As I traveled throughout the U.S. on my recent book tour, I kept running into people who would ask me, “Where is Steve Forbes? The economy is melting down. We need his economic expertise right now.”
I couldn’t agree more. Steve’s message in the 1990s of free market ways to create hope, growth and opportunity at home and abroad may have seemed too bold to the GOP establishment at the time. But it’s desperately needed today. His plan to scrap the corrupting federal tax code — “We need to take the tax code and kill it, drive a stake through it’s heart, bury it, and hope it never rises again to terrorize the American people” — and replace it with a simple flat tax that’s a real tax cut for American families and businesses is the right prescription for the the mess we’re now in. Steve was passionate about eliminating wasteful government spending, and eliminating pork barrel earmarks and ridiculous corporate welfare schemes. He had serious plans to advance market-based health care reforms where individuals and families get to choose their doctors, and market-based education reforms so that parents could choose the right schools for their children. In foreign policy, Steve was a strong proponent of missile defenses, and recognized the threat Russia and Iran were becoming before many others in Washington did.
The problem is that few in Washington today seem to believe in such bold, dynamic reforms, or have the courage to advance them. I certainly don’t hear any of the potential 2012 presidential candidates proposing such sweeping reforms to counter the President’s plan to rack up another $10 trillion in debt and socialize much of the American economy, notably the health care sector. As troubling, few are demonstrating Steve’s understanding of global trends and threats or insisting on missile defenses or a tougher stance towards Russia and Iran. Indeed, the biggest news the GOP makes these days are by politicians who have marital affairs and should resign but don’t, and successful governors who shouldn’t resign but do. What’s wrong with these people and this party?
Finally off the road from my book tour, I finally called Steve last week to catch up. The good news: he hasn’t disappeared. To the contrary, he’s spent the last few months working on a fabulous new book, Power, Ambition and Glory: The Stunning Parallels Between Great Leaders of the Ancient World and Today . . . and the Lessons You Can Learn. Last month, Steve embarked on a national media tour. He’s talking about the lessons we can learn from history’s most effective and provocative leaders and how we can apply those lessons to the challenges we face today. This week, the book hit the New York Times hardcover non-fiction best-seller list at #30. I hope it climbs much higher.
It’s a fascinating read. I’ve been most intrigued with the section on the Persian Empire and particularly the leadership of Cyrus the Great, the surprisingly tolerant leader of ancient Persia. It was Cyrus, Steve reminds us, who fulfilled the Bible prophecy by conquering the Babylonian empire, liberating the Jewish people, and giving the Jews permission to rebuild the holy city of Jerusalem and rebuild their Holy Temple. He also gave the Jewish people, among others, the freedom to worship God as their consciences led them, without fear of persecution. “With Babylon as part of his empire, Cyrus could boast he was ‘king of the world,’ and he pledged that all his subjects would be free to practice whatever religion they chosen. This promise was particularly significant for the Jews who had been enslaved when Nebuchadnezzar’s armies had taken Jerusalem…in 586 B.C.” He was, writes Forbes, “one of history’s most gifted leaders and his accomplishments are worth a deeper look.” What a stark contrast to the leaders who are running Iran today.
In case you’re curious, I had no part in writing this book, so it’s far better than you think! I highly recommend it, and I hope this book launch is just the beginning of Steve’s effort to re-engage in the battle of ideas. His message — and his perspective on history, and the future — is needed more than ever. With once-promising voices like Mark Sanford’s and Sarah Palin’s suddenly sidelined, it’s time for a wise and trusted voice to step back up to the microphone and inject some common sense conservatism back into the public debate.
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