Republicans have a historic necessity in 2010 to stop a fundamental realignment of the United States and preserve the nation of Washington and Lincoln. Americans have always found the right leader when we needed it most, and the sense of the electorate is that this is one of those dark times. The people took a chance on Barack Obama, and he has done the country a service, though perhaps not in the way he intended. Thanks in large part to him, the choice for Americans has never been so clear. This election and the one in 2012 will be forever remembered, not just by the United States, but by freedom-loving people everywhere.
Benjamin Franklin once said that “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” In a few short words, he refutes the idea commonly held by philosophers that there can be a trade off between freedom and equality. A free society is the natural result of the belief, once thought to be self-evident, that all humans are created equal and that their Creator has granted them all the same rights, too numerous to be listed, of which life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are merely the most important. Freedom and true equality cannot exist independent of one another. Equal happiness can only be produced by soul-crushing tyrannical enforcement of conformity, and is only fully achieved in the grave. People are not cogs in a social machine to be played with until the results match some particular utopian ideal. They are ends unto themselves, and only they can determine what is best in their own life.
Progressives are not evil. They sincerely believe they know how best to order society to produce the highest aggregate level of happiness, and they act accordingly. However, this belief is profoundly misguided and appallingly arrogant. Thankfully, the American people understand this and have opposed social engineers since they first began cropping up in the 19th century. Nevertheless, progressives have been able to override the popular will time and time again because they are clear and united in their desire to reshape America. They are shameless in pursuit of their goal because they believe that the ends justify the means. The opposition, in contrast, is diverse. Conservatives have failed to present the overarching moral case for freedom and equality and keep their coalition together. Often, some Conservatives seek common cause with progressives. People pursue economic interests, looking to government power for rent-seeking, and many social conservatives are too quick to believe in government’s power to do good. In the absence of an opposing message, progressives have used fear, deception, and corruption to advance their goals relentlessly. Their agenda is indefensible to the people, but when they manage to seize power they create institutions that are designed to lock people in government dependency forever. They have carefully designed their projects to be untouchable, so that they remain in place until the people forget the God-given freedom that was stolen from them and know only the “positive rights” government has created for them. Progressives are patient, knowingly constructing the government leviathan over generations. When they have the opportunity, we leap two steps in the progressive direction, and it seems we only ever manage to take one step back.
We are repeating the cycle of democracy which has brought down civilization after civilization. Prosperity is a consequence of freedom, yet when prosperous people begin to fear loss more than they love freedom, they forget the source of their prosperity. They are talked in to trading freedom for the illusion of security. This moral degeneration leads to dependency, tyranny, poverty, and, eventually, to social collapse and war. It is foolish in the extreme to think that our civilization is the one historical exception. As the saying goes, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Conservatives take heart! None of this is inevitable. Through the long ages of history, there has never once been a nation such as our own. Progressives have always had an easier job in the Old World, where every nation has had a history of tyranny. As George Will recently said, Americans are not a state-broken people, and we never have been. We are a nation founded in revolution against tyranny, peopled by immigrants escaping tyranny. We are a nation of self-selected individuals, here by choice, not by historical accident. We are the last best hope of humanity. The potential consequences of our failure are unspeakable.
So the stakes could not be any higher. On the one hand, we repeat history. On the other, we fulfill the great promise of our nation’s founding. America has always been special, for if we cannot bear our freedom, then freedom is indeed contrary to the human condition and our Revolution was futile from the start. I for one do not believe this to be so.