Many conservatives are salivating at the prospect of the coming Congressional midterm elections. They think that a Republican takeover of the Senate is increasingly likely. Moreover, they are equally giddy about the 2016 Presidential election bringing not only a merciful conclusion to the Obama era, but also the arrival of a Republican president and the final defeat of Hillary Clinton. Finally, they are optimistic that Obama’s falling poll numbers herald a return to sanity by the American people and a reversal of the liberal trend in American politics. Are they kidding themselves?
Such optimism might have been warranted in 1920 upon the advent of the Harding-Coolidge administration following America’s first massive dose of progressivism at the hands of Woodrow Wilson. It might have been a reasonable anticipation in 1952 that Eisenhower would reverse the collectivist madness of the Roosevelt era. And yes it might sill have been sensible in 1980 when Reagan took the reins intent on overturning the “Great Society” and the other flourishes of leftist statism inflicted on the country during the 60s and 70s. Those periods of optimism were borne out to a limited extent by the actions of Coolidge and Reagan and the attendant reactions of the country – much less so in mid-century when Eisenhower made little attempt at a course correction regarding the New Deal. But today, more or less a century since the progressive infection began to corrupt American society, is there truly any reasonable chance that the malady – which has coursed throughout the political, cultural and economic veins of the nation – can be overcome?
The answer that I am about to give is pretty grim. But stay with me until the end when I inject a note of optimism – occasioned more by faith than reason. Anyway, let us take stock:
We have elected to the presidency a man with no executive or managerial experience, indeed with no significant accomplishments of any kind. This man’s main mentors all his life were communists, race baiters, violent radicals and corrupt politicians. His style of governing manages to combine divisiveness, mean-spiritedness, lawlessness and manifest incompetence. He has made no secret of his intention to recreate the United States as an internationally weak, equality-obsessed, unexceptional, centrally managed, social welfare state. His main accomplishment has been to convert the health insurance industry into a public utility. And we re-elected him! What does that say about the political savvy of the people of the United States of America?
Virtually all of the main opinion-forming organs of the country are controlled by progressives. This includes the media, educational system, universities, libraries, seminaries, legal profession, federal bureaucracy, much of the major corporate boardrooms, public sector unions and the foundations established by the “robber barons” in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Given the thorough brainwashing that the populace is subjected to, it is a miracle that any conservative thought survives. Yet polls indicate that 40% of the people self-identify as conservatives. But more than half of them have no idea what being conservative entails. I warrant that much less, certainly no more than 20% of the people have any understanding of how far the nation has drifted from its Constitutional moorings.
Since Reagan left the scene, the so-called conservative party in the US, that is, the GOP, has held seven presidential nominating conventions that anointed five different men. Not one of them is one-tenth as conservative as any of the five men the Dems nominated in that period is liberal. The extreme left wing has taken control of the Democratic Party, while hard core conservatives are often marginalized in the GOP. Prospects for a truly conservative nominee in 2016 are somewhat better than they’ve been since Reagan, but the likelihood of that happening is far from certain.
Our military has shrunk dramatically; our influence in the Middle East, Far East and Latin America has ebbed precipitously; we have managed to tick off all of our traditionally strongest allies (Great Britain, Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic, Saudi Arabia, even Canada); our enemies (Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, the Islamic Jihadists, and of course China and Russia) not only no longer fear us, but hold us in disdain. We have ceased to enforce the post WWII/Cold War Pax Americana and in the process rendered the world a much more dangerous place.
As a consequence, while in the Reagan years (and for a time thereafter), democracy and freedom were on the march in the world, in the last decade and a half, a tremendous reversal has occurred. From Latin America to Africa – reeling from our disengagement – many recently freed peoples of the world have seen their nations revert to statism, authoritarianism and tyranny.
Our Founders emphasized that that the Republic they created could only survive if the society was made up of individuals possessing high moral character. Now one man’s morals may be another’s taboos. But it is totally clear in retrospect what were the moral values that the Founders held up as exemplary: religious faith, individual responsibility, self-reliance, a robust work ethic, traditional family values, temperance, modesty, humility, respect for law and human life. The decay in American society in the prevalence of almost every trait in this list is too painful to contemplate.
