In his book, The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future, perhaps the most important public policy manifesto of the Obama era*, Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, spells out the choice facing Americans in the coming election:
This is not the culture war of the 1990s. this is not a fight over guns, abortions, religion, and gays. Nor is it about Republicans versus Democrats. Rather, it is a struggle between two competing visions of America’s future. In one, America will continue to be a unique and exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, increasing income redistribution, and government-controlled corporations. These competing visions are not reconcilable: We must choose.
Clearly, the incumbent President of the United States has chosen the “other” path. And the real question for this fall’s campaign is whether the Republican nominee will be able to make a compelling case for American exceptionalism. On his good days, Newt Gingrich does do that. And from time to time so has Mitt Romney.
Rick Santorum, unfortunately, sometimes get bogged down in the culture war, managing, as Carol Platt Liebau (quite sympathetic to social conservatives) the contraception mandate, ”to transform the debate over the HHS regulations from an issue of religious liberty – uniting conservatives, libertarians, and other Americans of good will in opposition to the ObamaCare overreach – into an issue of contraception.” (Via Hugh Hewitt.)
Indeed, many conservatives (& libertarians) have criticized the mandate with arguments nearly identical to those they use to articulate the principles of free enterprise.
We simply cannot lose sight of the stakes in this election. The Republican candidate for President will likely win should he keep the focus on this choice and remain ever aware that the incumbent, his party and the legacy media will be doing all in their party to keep from having this debate.