Re-elected president has opportunity to be great



For the Capital Press

The election dust is now settling, and we are all beginning to consider just what it means.

President Barack Obama has the potential to become a truly great president, given his political skills and his stated desire to unify this country and change our course. It will take much more than rhetoric and desire. He will need to fundamentally transform himself and his vision if he is going to make the leap to stand among the great ones of history.

For more than 20 years, we as a nation have been spending more than we earn, consuming more than we produce, using our credit cards, our homes, the Federal Reserve and other nations as our revolving lines of credit. We have focused so much on the superficial indicators of prosperity that we have forgotten where wealth comes from, how it is generated and the values that underlie true prosperity and happiness.

President Obama, for you to make this leap, you will need to sacrifice much of the goodwill that has built up among your most ardent supporters. You will need to reach deeply across the ideological spectrum, take the most practical ideas and craft them into policies that lead this nation toward economic and fiscal renewal. To wit,

* Recognize the importance of individual incentive as a driving force in both economic health and prosperity. Build this fundamental ethic into your economic and fiscal policies, and temper your tendency toward collectivism.

* Ease the regulatory burden so that our companies can again become competitive. Recognize that excessive environmental regulation in particular has become a self-serving monster, where rules are being enacted simply for the power they confer. Take note that the environmental movement has become a quasi-religion for many people, where reason and objectivity are being cast aside at any hint of so-called threats to the environment.

* Tackle the debt head on. This means placing limits on entitlement spending, downsizing government spending in line with economic reality, and carefully considering tax policy as it affects economic growth. Spend your political capital so our kids do not spend a lifetime paying down the debt that we have created.

* Put America's interests first. Do not trade what is in our best interest for the benefit of the multinational corporations, the United Nations or any other entity that would sway your decisions.

This moment in history will never come again.

You stand alone as someone who is capable of righting this great ship that we all love. With the grace of God, this is an opportunity for you to lead us toward a renewed and revitalized nation. Please do not let us down.

Denver Johnston works a small homestead in the mountains of northwestern California, and is active in the community where he lives.

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