Party Like It's 1989
Amid all the hubbub and brouhaha over the debt ceiling - the recriminations, the counter-recriminations, the walkouts and the press conferences-cum-temper-tantrums, the most important question for conservatives has yet to be answered:
When can we start celebrating?
Two hours before I began this article, CNN reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will be introducing a plan to cut spending by $2.5 trillion, with no revenue increases. Of course, like everything congressional Democrats say these days, and much of what they do, the statement, by itself, unaccompanied by specific cuts (about which we will learn soon enough), is meaningless. But even so, the mere fact of Reid offering spending cuts - and trillion-plus cuts at that - without a demand to raise taxes, represents, at best, a major capitulation. A more uncharitable interpretation would characterize it as a total surrender, an unambiguous de facto admission that the GOP has won the so-called the debt ceiling debate and, along with it, the philosophical debate about the future direction of this country.
But much more than that, for this writer at least, the debt ceiling standoff, and the electorate's response to it, represent, for the first time since Barack Obama became president, the promise of real Hope and Change -- i.e. the kind of Hope and Change that conservatives can believe in.
1989 was the year that the Berlin Wall came down, and the Soviet Union and its guiding philosophy, communism, along with it. The collapse came 72 years after the Communist takeover of Russia, in 1917. It's kissing-cousin, liberalism, on the other hand, did not achieve dominance in America until 1933. Having started later, and having been less brutally imposed than Soviet communism, one could reasonably expect liberalism's inevitable collapse to come later and the process to take longer. Still, generations of conservatives have waited. And waited. And waited for the year that liberalism would collapse under the weight of its own fantasies and contradictions. Year after year, each generation wondered, futilely, whether they would live to witness the collapse of liberalism within their lifetimes.
Could we, those of us living today, be the lucky ones? Could this year, 2011, be the year?
Could 2011 be liberalism's 1989?
Could 2011 be the year that the welfare state finally, as Margaret Thatcher famously said, runs out of other people's money?
Could this be the year that the youngest generation totes up the damage that the preceding generation, mine, has done - and for which their generation will be expected to pay - and says, in "undocumented immigrant" lingo, no mas?
Could this be the year that, finally, Atlas shrugs and the looters and moochers are shown the door - and unceremoniously booted through it?
Could this be the year that spending is cut, really cut and Leviathan shackled so securely that it can never threaten us again?
Could this be the year that health care and free markets are reintroduced to each other and America takes the first tentative steps toward the kind successful privatized national retirement system that Chileans have enjoyed for 30 years?
Could this the year that conservatives e get to party like it's 1989?
This writer is not quite ready to say so. But with each passing day, it's looking increasingly like 2011, or 2013 at the latest, could be the year that Americans gets to experience the kind of joy that Germans experienced in 1989.
Mr. Obama, tear down this Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act!
Despite being personally agnostic on the existence of an afterlife, I'd like to think that, somewhere, Ayn Rand is smiling.
I know I am.
Gene Schwimmer is the author of The Christian State.