave rise to Greece’s economic debacle, and the condemnation of Arizona for enforcing national immigration laws. She ended on a positive note, mentioning Ronald Reagan’s history as a lifeguard, his personality grounded in conviction, and his optimistic common sense.
While these speeches strongly encouraged the audience, their focus on current issues constrains their power to the present. Dennis Prager’s speech, by contrast, voiced America’s foundational principles and the current disagreement about them. He proclaimed that the current political struggle is not about personalities, but ideas, that the American and Left-wing worldviews are waging a civil war over the heart of America.
He illustrated the Left-wing’s confusion in three points. The Left attacks the motives of TEA Partiers, declaring them racist and prejudiced, while defending those of terrorists, explaining that they might have had a bad day or faced a difficult foreclosure. The Left considers Arizona to be an enemy, and tries to negotiate with Iran. Finally, they do not understand the American system.
After listing these confusions, Prager explained the spirit of America as a trinity of three values proclaimed on any coin in your pocket—E Pluribus Unum, “Liberty,” and “In God We Trust.”
**He praised America as the least racist country in the world, noting how any immigrant becomes an American the very day he arrives, while immigrants to Europe do not assimilate, even after many generations. In contrast to the American spirit of E Pluribus Unum, the Left divides Americans into interest groups, and cannot understand when a black man stands up at a TEA Party with his “fellow Americans.”
** Secondly, Prager commented on the American love of liberty, in contrast to the Left’s desire for equality of result, even when it leads to poverty.
** Finally, he acknowledged America’s motto, “In God We Trust,” arguing that America was not founded to be a secular nation. Declaring the United States a Bible-based country, he explained that there is no liberty without God, and that God is the author of Human Rights.
After praising the term “Radical Islam” as a defense of normal Islam, Prager concluded his speech with another emphasis on liberty. He declared that “the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen,” and that as the freedom of citizens grows, the size government must shrink.
When asked about the biggest threat to the future of our country, Dennis Prager answered that it is not Obama, but rather our failure to understand what it means to be an American. He declared that there is a moral dimension to smaller government, and that when the government grows the citizens lose their virtue. We are our own problem, and we need to fix it.
Finally, in his closing remarks, Prager stood up against Obama’s attack on American exceptionalism. He quoted Lincoln, who said that America is the last best hope for mankind. Such a statement, Prager noted, has never been voiced for Norway, Sweden or Denmark. Obama states that he believes in American exceptionalism just as a Brit believes in British exceptionalism or a Norwegian believes in Norwegian exceptionalism. This relativistic statement holds that American exceptionalism is not exceptional. Dennis Prager believes that it is, explaining that it was our military who liberated Auschvitz and repeating the age-old wisdom that we mark a great experiment in Republican Government.
America stands at a cross-roads, and struggles in what many have called a “culture war.” The battlefield stands all around us, and American values face daily attacks. The very character of our great nation seems to be at stake, and it depends upon the people to stand up for what is good, true, and beautiful. I do not know whether the “Left” is the enemy, but someone is, and we must stand up for what we know to be good and true. Each citizen has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and therefore he has a duty to stand for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
As Governor Palin said at the end of her speech, our nation’s hope does not lie in Washington D.C., amid the columns of Congress or the power of the President. Our nation’s hope lies in the hearts and minds of its people, and you, and you alone, can defend her.
Tyler O’Neil is a Coloradan currently majoring in history at Hillsdale College.