Why Conservatives Should Cheer Up
“Barack Obama won because he recognized a new America.” Or maybe an America more fluid, more insubstantial than post-election wisdom is ready to grant. You can't always tell about “new” – a truth the human race rarely acknowledges.
We'll see whether James Carville's and Stan Greenberg's words from a Democracy Corps survey stand up better than the consensus of November 1965, following the Lyndon Johnson-led slaughter of almost every Republican downwind from Barry Goldwater. Johnson, father of the Great Society, was all but run out of Washington on a rail after mucking up the Vietnam War.
Meanwhile, as everyone these days seems to know, the unstoppable alliance of unmarried women, young people, Hispanics and Blacks is set to remake America: the minute Americans agree on what a remade America ought to look like.
“There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip” is the indicated adage for now, notwithstanding that polls such as Carville's and Greenberg's seem to confirm the birth of a new alliance committed to wealth redistribution and big government.
The so-called “Rising American Electorate” appears to hanker for, among other things, larger investments in education, “protection” of Social Security and Medicare and fairness for women. Thomas B. Edsall, in the New York Times, calls attention to a Pew Research Center poll showing rising support for socialism as the remedy for capitalism.
Yes, yes, fine. Let's see how it all works out. To put it another way: Let's see what works out in practice and not just post-campaign rhetoric. The instant temptation, from the conservative side, is to go all weepy at such news. I would counsel resistance to such temptation: this, for a couple of reasons.
–The alliance of “Rising American Electorate” members is not necessarily based on congruence of interests. The young may be the shakiest element of the alliance for economic reasons. When you're earning $20,000 a year – or living at home – it may seem well to call for expropriation of the bloated plutocrats. The genius of America, nonetheless, has always been the elevation of the low-income earner to the higher tax brackets. To redistribute widely would be to overthrow the American premise of entitlement to the fruits of one's work and enterprise. Are we there yet? I see no persuasive evidence.
–Then what's all these nonsense about hiring another 100,000 teachers? Meaning, another 100,000 members of the teachers unions, whose troops have carried American public schools to such celestial heights? “Protect” Social Security and Medicare? Without affecting economies as to cost and eligibility? That should do a lot of good. And without – gulp! – burdening taxpayers with slimmer means than the two left-wing Georges – Soros and Clooney?
Shall we try socialism? What a great idea – Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela as our models and pole stars! Ought to be an effective formula for weight loss.
A continuing problem with left-wingery – a problem not grasped by some of the analysts – is that it doesn't work. Socialists, as Maggie Thatcher astutely observed, always run out of other people's money. They can't replace it of course with their own. Socialism isn't about creating wealth; it's about grabbing someone else's.
Republicans need to cheer up. It always hurts to lose a vital election: for instance, the one immediately past. And yet to victors sometimes belongs something more depressing than spoils; namely, the obligation to make good on lame, idiotic promises. Might we hold the national obituaries pending proof that the 2012 outcome was the will of the gods?
In the short run, what about a little indignant and forceful resistance, according to the American tradition, as exemplified 70 years ago by “Uncle Joe” Stilwell while the Allies reeled from a near knock-out by the Japanese? “I claim we got a hell of a beating,” Joe told the press. “We got run out of Burma and it is humiliating as hell. I think we ought to find out what caused it, go back and retake it.” And you know what? We did just that.
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