Election Day was an affirmation of many good things about America, among them, what President Bush has called “liberty’s century.”
It is my guess, at this middle point in his presidency, that this glorious phrase will be Bush’s most remembered. It will be most remembered because it will be most accurate as a description of America’s legacy in this century. For I believe, with the president, that America is on the verge of new success with old ideals.
“To everything we know there is a season,” said Bush at September’s Republican National Convention, “a time for sadness, a time for struggle, a time for rebuilding. And now we have reached a time for hope. This young century will be liberty’s century.”
If the 19th century was the century of slavery, and the 20th the century of ideological totalitarianism, the 21st shall be the century of freedom. Though people who know reality cannot expect it to belong to liberty exclusively – and if we envision a utopia we won’t have freedom at all. We can hope and dream that it will be a century devoid of the monstrosities that have defined the past century.
Bush explained his agenda for Liberty’s Century thus: “By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world. By encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful America. Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom. This is the everlasting dream of America.”
We may take some comfort, in the aftermath of the election, that we have political leaders who place some value on liberty. Yet we are not at ease t assume that all of our battles for liberty are won. Nor may we count on our leaders to win them all on our behalf. We may not now withdraw ourselves from the struggle to secure the future.
It is a struggle that will require the most ardent efforts of a generation. For the thing we must seek first is not liberty; we already have that. We must first seek to reclaim our responsibility.
No president or Congress can grant responsibility to the American people, and thus they cannot bless us with liberty. Our duty comes from God. To Him we are accountable. From Him come our blessings in exchange for the fulfillment of our duties.
In our capacity as individuals, made in the image of God and inheritors of a mighty body of principle and culture, we must win back responsibility for this generation. Before we are to consider it Liberty’s Century, we must demand of ourselves that it be Responsibility’s Century.
The heaviest burden of responsibility rests upon young Americans.
Michael Moore, overjoyed at Bush’s re-election that his career as a Bush Hater may last another four years, has declared that America’s 18- to 29-year-olds – 51.6 percent of which voted last Tuesday – are the best sign of hope for the left because 55 percent of young voters cast ballots for Kerry.
Michael Moore, who is now labeling Bush Country “Jesus Land,” predicts a youth uprising now that Bush has won re-election.
“What you are about to see in the coming months is going to shock you. These kids aren’t going away. They have a resilience that cannot be snuffed out by older people’s whining and moaning about the state of America. THEIR America has yet to be formed as they see it.”
For once, I agree with Michael Moore. There is a shocking resilience and optimism in our generation that has not yet been expressed. But when this generation finally emerges politically, culturally, and spiritually, it will be and must be the kind of generation who are dedicated to responsibility, who love liberty as only patriots do.
And I contend that we shouldn’t look for America’s future in the exit polls. It is true that this generation isn’t as political as our parents were in the 1960s and 1970s. The truly significant trends of what has been called the Millennial Generation are a rising commitment to traditional faith, the growing rejection of relativism, the renewed commitment to the family, and a bold expression of cultural conservatism amongst college and university students.
We witness a strong minority movement taking shape. It is a conservative youth rebellion – an oxymoron and the key to our future.
Liberty’s Century is the prospect for America. George W. Bush can, and he ought to, inspire us to make it a reality. But it is only in our capacities as individuals, in families and schools and communities, that we can truly take back America through a renewal of moral responsibility.
It is in the hearts and minds of this generation that Liberty’s Century will be fulfilled.
Hans Zeiger is a Seattle Sentinel columnist and conservative activist. He is a student at Hillsdale College in Michigan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.