Owens: Time for the Silent Majority to lead with American Optimism – Empower Wisconsin

May 26, 2021

By Ryan J. Owens

America’s future is bright. No matter the challenge, we persevere and thrive.

Today, however, we are engaged in an existential battle that will determine whether our country, born in the cradle of freedom and dedicated to liberty, will survive. Some question the legitimacy of our American institutions. Others challenge the economic liberties we have so long enjoyed. And still, others want to take our freedoms away in the name of misguided concepts that, while sounding good, lead to tyranny.

We, the silent majority, have a different perspective. And it is our time to lead once again.

We want our leaders to defend America. To stand up, unabashedly, for its inherent goodness. To provide optimistic leadership that will spur us on to success. To unite us as Americans.

There is, after all, so much to love about our American ideals.

Our country’s foundational documents provide inspiration all over the world and should continue to inspire us all. The Mayflower Compact, which, for the first time, formed a government contractually by the consent of the governed, was revolutionary when written in 1620. It set the stage for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Likewise, the Declaration of Independence laid bare our national consciousness. It described and describes the goals for which we strive, reminding us always how we can improve. By declaring that we are all created equal and endowed with unalienable rights, that document made us exceptional.

Our Constitution was among the most ingenious documents ever created. Three separate branches would compete for power. And while they fought, we remained free. When the constitution retained states as key holders of power, it ensured that an overbearing and unfamiliar federal government would not amass the power to snuff out our liberties.

Our American ideals are strong and good. We should wear them proudly.

We also should be proud that America is a place for economic liberty. We need our leaders to remember and support that.

For those who attack our economic liberties as somehow exploitative, consider this: immediately after Frederick Douglass escaped slavery, he took a paying job and marveled at the fact that, as a free man, he earned his own wages. He had become self-sufficient. No longer did he work for another person. He owned his labor. He negotiated a fair wage. And when payday came, his economic liberty meant a broader liberty.

Economic liberty was critical to him.

Economic liberty means that each of us can undertake something of value. We put our labor into and reap the benefits of our work.  We are free to pursue the good life. When we earn our way, we are truly free.

Our leaders must remember that.

And so to maintain those economic liberties, we must reduce the tax burden on individuals and businesses, reduce licensing requirements that stifle innovation, remove bureaucratic red tape that limits innovation, and stop the government from picking winners and losers. Do that, and you free the American worker to compete successfully anywhere and with anyone.

We also need leaders who can, once again, speak the language of freedom. We hear so often about the limitations of American life today. But what are the freedoms for which we stand? For which we should stand? They are simple.

We believe that people should be able to speak freely and without reserve.

We believe that the government must not intrude on a person’s relationship with God.

We believe that people have the right to self-defense and to arm themselves against attacks against them.

We believe in free, fair, and secure elections.

We believe in educational liberty and the right of parents to send their children to a school of their choice, dictated not by where they live or who controls political power.

We believe that our educational institutions have been remarkable, but are now out of balance, commandeered by people more interested in a particular ideology than critical thinking, and that we need to restore them back to health.

We believe in the rule of law and that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law.

We believe that the rule of law always trumps lawlessness.

We believe that our law enforcement and first responders represent the best of us and need our resources and our support.

We believe that each person is sovereign upon birth and gives to his or her government limited authority, authority to act only insofar as that government is republican in form and controlled by frequent elections. Any government that violates such an arrangement is inherently illegitimate.

We believe in supporting the unborn and oppose attempts to end life unnecessarily.

We believe in personal responsibility and that each person has a God-given fire burning inside of them to choose right or wrong. And while circumstances and context can lead good people to make bad decisions, people ultimately are responsible for their actions.

Americans have risen to every challenge they face. We’ve done so with pragmatism, optimism, and little fanfare. That’s what makes the silent majority so strong. That silent majority must once again rise to the challenge and show the world–and our neighbors–why we should be proud to be Americans.

Ryan J. Owens is an attorney, a constitutional conservative, a professor, and the former director of the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also a Republican candidate for Attorney General in Wisconsin. He writes this in his personal capacity.

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