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Looking For Another Lincoln

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Here is the campaign speech I wish John McCain or Barack Obama would deliver:

If I were a typical, hardworking wage earner uninvolved in the full-time practice of government and politics, I, like many of you, would resent politicians and public officeholders.

For far too many elections at almost every level, America’s voters have been subjected to candidates from both major political parties, and from seemingly all self-declared ideological persuasions, who are all too eager to convince them why they shouldn’t support their opponents.

Self-serving political expediency, rather than acting solely on the merits of what is best for America’s national and global interests, has become the mainstay of our political culture. It has become almost a given that a candidate will mindlessly go by the latest poll results rather than courageously follow his or her best governing and legislating instincts.

If I am privileged to be your next president, my approach to leading will be different. I will discard the self-serving and ultimately destructive notion that the next poll should dictate the next policy affecting the next generation of Americans.

The only poll results guiding me will be those that reveal what issues are of paramount concern to the American people. I will work strenuously to address those concerns without caring what the political “flavor of the day” is.

I will also fulfill my duties with the expectation that I am to be a one-term president. I will not spend one precious moment trading my responsibility to lead for ego-driven political jockeying. If I should decide to seek a second term, I am comfortable enough in my own skin to accept the American people’s verdict on my accomplishments or shortcomings.

In one his most important speeches — many believe it propelled him to the presidency — Abraham Lincoln spoke about the obligations of duty on February 27, 1860 at New York’s Cooper Union. He said, “Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the government nor of dungeons to ourselves.”

These timeless words, spoken in the context of slavery’s horrors, can easily apply to today’s war on terror and the battle for universal freedom.

Here is my perception of America’s position in the world, and the strategy by which I propose to carry out our sacred crusade to preserve and strengthen our way of life:

The unfortunate reality of our international role is that in the fight for liberty, we have been thrust into the position of being the world’s policeman. An enviable assignment it is not, but a winning absolute it certainly is. As the Jewish religious leader Hillel famously asked, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

We Americans must be for ourselves, for no other force can be counted on to help us enhance the human condition. But since we cannot realistically isolate ourselves from some of the world’s threats, we must protect and help spread — by military might if necessary — the unique, humane values we hold dear. And in light of terrorist acts perpetrated against us, at home and abroad, over the past few decades, the time to safeguard and fortify the decencies we cherish is now.

How do we reach these goals – goals that will, undoubtedly at some point, require some form of military action — while simultaneously minimizing the risks to our military personnel?

To begin with, seemingly endless negotiations with brutal dictators who wish to harm the United States, or who threaten the stability of civilized societies allied with us, are exercises in futility. There will be no place in my administration for the naïve belief that every unsettling crisis with murderous thugs posing as respectable global leaders can be solved through diplomacy.

I will invite all nations that respect our right to live freely to join our sacred cause. In return for their support we will defend their sovereignty to the degree they wish. Conversely, any nation that challenges our self-defined interests, domestically or overseas, does so at its own peril.

The United States of America will determine unilaterally  — and always without a care for the whims of the spineless United Nations — whether countries are with us or against us. Upon reaching those decisions, we will act accordingly.

And my administration will be discerning in our foreign aid handouts. Nations that receive the American people’s hard-earned tax dollars will be expected to support American interests. That includes the long-term war on terror, the spreading of democracy, and respect for internal human rights. On my watch, the days of providing billions to countries that routinely vote against us at the UN – Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan are three prime examples — will come to an abrupt end unless they mend their ways to our satisfaction.

Also at the top of our agenda is energy independence, which will not only immeasurably help our economy by permitting American consumers to invest more in their family’s future and spend less at the gas pumps, it will also allow us to finally pursue an uncompromising foreign policy. No longer will we be forced to coddle totalitarian anti-western regimes.

To gain that independence, we will need to establish a dual strategy. Yes, we must conduct offshore drilling in uninhabited areas, but at the same time it is incumbent on us to maximize the use of fuel-efficient vehicles. This can be accomplished by voluntarily cutting back on luxury driving and with the imposition of a $5,000 tax on the purchase by a family of four or fewer of any new vehicle that does not get at least 35 miles per gallon.

Smaller, more fuel-efficient cars are likely to be built, purchased and driven, translating into a successful transition away from imported oil. And the proceeds from that $5,000 tax will be earmarked for low-income, disabled and senior Americans who need help with their ever-rising home energy bills.

Finally, passage of my proposed “2009 Air and Naval Superiority Act” will be our top national security priority. The basics of the legislation are as follows:

* We will aggressively seek mutual defense pacts with American allies in every regional hotspot. A major aspect of these security alliances will feature the stationing of American Air Force and Navy personnel in nations like Poland (with whom we recently signed a missile defense base deal), India (with whom we are on the verge of completing a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement), Georgia, Israel and South Korea.

* Whenever and wherever I decide, based on conclusive intelligence data, that American interests are threatened, we will not hesitate to inflict continuous damage via air and sea, either in full view of the world or by effective clandestine measures.

This will put our enemies on notice that every harmful action they pursue will be met by America’s full retaliatory might and it will keep all other rogue entities wondering whether they might be the next target of America’s just wrath.

This policy will have the added benefit of ensuring a safer environment for American forces, since no ground troops will be needed for implementation.

In his Cooper Union speech, Lincoln emphasized quintessential American moral values with these words: “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

I will do my utmost to carry Lincoln’s message forward.

Thank you and God bless America.

About the Author: Eli Chomsky is a copy editor and staff writer for The Jewish Press. He can be reached at eliris18@aol.com.

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