The Fork in the Road
It has become fashionable to state categorically that Conservatism has won the intellectual debate, the war of ideas and words. Speaker after speaker at dinners and conferences anchor their message in this premise, then try to explain why life in the U.S. does not reflect our 'great victory.' David Horowitz, even, in his celebrated It's a War, Stupid! begins every paragraph with phrases such as "...the election of 1996 was a vindication of conservative principles," and: "Conservatism is so clearly victorious..." or: "Conservative ideas are calling the tune so insistently..." If Conservatives will base future strategy on this imaginary victory, we are in deep trouble. I have decided to raise a lone voice in protest and, while at it, address other disturbing phraseology that has become rampant. These are references Conservatives like to make to the "American Experiment," the "Second American Revolution," and "New" this, that, or the other.
But first things first. As we bask in Conservatism's "victory," here is a list of unvarnished reality as it unfolded in just one month. The quota system reached a new high with the ruling that institutions of learning must provide the same range and amount of athletics programs for women as for men, whether or not there is demand. America's sovereignty and defense capability suffered a possibly irreversible blow by the Senate's ratification of the Chemical Weapons Treaty. Alexis Herman has been confirmed as Secretary of Labor, and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee plead with grass-roots organizations to prevent the nomination of Liberal judges because, once nominated, the Senate "is unable to withhold confirmation." The budget deal between the White House and Congress locked in unprecedented levels of redistribution for the next 5 years. Demands are being made for yet more racial categories in Census 2000. Looking abroad, the U.S. just handed Russia a permanent voice in the affairs of Europe - something they never had in 700 years. China is building what amounts to a forward naval base at Long Beach, California. A coalition of Socialists and Communists has formed a new, aggressive government in France, rendering the conservative president lame. Conservatives in Great Britain have been wiped off the board by something called "New Labor." Not 24 hours after the election, "New Labor" announced a cabinet they call "radical center." A roster of the members confirms the "radical" portion of the phrase. The word "center" is there to permit all whistlers in the dark to continue whistling.
What used to be political dialogue between Democrats and Republicans, the 1960's turned into a heated debate between Liberals and Conservatives. By now, we are at yet another stage of our national existence: Will America pursue the course charted by the Founders, or follow leaders who have an entirely different route in mind? We are at the fork in the road.
The reality is that, for some time, we have been getting farther and farther away from America's founding principles. The reality is that neither Ronald Reagan in the White House nor Newt Gingrich in the U.S. House of Representatives has been able to reverse the process, only to slow it temporarily. The reality is that we are losing America without so much as an open debate, much less a shot fired by an enemy.
Americans detest Socialists and Socialism. That is why, unlike Britain's Labor Party, America's Socialists have always avoided being called Socialists. "Avoided," of course, is not the proper term. "Suppress" is what they have done. After the 1994 elections, however, even the label "Liberal" became a liability. Hardly missing a beat, Liberals - America's Socialists - simply declared that they were now "conservative." This they accomplished so successfully that, this time 'round, even the Labor Party of Britain followed suit. The rest, as the saying goes, is electoral history on both sides of the Atlantic.
The history of Socialism, under that or any other name, informs us that any and all means are legitimate in the pursuit of long-term goals. Taking on the designation, rhetoric, even the actual program of the enemy is perfectly OK, so long as it promotes the accomplishment of goals. Phrases like "The era of big government is over" are as phoney as suggestions to "civilize the debate," coming less than an hour after the most vicious hate speech had been unleashed against Conservatives in order to win the election.
If this nation is to return to its original path, one of these days the facts will have to be faced. Foremost among them is the reality of irreconcilable differences separating Socialists from those of us who hold that the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and The Federalist Papers should continue to determine our course. We ought not to be deceived by the constant lip service Socialists pay to the founding documents. It is no different from a convicted rapist assuring us of his otherwise deep respect for women.
But our own rhetoric, too, bears scrutiny. America is not an "experiment." Experiments, by definition, have yet to succeed. If, at this stage, we still wonder whether America "will" succeed, we deny our well-established nationhood. That is exactly what the other side wishes.
As for the "second American Revolution," it is doubtful that we ever had a first one. Revolutions aim at destruction - of things, people, and society's structure. The American Founding was concerned with the construction of a successful nation. The Preamble to the U. S. Constitution is not the rhetoric of revolutionaries. Nor, truly, is the Declaration of Independence.
Finally, a word about "new." Remember Aladdin's lamp? The moral of the story is that offers of "new for old" ought to make us suspicious: the "old" is likely to have the greater value. Any suggestion that someone in our midst today would come up with better ideas than Washington, Franklin, Jefferson or Madison is unrealistic. America, indeed the world, was most fortunate to have such a combination of the loftiest ideals and a down-to-earth legal framework occur even once.