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April 10th, 2012

Why I’m Running: Restoring the Generational Compact

Written by Ben Lange, Candidate for U.S. Congress (IA-01)

On Saturday, April 26th, 1777, a 41-year-old John Adams, while serving in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, wrote to his wife Abigail of 12 years:

“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”

Adams was writing to Abigail, but he speaks to us.

From the beginning, American society has been bound together by an unspoken yet understood generational compact upon which the long arc of societal progress has depended.

Under this compact, each generation has sought to create the conditions for the next generation to live better than the last.

Our founders pursued a violent revolution to attain self-determination for future generations and what would become the foundational principles of American law and society. They shed blood for independence in order to establish liberty, and liberty to pursue virtue.

“Liberty can no more exist without virtue and independence than the body can live and move without a soul,” wrote Adams in 1775, prior to American Independence.

Indeed, our founding legal charter was premised on the assumption that the pursuit of virtue (interchangeable at that time with the “pursuit of happiness”) would be the guiding light of the American people.

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people,” Adams wrote nearly a decade after ratification. “It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

But were Adams witnessing the current condition of our American society, the quality of our modern political leadership, and certain expositions being articulated on the floor of the U.S. Congress and inside the White House (of which he was the first resident), we could expect even he to concede Thomas Paine’s point in Common Sense (which Adams once described as “a poor, ignorant, malicious, short-sighted, crapulous mass”) that “we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.”

For if virtue was hereditary, the American people would have expected our political leadership to have adhered to Thomas Jefferson’s admonition long ago that, “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes; a principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”

They have not.

Instead, we have watched in disbelief as the current generation of political leadership has permitted and tolerated our national debt to skyrocket to more than $15.5 trillion, one-third of which is held by foreign governments whose national interests are not our own.

Politicians now borrow 40% of every dollar spent by the federal government on the backs of my three little girls – ages 1, 3, and 5 – indebting them to the tune of $150,000 before they can even ride a bike.

We are witnessing one of the most profound moral failures and social injustices in American history – perpetrated not by one race against another race, nor by one class against another class, but by one generation against the next.

The current generation of political leadership, guided by vision that extends no  further than their snouts and marked by a grade of cowardice foreign to the American experience, has all but declared war on the next generation.

In this war, however, the invaders face no resistance from a population who cannot yet know and cannot yet speak of the atrocities being committed.

Who will be their voice for justice? Who will speak truth to power?

Who will help defeat these politicians that slither into lives of privilege and prestige, sit on their hands as our debt increases by billions of dollars per day, deny they are to blame, tell us it cannot be fixed, scare the masses, and then throw pebbles at the feet of those of us who dare to challenge them.

Can we not find a more brilliant example of such a politician than Congressman Bruce Braley (D-IA), a devoted leftist who has mastered the politics of division and deflection and who distracts the masses from the social injustice he is perpetrating.

Consider his votes:

  • Voted for trillion dollar deficits that have nearly doubled our national debt.
  • Voted to increase the national debt limit seven times without cuts.
  • Voted against a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • Voted to bailout big corporations on the backs of the working class.
  • Voted for a de facto government takeover of health care.
  • Voted against free trade agreements to increase domestic exports.
  • Voted against energy exploration to increase supply and lower gas prices.
  • Voted for cap-and-trade to impose unnecessary costs on small businesses.

The truth is, according to a report issued last week by the Government Accountability Office, Bruce Braley and the current generation of political leadership have failed to address “the fundamental drivers of the government’s future fiscal imbalances.”

The GAO reached the same conclusion it has reached for years, “Federal deficits and debt have reached historic highs … [and] the federal government is on an unsustainable long-term fiscal path.”

So what are we going to do about it?

For my part, I’ve decided to run for Congress because the current generation of political leadership, including Bruce Braley, has broken the generational compact and put future generations of Americans at risk of total financial collapse.

Instead of solving the defining issue of our time, these politicians are stuck fighting old battles, repeating stale arguments, fanning the flames of division, stumbling over their own legislative incompetence, and, whenever possible, using the coercive power of the state to impose their values on the rest of us.

The time has come for a new generation of leadership that will restore the generational compact by solving our nation’s debt crisis, while promoting a legislative agenda rooted not in the coercive power of the state, but in the liberty of individuals to pursue virtue.

Having traveled to every county in the new 1st congressional district and listened closely to voters of all political stripes, I believe that – absent misinformation and deflection from manipulative entrenched politicians – we, as ordinary Iowans, inevitably arrive at a common understanding of the long-term fiscal problems we face, the injustice being perpetrated, and the common sense solutions that are required, including, among other things:

  1. A balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution that requires Congress to limit projected expenses to projected revenue, with reasonable exceptions.
  2. Restructuring federal entitlement programs that are fiscally unsustainable for the benefit of future generations.
  3. Replacing Obamacare with a patient-centered model that addresses rising health care costs by reducing market distortions and providing greater transparency, competition, and choice for patients.

Whether we are successful or not will depend not only on me, but on you. In a republic, the power is with the people and with this power comes duty. We have a duty to pursue justice, recalling the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.”

And we, as a society – men and women, young and old, black and white, Republican and Democrat – must rise together and be the voice for the voiceless.

If not us, then who?

If we, as a people, choose not to change course, we will deserve the government we elect, the fate we have sealed, and the shame of squandering the blood of our ancestors and the very beacon of freedom for all mankind.

We would be wise to recall the remarks of Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1961, twenty years before his first presidential term:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it, and then hand it to them with the well thought lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don’t do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.”

I am prepared to lead this fight for liberty and justice in Iowa’s 1st congressional district and I ask for your support as we prepare the battlefield.

*To read more about Ben’s strategic priorities and positions, click here.


Ben Lange was the 2010 Republican Nominee for U.S. Congress in Iowa’s 1st congressional district. As a political newcomer with no prior campaign experience, Ben was characterized by the Quad City Times as a “long-shot congressional candidate” and the Des Moines Register reported that Braley had “little to fear in the general election.” Ben proved the naysayers wrong. After winning the Primary Election by 30 points, he united the Republican Party and, despite being outspent by Braley’s campaign committee nearly 5 to 1 in the General Election, Lange held Braley to less than 50% of the total vote and fell short by a mere 1.95% (46.52% to 48.47%). Today, Ben has established one of Iowa’s best organizational and financial campaign infrastructures. He has recruited a Steering Committee consisting of a broad coalition of activists, officials, and community leaders to help guide his candidacy, and he has earned the support of Republican state senators and state representatives throughout the district.

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About the Author

The Iowa Republican

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