Twentieth century American politics have never represented the feelings of most Americans when it comes to government. It’s easy to quibble about ‘big government, small government’ but honestly, that’s not the argument that catches most Americans. What does, is how the government affects them, no matter what the size is.
So, naturally, it would make since that a larger government would have more impact on the individual than a smaller government, and I think Newt Gingrich understands this fact, much like he understands ‘2+2=4.’ Now where a lot of Americans differ is their perspective on the impact.
Some believe that the government can play an important and vital role in their lives. I do not. Newt Gingrich spoke about personal sovereign, which isn’t just an important part of being an American, but an important part of being a human. I wouldn’t trade my personal sovereignty for all the security in the world, nonetheless I know some people would.
What Newt Gingrich was essentially getting at is that since we have this personal power and the state has no initial power, that we loan our power to the state, this means that we are responsible for ourselves. This is also the only way we can obtain the Jeffersonian/Scottish Enlightenment version of happiness, because the government can’t give us wisdom. Wisdom, like power, is derived from the individual.
Now, the common point liberals make is that if everyone is looking out for only himself or herself, this can cause a very selfish nation. This argument has many flaws in it mainly the fact that people’s personal wisdom doesn’t add anything to the society as a whole, that if people focus all there energy into bettering themselves and their families that some how the country will suffer.
The Wright Brothers didn’t build the plane at Kitty Hawk for America, they built it for themselves, to prove to themselves that they could do it. In the process though, their individual wisdom added to the collective good of the entire country.
America is nothing more that a collection of individuals, striving to make their lives the best that they can and in the process helping each other. Without the Wright Brothers, Howard Hughes never would have dreamed of an airline, a plane that can double as a boat or even the push-up bra. Individual innovation is the American dream, it isn’t large houses and millions of dollars, it isn’t unlimited health-care or free food for everyone, it’s about making your personal life the best you can with what you have. Even though you have to fight for that, even though you have to be courageous like Gingrich said, at the end of it all, this life was yours and no one else’s. When nature finally takes away your personal sovereignty you should be able to say, “I made it this far because I tried this hard. I tried this hard because that’s the hardest I can try.” Even though it’s over, that wisdom, the wisdom of the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Howard Hughes and innovators all around America will live on.