Monday, May 11, 2009


Mark Steyn has written a bitingly brilliant piece in which he dissects the idea that conservatism is over:
Well, of course it is. Everyone from James Carville to Colin Powell says so. “The Republican party is in deep trouble,” General Powell told some group willing to pay him serious money to deliver this kind of incisive insight. “Americans do want to pay taxes for services. Americans want more government in their lives, not less.”

Whether or not they want it, they’re certainly going to get it. And if you like big government now, just think how big it’ll be once both parties are fully signed up to the concept....

One of Powell’s more famous utterances was his rationale, after the 1991 Gulf War, for declining to involve the U.S. military in the Balkans: “We do deserts, we don’t do mountains.”

So I have no great regard for Powell’s strategic thinking, at home or abroad. As the general sees it, the Republican party ought to be a “big tent”: Right now, the tent is empty, with only a few “mean spirited” and “divisive” talk-radio hosts chewing the limbs off live kittens while gibbering to themselves. By comparison, over in the Democrat tent, they’ve got blacks, gays, unions, professors, Ben Affleck: diversity on parade.

In fact, the GOP’s tent has many poles: It has social conservatives, libertarians, fiscal conservatives, national-security hawks. These groups do not always agree: The so-cons resent the libertarians’ insouciance on gay marriage and abortion. The libertarians don’t get the warhawks’ obsession with thankless nation-building in Islamist hellholes. A lot of the hawks can’t see why the fiscal cons are so hung up on footling matters like bloated government spending at a time of war. It requires a lot of effort to align these various poles sufficiently to hold up the big tent....

Meanwhile, over in the other tent, they celebrate diversity with ruthless singlemindedness: In the Democrats’ parade, whatever your bugbear, government is the answer. Government is the means, government is the end, government is the whole magilla. That gives them a unity of purpose the GOP can never match.

And yet and yet . . .

...the washed-up loser no-hoper side managed to get 46 percent of the vote.

Okay, it’s not 51 percent. But still: Obama’s 53 percent isn’t a big transformative landslide just because he behaves as if it were.

To put it in Powellite terms, the general thinks the Republican party is in the desert, when in fact it’s climbing a mountain.

Conservatism, Steyn reminds us, does do mountains.

And, like Irving Stone's wonderful book which I read many years ago, and which describes the western expansion of the U.S. and the building of American society; conservatism is all about the expansion of freedom and the building of a civilization based on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It doesn't take much character or integrity to desire power over others; nor to get votes and pander to the basest aspects of human nature. It doesn't take much leadership to divide humanity up into various tribes and pit them against one another; or to appease the forces of death and oppression in the world. It doesn't take much intelligence to talk about "social justice" while enslaving the individual mind and delivering injustice on a grand scale.

In short, it doesn't take much self-delusion to con a leftist or a Democrat these days.

It takes free men and women of character, integrity, and purpose; reaching for galaxies to create a country like America. It takes the same kind of people to keep such a country and let it thrive. Instead, we have the morons in Congress--both Democrat and Republican--who increasingly believe that more government, and less freedom, is the answer to every problem.

We still have men and women in this country to match our mountains--and all the prairies, seas and stars; but they are increasingly demonized and vilified by those whose only goal is power over others.

Jonah Goldberg says that what the conservative movement needs is a "hero"; but what he is really talking about is
...a winning salesman or vessel for them, and that person doesn’t seem to exist right now. Again, I’m speaking to my fears, not my hopes.

On the bright side, nobody knew who the hell Barack Obama was the day before yesterday either.

The problem is that no one knows who he is today, either. It sort of reminds me of the scene in Pride and Prejudice where Lydia, after her rather disgraceful behavior with Wickham has brought considerable distress to her family is now married to him at great expense and grief; thoughtlessly prattles on and on about about how, now that she is married, she will get husbands for all her sisters. Elizabeth, the sensible one cannot help exclaiming, "[B]ut I do not particularly like your way of getting husbands!"

I don't particularly like the Democrats sleazy way of getting power back. Conservatism doesn't need a snake-oil salesmen (Lord knows, we have enough of them in Congress already); or an empty vessel waiting to be filled with whatever the liquid du jour happens to be... What it needs is leaders whose characters and vision are able to match the mountains of conservatism's ideal and values.

The Coming American
By Samuel Walter Foss (1858-1911)

Bring me men to match my mountains,
Bring me men to match my plains;
Men to chart a starry empire,
Men to make celestial claims.
Bring me men to match my prairies,
Men to match my inland seas;
Men to sail beyond my oceans,
Reaching for the galaxies.
These are men to build a nation,
Join the mountains to the sky;
Men of faith and inspiration,
Bring me men, bring me men, bring me men!
Bring me men to match my forests,
Bring me men to match my shore;
Men to guard the mighty ramparts,
Men to stand at freedom's door.
Bring me men to match my mountains,
Men to match their majesty;
Men to climb beyond their summits,
Searching for their destiny.
These are men to build a nation,
Join the mountains to the sky,
Men of faith and inspiration,
Bring me men, bring me men, bring me men!

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