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Opinion: Americans must choose freedom, not dependency

President Obama and I have one thing in common: We are both the sons of immigrants. But the lessons we have learned from this common background, about freedom and opportunity and living out the American Dream, could not be more different. What makes us different is at the heart of the choice we have to make this November.

This is a nation of immigrants and risk-takers — men and women who have stories of sacrifice and family members who worked under nearly impossible conditions to make a better way for their children.

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Still today, there are millions of Americans who desire to work and who want a better future for their families. From communities large and small, and businesses of all sizes, I believe it is the work ethic of middle America that is the backbone of this country. Yet jobs continue to disappear.

In these difficult economic times, we have two parties offering very different solutions to the challenges so many working families face. Obama’s economic policies are hurting families, whole communities and manufacturing, the sector of our economy that made America great. These businesses provide opportunities and jobs for Americans looking to provide for their families and move up the income ladder. We need to return to economic policies that promote growth and unleash the potential of our manufacturing workers and entrepreneurs. By expanding freedom and limiting government excesses and regulations, “Made in America” can be commonplace again.

But sadly, it turns out that the vision and agenda behind Obama’s “hope and change” message was not to bring America together through our common bond of freedom and opportunity but to push us back into a culture of big government and dependency. Rather than using the power of the presidency to honor and reinforce our founding principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Obama’s “Great Society” mentality is stifling America. The freedom and opportunity that drew wave after wave of immigrants to our shores is being undermined.

In 2008, Obama campaigned as a passionate promoter of “hope and change.” But it wasn’t a passion for genuine tolerance. It was a passion for yielding to the solutions of the state rather than respecting the roles of family, faith, community and free enterprise.

Nor was it a passion for expanded opportunity and upward mobility — it was a passion for putting more people on Medicaid and food stamps.

And it wasn’t a passion for energy security or independence from those who do not share our values — it was a passion for the left’s energy solutions, for non-existent green jobs and lobbying cronyism.

And it wasn’t a passion for returning America to fiscal responsibility — it was a passion for kicking the can down the road and increasing irresponsibly the burden of debt on future generations. It’s been three years running now with no budget from Senate Democrats. No wonder they don’t want a balanced-budget amendment. They don’t even want a budget!

And finally, it wasn’t a passion for America to be stronger, safer and more respected around the world and to honor the sacrifice of our veterans. It was a passion for apologizing for America and deferring to those who oppose America and undermining our allies.

In Obama’s world, retreat is victory no matter what is left behind. In Obama’s world, the fundamental tenants of radical Islam — violent jihadism, the oppression of women and the violation of freedom of conscience and religion — are inconveniences rather than affronts to American values.

Our vision for America is different. Our vision for America is the heart of America. It’s passion for freedom. It’s passion for liberty. Give us your tired, huddled masses yearning to be free. Give us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a virtuous society. This is the America that our forefathers have fought and died for. We don’t believe in dependency, we believe in freedom. We don’t believe in the decline of America, we believe in the greatness of America.

Now is the time for us to carry the torch of freedom. We have one choice this November. We either choose freedom or we choose something less than that, an ObamaNation — a path to decline, a path to dependency. As for me and my house, we choose freedom. We choose Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Santorum is a former congressman and senator from Pennsylvania. He was a candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2012. He is the founder of Patriot Voices.