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Every time I read the news, the headlines get worse. Housing starts down, the stock market down, inflation this, unemployment that … It got my husband to wondering, why is the overall attitude in America as bad as it is?

Before you give a knee-jerk answer of “Because I’m unemployed, stupid!” or some such equally valid (but cursory) reply, hear me out.

There seems to be a curious apathy rampant in our country lately. Our overall attitude is lethargic, almost indifferent to the actions of our government.

We see astounding new threats to our liberties daily. Government agents can legally sneak onto your property and put a GPS tracking device on your car without you knowing about it. The EPA is petitioning to ban lead bullets as a back-door way to reduce the availability of ammunition. Rep. Pete Stark smugly admits at a town-hall meeting that “the federal government can do most anything in this country.” And sadly, he’s right.

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Where’s the outrage? The abuse of power has far surpassed the abuses of power imposed by King George III prior to the Revolutionary War. Yet most people merely yawn and say, “I wonder what’s on TV tonight?” We’re witnessing things that 40 years ago would have had people marching in the streets. And when people do march in the streets, millions strong, the government yawns and goes fishing.

So people are giving up. They’re giving up the expectations that their children will ever have the success or stability of their parents’ generation. The old formula of working hard and succeeding doesn’t seem to work any more, so why try? Why not just let the government take care of us?

But even this attitude is more the symptom than the disease. For people to actually think that their children will never have it as good, they have to have made a tremendous mental shift. It’s not so much, “My children will never have it as good,” it’s more like “We’re not as good.”

You can delve into nuts and bolts of why we’re heading into socialism all you want, but none of those things could happen if a spirit of optimism and individuality were still intact in this country. But that spirit is eroding and almost gone. Our pride in being Americans is dissolving. When the president of the United States says, “Yes, we’re exceptional, but so is every other country,” then it indicates the certainty of America’s greatness is evaporating.

And every time we try to be exceptional, some new government rule or regulation strikes us down. Hell, a kid can’t even open a lemonade stand any more without a license. “Why isn’t the economy recovering?” asks John Stossel. “If left alone, the economy can and does heal itself, as the mistakes of the previous inflationary boom are corrected. … The problem today is that the economy is not being left alone. Instead, it is haunted by uncertainty on a hundred fronts. When rules are unintelligible and unpredictable, when new workers are potential threats because of Labor Department regulations, businesses have little confidence to hire.” [emphasis added]

“As much as I might want to hire new salespeople, engineers and marketing staff in an effort to grow, I would be increasing my company’s vulnerability to government,” Michael Fleischer, president of Bogen Communications Inc., wrote in the Wall Street Journal. [emphasis added]

Why is it no longer crystal-clear that government micromanagement is NOT what made America great? Have we “educated” ourselves into slavery this thoroughly?

It was in the crucible of fire that the steel of our greatness was forged. But fire hurts, and no one is willing to accept pain anymore. No one wants to deal with the pain of having no government interference or safety net, or the pain of forcing the government to live within the confines originally given in the founding documents, because that would mean giving up their “entitlements.”

Yet this nation rose to greatness because we had very little individual government involvement. We had to fight and claw and scratch our way to greatness, and took pride in what we became. When you win under those conditions, you have a pretty good attitude about yourself. The mindset in America for its first 200 years was, “Hey, we’re pretty good.” And when you have a whole nation made up of people like that, nothing is impossible. Yes, we had arrogance, and yes, we made mistakes. But that arrogance developed because we were a great nation, and knew it.

Now, we apologize for that attitude. We apologize for being great. We apologize for being American. Is this the “change” we were promised?

The people who are fired up and ready to do something are fighting more than just their government. They’re also fighting the collective spiritual sickness of millions of dumbed-down, apathetic sheeple who assume the government’s role is to catch them when they fall or support them when they’re down. The sheeple really don’t give a rip about whether the federal government becomes a nanny state. This is just the kind of apathy the nanny state loves, so it’s encouraged.

It was Alexander Tytler who noted, “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependency back again into bondage.”

Perhaps this is just the natural evolution of things. Perhaps we’re in the autumn of our nation. While I can’t say for certain, it sure is beginning to feel like fall.

But there’s hope. There are signs that Americans are becoming disgusted by their government and are pushing back. How far and how strong this “push” will be remains to be seen, of course. We might be able to return to our constitutional roots, if we push hard enough.

The question is, are we willing to suffer the pain? Because wearing chains never hurts as much as breaking them.

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