Taking America Higher
President Obama wants America to raise its game by boosting investment in innovation and education. The best way for Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on a competitiveness agenda may be to hark back to the past.
By Michael Hirsh
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Mitch Daniels, Indiana?s Harley-riding, budget-slicing governor, is getting a lot of attention these days. But are people really listening to him? The diminutive Daniels hosts visits from other fiscally troubled Midwestern governors who want to learn from his methods?and reporters who want to know if he is angling to be the Republican nominee for president. Daniels?s mantra is that America is so fiscally overstretched and underinvested that the nation?s very survival could be in doubt. He thinks that the only way to really advance into the future is to leap back into the past?all the way to the mid-19th century, to be exact.
His favorite model? The old Whig Party that paved the way for the modern Republican Party and gave rise to GOP icon Abraham Lincoln (?the last Whig, and the first Republican,? as Daniels calls him). The Whigs were big on promoting national strength through investment in infrastructure. They also championed limited government, self-improvement, and personal freedom. Economics and national security were seamlessly united in their worldview, and government did have a role.
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