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Trump offers not fear, but an America of our own choosing

By in Press Enterprise on February 5, 2018

By Susan Shelley

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series on the State of the Union. Read another perspective here.

The state of the union is divided.

It was apparent to even the most casual viewer of the president’s speech in the House chamber Tuesday night. Republicans jumped to their feet and applauded. Democrats sank into their chairs and sat on their hands.

That’s typical of a State of the Union address, but this year there was something different about it. The divisions were more than reflexively partisan. They represented sharply different views of the proper role of government in our lives, and different philosophies about the human condition.

Do we have control over our lives and the power to make meaningful choices? Do our individual actions determine our fate?

Or are we destined by the circumstances of our birth to a path that is pre-determined by conditions beyond our control?

If the course of our lives is determined by our race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or some other characteristic not of our own choosing, then no matter what we do, we cannot change our destiny. If that’s the way it is, we are essentially all victims, and the government’s offer of protection is very attractive.

But if we have volition, the power to make our own choices and steer our own course, then what we need is not more government, but more freedom.

And if that’s the way it is, most people can get along just fine without Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

They can also do without Joseph Kennedy III, who described the daily life of Americans with these words: “You drag your weary bodies to that extra shift so that your families will not feel the sting of scarcity.”

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