When it comes to its future, America has a choice

Published 9:00 pm Saturday, July 17, 2010

Consider the following four events that have occurred over the past year:

On a single day – June 30, 2010 – our nation’s debt leapt $166 billion. On that one day, the debt increase was larger than the entire annual deficit for fiscal year 2007. To put that into perspective, that single day resulted in a $1,500 increase for every household in the United States in national debt. That demonstrates the speed to which our nation is heading in a dangerous direction.

Just a couple of weeks ago, we celebrated the independence of the United States. On that day, 234 years after our 56 Founding Fathers pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honors for our freedoms, the largest communist nation in the world owned more of our debt than any nation in the history of our existence. In one year from April 2009 to April 2010, our debt to China increased by 18 percent.

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China has, for the first time in our lifetimes, more ships in its navy than the United States has in our Navy. According to the testimony of Admiral Robert F. Willard, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, China has increased its number of ships to 290, bypassing the current number of U.S. ships. This is an increase of over 30 ships since the Department of Defense last released research on the size of China’s navy in March of 2009.

Just this month, the Xinhua News Agency – China’s primary news service and propaganda arm of the Communist Party – announced that they will begin to broadcast world news from a communist perspective from Times Square in New York City. According to a report from the New York Times, the president of Xinhua specifically said its purpose broadcasting from Times Square is to “present an international vision with a Chinese perspective.”

When taken together, these events naturally paint a discouraging picture of America’s future. In the face of these events, there is a tendency for many individuals across the country to begin to think that America’s best days are behind us. And no matter what the circumstances, there are always those individuals who genuinely do not believe that America is exceptional or great.

I do not buy the theory that American’s greatest days are behind us. I do realize, though, that we are heading in the wrong direction, and we are heading there very fast.

In many ways, our relationship with China has been a distinct marker of the direction of our nation. When looking at China, it is easy to see where we as a nation have let opportunities pass, and where China has seized them. Some individuals might say that all of these opportunities have happened because China is actively seeking to build a global empire through its economy, its military, and its media. I have long argued that China’s actions warrant concern, and I continue to argue so. However, I believe equally that the actions of the U.S. warrant great concern. The most concerning fact, though, is that it was not China who took the opportunities from us – they did not destroy our ships. They did not ask us to spend money. They did not trick us into holding more of our national debt than any other nation. What is most concerning is that we let it happen.

America has a choice. We do not have to continue to head in this direction. Yet, there are certain commitments that must be made by elected officials in Washington and by American citizens to turn our nation around.

First, we must turn back to the principles that made our nation great; principles of freedom, liberty, and prosperity that are found in our Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution and that say individuals – not the federal government – have the inalienable right to make the choices that are best for their families, and that business owners have the right to make choices that are in the best interest of their business. Leaders in Washington must make tough decisions that will ultimately rein in runaway spending and restore an environment that rewards American entrepreneurialism.

Second, we must realize that the decisions our leaders make today will impact the United States for decades and generations to come. Americans have a responsibility to hold their leaders accountable, and our nation’s leaders have a responsibility to be transparent with the individuals they represent.

And finally, if we do not do anything else, we must make a commitment that we will never look the 56 Americans who signed the foundational document of freedom of the world in the eye and apologize for the greatness of America. America is a nation that was born to be special, and the moment we begin to apologize for America is the moment we begin to spread roots that choke out any seeds of success.

America may not be perfect, but America is great. The American experiment is worth preserving. To see that America’s greatest days are ahead of us, we must realize that the direction of our nation’s future does not lie with China or any other outside entity – it lies within our own ability to make difficult choices.