While full of details that will lead to prayerful concern about the future of the world’s greatest nation, Marc Nuttle’s “Moment of Truth” (Front Line: 241 pages with references and index, $21.99) also overflows with assurance that individuals can make a difference, and that America’s best days might still lie ahead.
Reading about the economic and political signs of our times can be a despair-inducing experience. Yet this new book from Oklahoma’s most respected national political consultant and analyst brims with hope and radiates a rational confidence needed in challenging times.
In a clear manner, Nuttle catalogues how cultural trends are changing our way of life. He states in no uncertain terms what many are saying in homes, churches, and boardrooms across America. In these days, "many people feel a measure of uncertainty about our nation’s future."
No other recent author has delivered such a readable, focused and graceful overview of American problems, and with such an unrivaled, measured and purposeful methodology. Nuttle’s writing compares favorably to great rhetorical calls to arms from the past, including Ronald Reagan’s prescient 1964 speech for Barry Goldwater, and William Simon’s “A Time for Truth.”
Nuttle outlines stressful influences in state and nation, and the impact of world developments on individuals, communities and the American psyche. Whatever one’s personal political preferences, there is comfort in Nuttle’s analytical description of the crisis of confidence many citizens feel. He argues that our nation is at the culmination of a normal political and cultural progression, a “forty year cycle” from despair (the 1960s) to confidence (the 1980s). And no we have reached the prelude to – whatever comes next. His point is that we can choose what comes next.
This year’s election, he says, "will determine what this nation will be and who we will become as a people from this year forward." We hear that every election, but this year it’s all there: from bitter cultural and moral divisions and crushing burdens of regulatory law and taxes, to the shock of technological change and the horrid intrusiveness of government and media in daily living. Leavening the depressing details is Nuttle’s determination that, with thought and care, we can do better as individuals and as a nation.
Nuttle calls for personal introspection and communal deliberation about how our government has lost sight of the people’s best interests, explains what we need to do to get back on track, provides a framework for clarifying each reader’s personal “grid” for policy and politics, and outlines the need for a new assessment of national priorities.
As the book’s jacket make clear, Nuttle is unrelenting in assailing the addiction of government to spending, and the tendency of power to corrupt and undermine American greatness. Yet he outlines how to retain government as an asset, not a ruler, to forge the necessary balance between liberty and law, and to discern the limits of good intentions.
Nuttle relates a few endearing stories about his friend Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, who wrote "Nothing is inevitable about the course of history; however it may appear in retrospect. Because we live in a largely free society, we tend to forget how limited is the span of time and the part of the globe for which there has ever been anything like political freedom; the typical state of mankind is tyranny, servitude, and misery."
As Nuttle points out, Friedman went right to the heart of the great issues of our day. Freedom is a rare and precious jewel in human history, a treasure "to be protected at all costs and handed down to the next generation with loving care."
An experienced veteran of political warfare and international diplomacy, Nuttle has effectively dealt with the national news media for decades. While candidly documenting examples of liberal bias, Nuttle repeatedly demonstrates that many reporters are, like those they cover, seeking truth.
In one memorable exchange, a previously friendly journalist describes Nuttle as a liar. Naturally, this shreds their relationship. Yet Nuttle refused to close the door on reconciliation. Their eventual return to respect and friendship is not only a triumph for Nuttle, it is a fresh and contemporary revelation of the eternal power of forgiveness. Those active in politics and policy disputes will find endless sagacity in these pages.
Nuttle’s call for deep thought and discussion about our immediate political decisions are compelling as we prepare to vote in an election that could affect us and our children in ways we have only suspected, or feared, in the past. Nuttle is centered in the sunny tradition of Ronald Reagan. He is filled with happiness and hope, giving a plan of action to prevent circumvention of our freedoms, to counter increased abuses of power by privileged officials, and to bridge gaps that have polarized us as a society in areas such as religion, politics, and even the meaning of truth itself.
Few Americans and even fewer Oklahomans have counseled political leaders in every corner of the world, and fewer still have distilled their experiences into as many golden nuggets of wisdom as Nuttle. His account of one experience in Asia gives the reader great food for thought in understanding the broad tides of history.
In conversation with a Chinese official, Nuttle is asked how he would define freedom. Citing the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and an elaborating on the rule of law, Nuttle felt as if he had defended his country properly. However, the Chinese secretary replies with "That’s nice … but one of our definitions is ‘the right not to starve to death.’" The Chinese official also asked Nuttle how he thought democracy was doing, but as he tried to give a sophisticated answer, the fellow interrupted him and said "Marc, it’s a trick question. The correct answer is: It’s too soon to tell!"
Fair enough, but this encounter between a country with more than six thousand years of history to one with little more than two hundred lends perspective. Nuttle was defiant and admirable in defending the history of the world’s greatest experiment in self-government that has served the people. He is right that our democratic Republican is living proof that freedom works, and a model for future governments. Yet, we live in a world of contrary values.
Lest we forget, China is still very much under Communist political control. Even as it emerges with its own stunning economic growth and prepares to host the Olympics, China continues to threaten brave little Taiwan, and to punish internal dissenters with jail and even death for exercising basic and cherished freedoms such as free speech.
Nuttle explores the consequences of political choices made in the past that have led us toward a more European-style, socialist economy. He lays out a plan of action for recovery of liberty through reasoned defense of American traditions. Nuttle’s insight into growing trends toward those European models comes from his up front and personal experiences abroad. While he credits America’s city, county and state governments for having the "best of intentions," he points out that they are adopting policies that will ultimately lead to higher taxes and a reduction in cherished constitutional rights. Federal officials, he writes, are "allowing the nation to slip toward the European model of a centrally controlled economy at a frightening pace."
In the end, this book is interactive. Early on, Nuttle provides a series of questions that might help individual readers determine their own political and cultural philosophy. Late in the work, he outlines areas of policy concern, and describes 12 steps that help a reader fashion his or her own “moral imperative” for direct involvement in restoring national greatness. Via the worldwide web, Nuttle draws the reader into what will no doubt be continuing and broadening dialogue about personal purpose and national goals, providing a code inside the cover jacket that allows access to his web site.
Nuttle’s devotion to faith, family and a better America shine through in his descriptions of the type of leaders our country needs.
For those who have lost faith in government, those who feel the world has outgrown their vote, and for those who simply need a "how to" on how to get involved for positive change, this is a must read. (Click here for the Amazon listing.)
About the author: Pat McGuigan is an editor at The City Sentinel, a weekly newspaper in Oklahoma City. He is a regular contributor to Tulsa Today since 2002 and once served as our Capital Editor – a position we hope McGuigan will fill again some day soon. This essay first appeared in Perspective magazine, the monthly publication of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. firstname.lastname@example.org