Watching the Obama administration at work this week, a friend offered this judgment: Under Obama, Iran keeps its nuclear program and Americans lose their health insurance.
Historians and political scientists will have much to say, after its collapse, about contemporary liberalism’s propensity to be at once tough on American citizens and soft on Iranian mullahs. Today’s liberals are pleased to use the power of the state to nudge—not to say bully—their fellow Americans, while shunning the exercise of power abroad, preferring to accommodate—not to say appease—the nation’s enemies. It would seem to be a paradox.
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Or perhaps not. Aren’t the bossy often insecure? Aren’t bullies often cowards? Those who throw their weight around when they aren’t resisted often shy away from confrontation with those who won’t yield. A fatal conceit at home can be the flip side of a fatal loss of nerve abroad.
This is a moment that reveals the bankruptcy of contemporary liberalism
It’s also a moment of truth for American conservatism, which, at its best, com bines the sound judgment of an older conservatism and the fighting spirit of an older liberalism. It’s a moment of truth for an American conservatism that embodies “that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government” (Federalist 39). This suggests the immediate task of American conservatives: resistance to the nanny state at home and the enemies of freedom abroad.
The spirit of resistance is there
The rise of the Tea Party shows that. But the energy of the Tea Party, as Tea Party activists know, isn’t enough. A strategy of successful resistance has to be embodied in and carried forward by a real political party. That’s the Republican party.