We have never been a nation of haves and have-nots

This November, voters will finally have a chance to end President Obama’s assault on our free-enterprise system and send him packing from the White House. After years of watching voters across the country deliver stinging rebukes to supporters of his failed liberal policies, it is now Obama’s turn to face the voters. And his record is not one to be proud of.

Of course this president inherited a significant national debt, but over the last three years he’s made it worse by almost 50 percent For the first time since World War II, our debt is larger than our economy.

Of course this president inherited an economy where unemployment was too high, but over the last three years he’s made it worse. Today our unemployment rate is higher than the day he took office. And since he took over, it’s been stuck at over 8 percent each month.

While today he bemoans and blames Congress, Republicans and successful people for everything that’s wrong, the reality is that he and his party controlled the White House, Senate and House for his first two years in office. In that time, he got virtually everything he asked for, including a fiasco of a stimulus and ObamaCare.

The result? A debt-fueled over-expansion of government, unconstitutional and job-killing mandates, failed economic policies, broken promises and no plan to tackle our long-term challenges.

With this abysmal record, he will do whatever it takes to make this election about anything but his failed leadership. He is betting on a strategy that divides the American people into haves and have-nots, and uses class-warfare politics to prey on people’s uncertainty about the future.

In sum, he tells Americans worried about their jobs that the way to help them is to raise their bosses’ taxes. He tells those who are hurting that the only way they can be better off is for others to be worse off. He tells all of us that the only way for some to climb up the economic ladder is for others to be brought down.

These divisive ideas and rhetoric have never worked in the past. On the contrary, people end up fleeing countries that adopt economic policies based on these flawed principles. And, more often than not, they come to America.

As conservatives gather for CPAC this week, our movement must remember that winning in November will require us to unite behind candidates who offer what President Obama has failed to provide in three years: leadership and a clear understanding of what we need to do to remain an exceptional country.

We need leadership that helps America stop spending more money than we take in, saves our essential safety net programs before they go bankrupt, and produces fundamental tax and regulatory reforms to encourage the risk-taking go-getters in our economy to start new businesses or expand existing ones. Beyond our shores, we need foreign policy leadership that unapologetically defends our interests abroad and supports our friends.

The president desperately wants this presidential campaign to be a public spectacle of punishing and shaming success, with him as the ring leader. In reality, it will be a referendum on our economic heritage. It will be a choice between having a government that reaches deep into our economy and lives, or a limited government that trusts the free enterprise system to turn good ideas, risk-taking and hard work into jobs and prosperity.

We have never been a nation of haves and have-nots. We are a nation of haves and soon-to-haves—of people who have made it and people who will make it because they’re willing to work hard, play by the rules and have the ability to do so.

My faith in limited government and free enterprise has been forged throughout my life and is based on what I’ve seen with my own eyes.

I grew up in a family of modest means and was raised by parents who worked long hours to give my siblings and me a better life. My father was a bartender, and I thank God every night that there was someone willing to risk his money to build a hotel on Miami Beach and later in Las Vegas where he could work. I thank God that there was enough prosperity in America so people could go on vacation to Miami or Las Vegas, have events where he worked and put money in my dad’s tip jar.

It’s with that money that he raised us and gave me the opportunity to do things he never had a chance to do. And it was an abundance of prosperity that allowed us to afford a government that performed essential functions that, for instance, helped educate me through law school and ultimately helped take care of my parents in their later years.

The great thing about my story is that it’s not at all unique. Similar stories are unfolding every day in America, as they have for millions of people over the past two centuries.

Now the question before us is whether we are going to continue to be this exceptional country where stories like my family’s are commonplace, or if we are going to give this president four more years to keep taking this country in a direction that will make us more like the rest of the world.

For conservatives, this is our chance to once again lead the charge that began with historic victories in 2009 and 2010. Now, it’s our chance to ensure that 2012 is remembered as the year when we stopped President Obama’s “become like everyone else” agenda, and began doing what’s necessary to make this century another American Century.