Fifty years ago today America faced a choice very much similar to the choice we face today.
On October 27, 1964, a clarion call was heard across the nation. America faced a choice, a speaker told us: We could either “abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves,” or we could reaffirm our belief “in our capacity for self-government.”
That man was Ronald Reagan and then, as now, it was a time to choose.
Today, the threats are every bit as dire. Over the past six years, individual rights have been attacked from all corners. In my home state of Texas, the City of Houston recently subpoenaed pastors, ordering them to surrender their sermons to City Hall. Powerful leaders from the White House on down have sought to take away Second Amendment rights from citizens all across America. Senate Democrats are supporting a constitutional amendment to repeal the individual right to free speech enshrined in the First Amendment. The IRS has illegally targeted Americans for their political beliefs.
The list goes on, but one thing is clear: The Obama administration, and the Democratic party as a whole, has shown an unprecedented disregard for our most fundamental freedoms.
At the same time, for many, the American dream seems to be slipping away.
The Obama economy has left millions of Americans who want to work without a job or the chance to earn better wages. Due to the lack of opportunities, young people have been forced to put on hold their dreams of paying off college debt, starting a career, getting married, owning a home, and having children.
We must be free to succeed again, and that begins with giving people the ability to earn a living.
Today, America has the lowest labor-force participation rate we’ve had since 1978. A record 92 million Americans over the age 16 are neither working nor looking for work. And Obamacare only makes it more and more difficult to make ends meet as employers have been forced to cut hours, jobs, or wages. Moreover, the average family is paying $3,000 more for their health insurance than they did before Obamacare was passed.
We are suffering the consequences of the misguided Obama–Clinton global strategy, too. The notion of “leading from behind” has allowed tyrants and terrorists to pursue ambitious plans unthinkable six years ago.
The so-called Russian reset allowed Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.
The administration is drifting toward a perilous nuclear deal with Iran that would allow the Islamic Republic to retain thousands of active centrifuges.
The threat from the Islamic State was neglected or ignored until these vicious terrorists burst onto the world stage, beheading Americans in a gruesome campaign to claim a new caliphate.
Hamas continues to attack our brothers and sisters in Israel with little or no condemnation from the international community.
Here at home, ill-considered cuts to the defense budget have unnecessarily diminished our readiness to confront these threats.
What is to be done about it? Some people appear to have given up, saying America’s best days are over. I don’t believe that. Yes, we are facing dark times, but we’ve faced adversity before. America is defined by its ability to overcome. It’s in our DNA.
The Carter era was riddled with pain, suffering, and struggle, and that all changed when a grassroots movement known as the Reagan Revolution swept the nation and ushered Ronald Reagan into the White House in the 1980 election.
Change came fast. Tax rates were lowered; the economy boomed. Unemployment fell even as millions joined the workforce. Income grew three times faster in the Reagan recovery than it has in the Obama economy. If today’s economy had improved at the pace of Reagan’s recovery, we would have 11.7 million more private-sector jobs.
Reagan assured Americans that when it came to the Cold War, the strategy was simple: “We win, they lose.” And we did. The impossible became possible and the Berlin Wall came crumbling down.
I am convinced we will rise to the challenge again. America has a blazing can-do spirit. It’s time to let it shine. We are still a country that can boldly lead the next generation into a new era of jobs, growth, and prosperity and raise the lamp of freedom for the world to see.
That is the grand promise of America. That is a promise we can deliver but, as Reagan said, only the People can choose.
— Ted Cruz represents Texas in the United States Senate.