Above all, we must resolve to remember. Politicians count on past betrayals and failures to vanish behind the blizzard of current events. Remember who voted to inflict horrors like ObamaCare on us, and who stood up for us when it counted. It shouldn’t be that hard to do, since the Internet is taking notes for us.
We should resolve to fully respect each other’s liberty. This is a fantastically difficult concept, which no generation has mastered since the Founders described it. True respect for freedom does not diminish with circumstance. Both contempt and envy are enemies of liberty. A “right” for one free citizen cannot exist in concert with an obligation against another. We should be resolute in our distrust of those who would presume to measure rights against each other.
Americans should be determined to avoid calling for both fiscal sanity and sustenance from their government. It does little good to call for an end to unsustainable spending if each of us clings to a different little piece of the government we are unwilling to surrender. Understand that everyone who makes demands of the State will end as a beggar. Both cradles and prison cells have bars that need breaking.
We should promise to judge each person as an individual. Nothing is said more loudly by our culture, or practiced more poorly. No one is guilty for the sins of others who share his blood or skin.
We should abandon our attempts to rule failure out of existence – an impossible quest that comes at the expense of success. Failure is an indispensable component of risk. To promise that no one can fail is to forbid everyone from taking risk in the pursuit of reward. You cannot respect someone without respecting their right to take a chance. In the mandated equality of outcome lies the acceptance of the merely adequate, and people will only accept the adequate when they have learned to despise excellence.
We should accept that no vision of modern Utopia is worth burdening future generations with a debt they never have a chance to refuse. A democracy that cannot respect the right of citizens yet unborn to pursue their own search for opportunity is limiting its own lifespan. It dies on the day its citizens are made a promise the future cannot pay for.
Make a commitment to look beyond the borders of your own state and town as you consider your votes in the next election, and remember that what happens in 2011 should be counted as heavily as the final events of summer 2012. Those you vote for will make decisions, in the high chambers of our central government, which shape the lives of people in other states, who will never get to vote against them. Be mindful of that responsibility. We are better served with fifty responsible states looking out for each other, rather than fifty snarling dogs fighting for table scraps.
Resolve to embrace your ambitions without regret, for no dream has ever been caught in a half-hearted chase. By striving to do the best for yourself and your family, you build the great strength of a nation that will never lack the heart to care for the less fortunate. The poor have never received greater gifts than the willing charity of a prosperous America, the miraculous products of its imagination, or the opportunities created through the ambitions of its free citizens. A compassionate nation should build its strength with joy, not shame.
Promise to respect and honor the sacrifices of all those who have laid down their lives in the service of their country, and their fellows who continue to patrol hungry streets and treacherous battlefields. Many journeys to foreign lands will be completed in 2011, and many more will begin. Let every soldier know that someone he’s never met is counting the days until he comes home safely. When they fall in the line of duty, let their final journey be accompanied by our reverence and gratitude. If Hollywood will not share the tales of their valor with our children, resolve to step in and do the job.
Finally, resolve to understand and embrace your birthright as an American: the gift of a law that transcends the State, rather than serving as its instrument. That law is not invincible. It’s your duty to defend it. You’ll encounter many threats and temptations to abandon this duty… and so will every American, for as long as the Stars and Stripes rise to greet the sun on New Year’s Day. The Constitution gave us conceptual arms to bear, not a shield to hide behind. When you truly understand the nature of an “inalienable right,” all of these other resolutions will prove much easier to keep.