What a difference there is between a Republican defeat and a Democratic defeat. After 1994 and 2000 and 2004 the Democrats were apoplectic. They're coming for the children, they roared after 1994. We wuz robbed, they spat after 2000. The voting machines did it, they squirmed after 2004.
But like the sensible middle-class folks we are, we Republicans have gone home after November 2006 to do some thinking. Some have complained about the congressional Republicans. But they are politicians; they must deal in the art of the possible-this week!
It is our job, especially on a page named American Thinker, is to do the thinking, and then show the American people how to make, in the words of F.A. Hayek,
"the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage."
It was the great achievement of Ronald Reagan to do exactly that, and perhaps the greatest failing of President Bush to characterize the war on terror as a grim duty rather than as a mighty calling.
What we must do is build a new narrative. Our postmodernist friends have poured scorn on the idea of narrative. The great western Judeo-Christian story is a conspiracy to justify eurocentric phallocentric oppression, they write. And they have a point.
But without a narrative to make sense of our origin and our noble destiny where would we be? We would be just like secular, childless Europe-or even secular, childless blue-state America.
Remember the great narrative the Democrats had in their glory years?
You know how it goes.
Back in the 1920s working people suffered under the corruption of Warren Harding and the Ohio gang, Calvin Coolidge-a man "weaned on a pickle," and Herbert Hoover, who sat around and did nothing while the nation plunged into the abyss. Then came a man of action, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who deployed the federal government in a program of bold, persistent experimentation, declared that "we have nothing to fear but fear itself," and made Americans believe in themselves again with the NRA, workers' rights, and Social Security. Then came the Age of Civil Rights! And then came the great society, medicare, women's liberation, choice, gay rights, diversity, hate speech, driving while black, and mumble mumble, oh yes, the Bridge to the Twenty-first Century!
Something seems to have gone wrong with the Democratic narrative in recent years. It's hard to represent creaking old bureaucratic government programs as ever young and overflowing with hope. But our new conservative narrative cannot just be a Hayekian call to adventure. Adventure is a guy thing. Our political narrative must also celebrate safety, caring, listening, and conversation-girl things. (Why do you think Hillary Clinton's first Senate campaign had a "listening tour" and her campaign for president is a "conversation?")
Already, as Steven M. Warshawsky reports, willing conservatives have started to construct a new narrative. Here is one more contribution to the effort.
"America has always been a can-do nation that cared. When there's a tidal wave in Indonesia, it is the US Navy that appears on the scene first with potable water. When there's an earthquake in Iran, Americans are there first to help people dig out.
"So when Horace Mann told us that a nation of 90 percent literacy wasn't good enough, we set up a government education system to make it better.
"When Franklin Delano Roosevelt demanded a system to bring a bare minimum of dignity to people in old age, we gave him Social Security.
"When activist Michael Harrington reminded us of The Other America that FDR had described as "ill-fed, ill-clad, ill-housed," we agreed to fund a war on poverty to fix it.
"Of course we did. America is a generous nation, and the American people are a generous people.
"But when after a century of government education this nation is still only 90 percent literate, it is time for reform. When the pension system to assist our senior citizens is going to eat the federal budget, it is time for reform. When a war on poverty creates a underclass of broken families and drugs and violence, it is time for reform.
"But there is a problem.
"In America there is a political party that won't listen. It blocks reform of education, year after year.
"In America there is a political party that won't read the audit reports. It blocks the reform of Social Security, year after year.
"In America there is a political party that doesn't want to see the devastation of marginalized families. It blocks further reform of welfare, year after year, even after the stunning success of the 1996 welfare reform.
"A party that won't reform education doesn't care about kids.
"A party that won't reform Social Security doesn't care about seniors.
"A party that won't extend the successful reform of welfare doesn't care about poor people.
"America doesn't deserve this, because America has done better. It can do better. It will do better.
"So there comes a time when we must demand, like Lee Iacocca: Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
"That time is now.
"And that is why we call all Americans to join us in our great program of reform, to break the ice jam in our frozen river of government, and make it once again as warm, as generous, and as sensible as the American people.
"Nobody said it better than Ronald Reagan in1992: America's best days are yet to come.'
"Join us in our conversation. With your help we will make President Reagan's vision a reality."