Self-reliance is alive and well. That’s the silver lining in last Tuesday’s election.
Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute writes, “Asked if government does too much or should do more, exit polls showed that voters said ‘too much’ by a margin of 51 percent to 44. Voters certainly seem receptive to a small-government message, at least in some respects, even when what appears to be somewhat more liberal and Democratic electorate is being polled,” (full disclosure: Becky and I are Cato Institute benefactors). If anything, self-reliance was reawakened last Tuesday.
Self-reliance is what my kids’ teachers stress at parent-teacher conferences. They tell Becky and me to let them struggle through their homework on their own. The gift they receive is personal achievement. The gift to us is tears and frustration and a lot of pushback for being mean and not helping. But they need to learn to rely on themselves for the answers to their problems.
Because sometimes there won’t be any help. Where was all the help so many needed after Hurricane Sandy?
I was speaking with a client in the midst of the storm. After the storm, she left her apartment building because she could not handle 15 flights of stairs in the dark with her two dogs—one of whom is afraid of the dark. She had no running water, couldn’t flush the toilets, and couldn’t find a hotel that would take her dogs.
What do you do with your pets in a crisis in a city? When she finally found a hotel that allowed dogs, she struggled with the anxiety of being displaced again. Her room was already reserved for the marathoners coming to New York, and she would have been evicted if the race had gone on. No one was helping her. It was self-reliance that got her through a most difficult situation, both emotionally and physically. Finally, Mayor Bloomberg realized it was madness to hold the race.
The message is loud and clear. You need to be self-reliant. Government is incapable of caring for everyone. That’s why the spirit of smaller government lives on. Personal achievement and self-preservation are not dead.