In his lyrical and heartfelt introduction of his running mate, Governor Mitt Romney said one thing that particularly struck me. Romney spoke of Wisconsin Congressman and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's Midwestern background, and how it instilled in him a devotion and love of America. And then Romney said---in a brief biographical note---that Ryan's father had passed away when he was young.
That's when it hit me. The fall contest will be more Obama v. Ryan than Obama v. Romney. Obama and Ryan are the same generation, although Obama is several years older. They're both hip and cool. And they're both the intellectual leaders of their movements. The battle will be focused on the two personalities and the ideas and policies for which they stand.
That's why it struck me as incredibly telling that both men also had fathers who left them at an early age. Obama's father checked out and left the family when Barack was just a toddler. He later died in an alcohol-related car crash in Kenya, where he had returned to assist the socialist movement (advocating socialised medicine and a 100% tax rate). Ryan's father passed away when he was a teenager.
After losing their fathers, the men chose very different paths. Obama became a stoner, a leader of a dope group they nicknamed the "Choom Gang." Later he copped to doing "a little blow." As he's said himself, he went on to seek out the Marxist professors and students at school, became an Alinskyite rabble-rousing socialism advocate that went under the euphemism "community organizer," and befriended anti-American radicals such as Bill Ayers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Rashid Khalidi. After brief stints in the Illinois State Senate (where he voted "present" much of the time) and the U.S. Senate (where he was classified as the MOST liberal member, sitting to the left of the only admitted socialist, Senator Bernie Sanders), he became president and took the country on a redistributionist joyride, creating a tornadic path of destruction.
By contrast, when Ryan's father died, teenage Paul became the leader of his family. He took care of his grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, so his mother could go back to school in order to get a better job. He worked all hours to support his family, even working for Oscar Meyer selling hot dogs and Lunchables. Rumor has it he even drove the WeinerMobile. He went on to serve his community as the youngest member of Congress the year he was elected, rose to prominence for his intellectual rigor and honesty, and became the House Budget Chairman, a position from which he proposed two courageous and honest budgets to save America from fiscal ruin.
So let's see. Both boys faced the trauma of losing a father. One chose to be a professional grievance identifier, to traffic in teaching people to be victims, and to cultivate dependency on government. The other chose a path of self-suffiency for himself, his family, and the nation, a road of self-determination, independence, and freedom---in other words, the road the Founders so painstakingly gave each one of us.
When Obama speaks of the "fundamental transformation" of the nation, he means remaking America in the image of his father's socialist dreams. When Ryan speaks of "fundamentally restoring" the nation, he means moving America back to the nation of HIS father, in which individual responsibility, limited government, fiscal sanity, and economic freedom prevailed.
These are the competing visions for America. And they both began with men who disappeared from their sons' lives so many years ago and gave them their animating spirits. The fate of the country will rest with which path we choose on November 6.