And now we’ve been introduced to Mr. Ryan. MMMMMMMM. So seductive. There’s nothing so appealing as a man who knows his own mind, knows what he wants, and how to get it. The only question is, can he follow through?
Mr. Ryan talked a good talk. He stated the problem, Mr. Obama’s failed policies, and suggested a solution, me and Mitt. He intimated that Mitt Romney, who has turned everything he has touched into gold, can make a $15 trillion dollar debt disappear, can make a recalcitrant Congress ease its double imposition of not passing a budget while enacting tons of new regulations, can wave his magic wand and pouf! conjure up a whole batch of new jobs, can dispatch foreign interests and entanglements that threaten our shores.
What a heady mix! And he stared straight into the camera as he invoked his promises, one by one, his blue eyes staring his intentions, his forehead creased in a frown as he recounted Mr. Obama’s disappointed tenure, his face lighting up as he contemplated the plans that he and Mr. Romney are prepared to bring to fruition.
If only we could believe! But isn’t this the same tax-and-spend Paul Ryan who has been resident in Capitol Hill for the past fourteen years? Isn’t this the same Mitt Romney who inflicted his own brand of Obamacare on Massachusetts? Why should we believe? Have they shown us any actions they’ve taken in furtherance of their stated goals of limiting government, balancing the budget, beating down the deficit? At this point, it all seems just more empty promises.
Since neither Mr. Ryan nor Mr. Romney can run on their track records of good governance, of appreciation of the value of limited government, we can only choose to believe. And isn’t that what happened four years ago? We were asked to believe…in hope and change. It’s a little disconcerting to find ourselves in the same boat again.
Is there enough difference between someone who was wholly untried, untested, when he took office, and someone who has held office but has had a change of heart? Is Mr. Obama’s power grab so detestable, his stimulus packages so utterly without merit, his decision to stay the course so obviously doomed to failure, that we are willing to take any alternative?
Or will hearts falter? The devil you know…and all that. Mr. Ryan gave a great speech, an inspiring speech, of the kind that John Wayne would recite right before yelling “Tally Ho!” at the Alamo; that Sly Stallone would growl to his fellow Expendables as they pit their Sig Sauers against the enemy’s AK-47’s; that Harry Potter would offer if he were not off dealing with Voldemort by himself; that Captain America—you get the idea. It’s the typically American, it’s us against all odds, do or die, stir to arms that we all know by heart, instinctive in the American psyche.
So, shall we heed the siren’s call? It’s almost impossible to resist, that nod to individualism while suggesting collective action. We all have our parts to play, Mr. Ryan tells us, but we’re counting on each and every one of you to do his duty. It’ll be difficult, don’t let anybody fool you, but we’ll come out of this better people for the struggle and the suffering.
How many times, in how many movies, have we heard the same? Picture the scene: the nameless guy, so far only a face in the crowd, who, at the most dire moment, at the critical juncture, suddenly stands on a table and roars, “Let’s get ‘em, guys!”, then races to be first out the door.
I have to give Mr. Ryan this: at least he has captured the essence of the American spirit. We want to be told that it will be tough. We want to know that what we do makes a difference. We want our contribution to mean that the pie will get bigger, and that everyone will benefit. If Mr. Obama has a critical failing, it is that he does not ask enough of Americans. We don’t want handouts—we want to be the producers. We want to create such an abundance that we can give to others.
For too long, we have just gotten by. We have been told that we are not good enough to make it on our own, that we need help, a crutch. That attitude is bitter gall to most Americans, and we welcome the change that Mr. Ryan promises. We want to stand tall, on our own two feet, and extend the helping hand to others, not accept a handout ourselves.
Mr. Obama does not seem to understand this. And if Mr. Romney can make Americans believe what he says, that his way allows us all to be productive once more, he will take this election in a landslide. Because we were not meant to be cows, maneuvered here and there, searching for the pasture that someone else provided. We were not meant to be sheep, told where to stand in line for the next handout. We are not herd animals. We are eagles, swooping down to capture our prey on the run. Strong and firm—and individual.
Yet we are a collective people, as well. Our system of capitalistic behavior has taught us that we must work together to achieve anything, and that, if we work together, we can achieve anything. But we must work. We are not allowed excuses for our inaction. If we do not produce, it is not through someone else’s fault. It is our own choice. There are exceptions, of course, and there are safety nets for the truly needy. But for the rest of us, it’s time to pull our own weight.
Heady stuff, indeed. Now how will Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney carry this thought forward? How will they convince us that they will, indeed, implement this plan? How will Mr. Romney show us that he’s boss, that he has the situation well in hand? As they say in the movies, only time will tell.