Freedom of speech, thought and opinion is the very touchstone of the American experiment in individual liberty that the Founders established. And yet we live at a time when the atmosphere has been so poisoned by “political correctness” that the Founders would be aghast at the constraints on our freedom. It is true that no jack-booted thug is going to detain you for criticizing the High Priest Obama (although Dinesh Dsouza might quibble with that assertion), but the subtle, yet pervasive control of the public arena by the Left subjects those who hold conservative views to ridicule, calumny and demoralization. One of the most wholesome grass roots movements in the history of American society was the emergence of Tea Party groups. In short, these contained primarily folks, previously uninvolved in the political process, who believe that the government is too big and too powerful, that it oppresses the populace via excessive taxation and regulation, and who want to reassert their rights as free people. (Remind you of anything – perhaps 1776?) What could be more American? Yet Tea Partiers are vilified as racist Neanderthals who want to undermine all the “progress” America has made in the last century. The assault on the Tea Party is dastardly, disgusting and dangerous. The political atmosphere in the US is so poisonous that expressions of fealty to the ideals, which motivated the Founders of America, are viewed as almost traitorous.
The decline of America is ratified by the results in numerous surveys that measure freedom, opportunity and prosperity of various societies around the globe. In many of these, we have fallen from the top spot and even out of the top ten. Examples include measures of: political freedom, economic freedom, how easy/hard it is to start a business; the level of poverty; percentage of the population actively engaged in the work force; the national debt; and the debt or deficit as a percentage of GDP. For the time being, America remains an attractive palace and people from all over the world still want to come here. But the numbers don’t lie and there are already some unsettling signs that the most entrepreneurial people on the move are taking notice.
Finally, all of these concrete manifestations of a declining America in which conservatism has been routed are overlaid by a massive loss of self-confidence. Prominent American conservatives are wont to point out the crisis of confidence that has afflicted Europeans. The good folks of the continent – goes the argument – have surveyed their handiwork over the last century (two horrendous world wars, the Holocaust, colonial empires that pillaged native peoples) and decided that their culture (parts of which were sometimes known as Christendom and/or Western Civilization) was to blame. They have decided to shed it. They have disarmed, forsaken religion, renounced nationality, organized themselves into a centrally managed, softly tyrannical social welfare state, and flooded themselves with indigestible Muslim immigrants. The past glories of Spain, France, Germany, Austro-Hungary and Great Britain are a distant memory as the peoples of Europe have totally lost faith in the structures and ideals that helped them to create those past glories.
Well guess what! It’s taken a little longer for the disease to spread to the western hemisphere, but the US is now treading the same path. Led by the progressive-dominated organs outlined above, America is slowly but surely renouncing the structures and ideals of the Constitutional Republic bequeathed to us by our Founders.
In such an atmosphere and in light of all the previous points that I have made, how can a conservative not be kidding himself today when he anticipates a conservative renaissance in the USA? It is very hard to imagine how, but here is one way. Historians estimate that the percentage of the American colonists who were fully on board with the revolt against Great Britain was certainly less than 50% and quite possibly as low as 20-25%. That is to say, the percentage of the American population in 1775 that seriously supported the break from the mother country was about the same as the percentage who currently identify with the desire for renewed liberty à la the Tea Party. And yet the American Revolution occurred, and was successful. Is it too far-fetched to hope that history might repeat itself? Is it possible that Tea Party conservatives, being so totally fed up with the progressive garbage that is clogging up the arteries of the American bloodstream, will incite a successful counterrevolution against the progressive putsch that has taken control of the country? Might there not be a modern day Martin Luther King, who will address America from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, and with a ringing call to freedom, echoed by the words on the Memorial’s walls, summon all the people to recapture the liberty, the opportunity, the prosperity that has been stolen from us by progressives over the last century? One can only hope!
This essay appeared originally in Canada Free Press.