Delivered by Jeff Hewitt, Elected Libertarian
Board of Supervisors, Riverside County, Calif.
The Constitution requires that the president “shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union.” This is one of the simplest and least controversial provisions in the document. But surprise! Republicans and Democrats struggle to agree even on that.
The Libertarian Party is happy to pick up where the old parties fail, so we thought it would be fitting to offer some information you won’t hear in the torrent of doom and gloom from our nation’s capital.
Across the country, Americans are finding new ways to work together, to prosper, to help each other and to help themselves. New technologies and new markets give us a standard of living that in past centuries the most powerful of kings could have only dreamed of. Voluntary exchange and innovation have given all of us new ways to learn, to communicate, to travel, to heal ourselves, and to heal our world.
Democratic and Republican politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump try to frighten Americans by pronouncing disaster after disaster, which they say only they can save us from. Instead of listening to those fear tactics, let’s consider how far we have come.
Within living memory, we have seen modern medicine save untold millions from diseases that would have previously been a death sentence. We have seen an agricultural and technological revolution save billions from the threat of famine and starvation. The cost of shipping goods across the world has decreased dramatically, enabling amazing new levels of prosperity and interconnectedness. We have expanded the circle of humanity to embrace the natural rights of people who were previously beaten down by centuries of oppression. We have brought the world together with awe-inspiring new kinds of communications technology, and made computers so affordable that countless people can carry one in their pocket.
Here in America, violent crime rates have plummeted by 74 percent since their peak in 1993 and our standards of living have risen. And across the globe, we are on the verge of making extreme poverty a distant memory. Since 1990, 1 billion people have transcended extreme poverty.
These things are no accident. It is not a coincidence that the human experience has improved more in the last 100 years than in the many thousands of years preceding. We have developed the principles and institutions that make this progress possible. We have made arbitrary political power subject to the rule of law, protected individual human rights to property and contract, and come closer to the true meaning of our nation’s creed, that all of us “are created equal,” endowed “with certain unalienable Rights,” including “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Of course, things are still far from perfect. Too often, governments continue to violate our rights and hinder our progress. Old-party politicians seek to divide us by nationality, by race, by religion, by gender and sexuality, and by any other means they can think of to create categories of people whose rights somehow matter less than the rest of ours. Libertarians say: All Americans should be equal before the law.
Our federal government lacks fiscal discipline. Our national debt has skyrocketed to almost $22 trillion. That’s a massive burden for all of us, at more than 164 thousand dollars per household! Politicians have mortgaged our future to pay for out-of-control, bloated government. Libertarians say: It is not acceptable for politicians to rack up this kind of debt.
We have created an army of interfering bureaucrats. This brings to mind the charge leveled against King George in the Declaration of Independence: “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.” Libertarians say: We want the government to leave you alone.
At airports across the nation, TSA agents engage in absurd security theater, groping travelers and wasting our time while doing little to make us any safer. An array of intelligence agencies such as the NSA continue their unconstitutional mass spying on Americans. Libertarians say: Restore our privacy! End the surveillance state!
Across the world, our sons and daughters have been deployed to far-flung, never-ending wars without constitutional authorization. This year, the first Americans born after 9/11 will deploy to our war in Afghanistan. Libertarians say: Never-ending wars make Americans less safe. It is time to focus on diplomacy.
At our Southern border, government agents have committed acts of cruelty that shock the conscience in pursuit of the counterproductive and futile goal of controlling the free movement of people. America’s immigration bureaucracy has become an authoritarian monstrosity, aimed not just outward at would-be immigrants but also inward at American citizens. The prohibition of immigration requires an extensive apparatus for mass surveillance and government intrusion into our daily interactions. Libertarians say: The United States should welcome immigrants.
In our prisons, hundreds of thousands are behind bars for no just reason at all. These are the victims of mass incarceration, a misbegotten “tough on crime” and “war on drugs” mentality that punishes people who have harmed nobody, thus devastating communities and destroying lives in the process. Assembly-line justice makes a mockery of our constitutional rights. Coercive plea bargaining has turned the sacred right to a jury trial into a rarely seen farce. And the absurd proliferation of laws has made criminals of us all. Libertarians say: Too often, our justice system is a system of injustice. It is a stain on this nation’s conscience … a moral crisis of our time.
Libertarians stand against these injustices, and for the proposition that Americans deserve better. While Republicans and Democrats careen toward socialism and fascism, Libertarians stand for the timeless principles of justice; the self-evident truths of individual freedom; and the rights of every person to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Americans are better than our current government. With your help, and with your support, Libertarians can provide a way out from the current politics of fear and division. We offer fiscal sanity, restrained government, and a live-and-let-live approach. Our ideas represent what is best about America.
Libertarian officeholders are already working to improve lives and implement real solutions, in offices like the one I hold, on the Riverside County, Calif., Board of Supervisors, or on the town councils and local boards of places like Copperton, Utah; Burnsville, Minn.; and Altamonte Springs, Fla. In these and many other jurisdictions, elected Libertarians are already hard at work cutting taxes, slashing red tape, shrinking government, and offering thoughtful, pragmatic solutions to day-to-day problems.
We’re here to offer Americans a better option, from the top of the ballot to the bottom of the ballot, from the smallest of local offices to the president of the United States. It’s that dedication that has made us America’s fastest-growing political party.
We invite you to join us, as we seek peace, prosperity, and liberty for every American. Thank you.