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
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
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.