On Tuesday, America makes a choice.  Until Barack Obama, the consequences of presidential elections were constrained within relatively narrow limits.  Regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican won, it was understood—or at least assumed to varying degrees of accuracy—that America would continue.  Certainly, policies would shift to the right or left in various ways, but nothing would be done that would push the course of our nation off the path established by the Founders.  Freedom would abide.  Free enterprise would allow all to prosper or fail according to their industry and ability, and there would be a reasonable safety net for those who, through no fault of their own, fell upon hard times.  A firm net, its largess was not unlimited.  Americans expected that, wanted it, needed that understanding.

America would continue to grow because Americans not only wanted it to grow, but expected it to grow and were eager to be a part of that growth.  Americans understood that if they wanted to continue to enjoy the convenience of packaged foods in the grocery store, quality, affordable clothing, and the easy freedom to travel for work, the maintenance of life or simply because they wanted to travel, oil, in enormous quantities, had to be found, pumped, refined and delivered to neighborhood gas stations. They understood that affordable energy, air conditioning, heating and gasoline are the necessities of life, the engine of prosperity and the very life-blood of liberty and national security.

They expected to live under the rule of law, and while they occasionally chafed at the restraints of this or that statute, they, for the most part, played along.  How could police forces possibly function if most people didn’t choose to follow the law most of the time?

As America grew, racism became unacceptable, abhorrent, and those who espoused it, social pariahs.  The civil rights movement achieved its legitimate goals, and all Americans of good will came to judge others not by the color of their skin, but on the content of their character.  Martin Luther King Jr. really was a man ahead of his time.

Americans have never been surprised when politicians have turned out to be corrupt.  They expect a certain amount of lying and dissembling.  But there have always been limits.  There have been lines that Americans—and politicians—have understood should never be crossed, for if those lines ever ceased to exist, so too would the rule of law.

In short, Americans believed that America was permanent.  It would not—could not–fail therefore, no single presidential election could be the tipping point.  There were limits after all, unspoken rules by which everyone would always play.  America was and always would be the one exceptional nation and the one exceptional people, the shining city on the hill all peoples hoped to emulate and to which all who sought liberty longed to immigrate.  When John F. Kennedy said:

 We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet and hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

he spoke directly to American hearts, hearts willing to pay that price, including their lives, that, as Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address:

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

It was, at one time, unthinkable that America’s credit rating would be downgraded—twice—or that national financial collapse was even a remote possibility.  America was too strong, too proud, too patriotic to shirk her international responsibilities–her duty to mankind–to turn her back on what it is to be the one indispensable nation, too wise to allow the petty corruptions of men to corrupt the greatest experiment in democracy men have ever conceived.

And then came Barack Hussein Obama, who at a press conference after an April, 2009 NATO conference provided his views on American exceptionalism: 

I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.

Unlike Mr. Obama, many nations are beginning to realize that America truly is exceptional and indispensable.  They begin to flee socialism and statism even as Mr. Obama rushes to impose it.  Hard economic and national security reality is causing them to understand that if America is not exceptional, strong and dedicated to not only the ideal of liberty but its application, as were Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, there is no replacement and nowhere to go but into the limitless depths of despotism and savagery. At long last, many Europeans finally understand that no nation has ever been so kind, so generous, and so willing to spend its blood and treasure to bestow upon others the priceless gifts of prosperity and freedom.

Robert Heinlein understood:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as ‘bad luck.’

Mr. Obama has never understood or believed in liberty, America or democracy.  And therein lies our choice.

Led by Mitt Romney is the hope for the restoration of the ideals of the founders.  It is a hope for federalism, for limited government, limited by the rule of the law of the land, the Constitution.  It is informed by respect for the giants of those days, men who truly understood human nature and laid the foundation for the most prosperous, free, generous and kind constitutional republic ever conceived by man.  It is, above all, a hope for individual sovereignty and freedom, the recognition that the larger government grows, the more power it seizes, the smaller each citizen becomes, until finally, he is reduced to a vassal, grateful for whichever morsels of privilege–for liberty will be dead–the all-powerful government deems fit to bestow.  It is a nation where government truly is established “of the people, by the people, [and] for the people.”  It is a nation where those few who work for the government understand they are the employees of the people, and they serve far greater purposes than the petty hording of power, punishing their enemies, rewarding their friends, and controlling the lives of others.

This vision of America allows no cult of personality.  It realizes that Mitt Romney is just a man, a good man, a qualified man, a capable and experienced man, but a man, a man who must be continually watched to ensure that absolute power does not absolutely corrupt.  He will never be called “The One.”  He will never be depicted with halos, or lauded as a messiah.

It is a realistic vision, a vision that seeks nothing more than a restoration of the American spirit, of those who believe in equality of opportunity and delight in the success of others, finding it inspiring rather than evidence of greed or unfairness.  It embraces a full and gracious spirit, the spirit of those who have given so much to build America to the pinnacle of human achievement and who hope to pick her up as she has faltered, once more, proudly and with gladness, to set her on the path.

Led by Mr. Obama, the alternative is the vision of equality of outcome and “fairness” to be determined and enforced by unelected, self-imagined elites who consider themselves intellectually and morally superior, the masters of, rather than the employees of, the American people.  These are people, who, like Mr. Obama, despise the American people and consider themselves more worthy.  No one said it better than Mr. Obama at a fundraiser among the faithful in April of 2008 as he spoke of “average” Americans:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

In four years, Mr. Obama has lived these cruel and condescending words to a degree few thought possible.

Mr. Obama’s vision is of an unlimited and ever-growing government, a government of legions of unelected, utterly unaccountable bureaucrats with unlimited power over the liberty of Americans.  It is a government that will, through ObamaCare, control the very lives of Americans, deciding who shall live and who shall die.  A board of 15 soulless elites will hold the power of life and death and will wield it mercilessly in the name of fairness and wise resource allocation.

It is a vision of class hatred, racial division and strife, the elevation of the trivial and meaningless to the heights of importance while calling it true freedom.  It is a vision of the destruction of religious liberty in the name of fairness, of the abolition of free speech in the name of political correctness, and the destruction of the Second Amendment in the name of safety.

In that vision, no restriction of freedom is too great, no tax too large, no burden too great to be bourn by Americans, no opportunity to slight America’s allies will be overlooked and no chance to embrace America’s enemies will be missed.  Americans will be abandoned in the face of certain death–Benghazi was only the first betrayal.  America will withdraw her protection from the world and Islamic despotism and the 7th century horrors it embodies will be loosed on the world.

It is a vision W.B. Yeats foresaw in 1919 in The Second Coming: 

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Pray that Americans make the right choice.  Pray that vote fraud will not tip the balance.  Pray that America keeps faith with Lincoln and Kennedy and all who have given the last full measure of devotion that liberty not perish from the earth.  For the first time in the modern era, not only is that possible, it is a virtual certainty if Americans have forgotten what it means to be Americans, in a nation that is the last, best hope of man.  Pray that I never again have to write:

And we elected him president.