But I read the commentary anyway since I have learned that I had been sold a bill of goods on a number of issues, and I might learn something. I did:
"Let me give you my vision: a man's right to work as he will, to spend what he earns, to own property, to have the state as servant and not as master -- these are the British inheritance. ... We must get private enterprise back on the road to recovery -- not merely to give people more of their own money to spend as they choose, but to have more money to help the old and the sick and the handicapped. ... I believe that, just as each of us has an obligation to make the best of his talents, so governments have an obligation to create the framework within which we can do so. ...We can go on as we have been doing, we can continue down. Or we can stop and with a decisive act of will, we can say 'Enough.' "
-- Margaret Thatcher
It was called "the British disease," the dismal state of affairs Margaret Thatcher inherited in 1979 when she and her Conservative Party wrested control of Parliament from a leftist Labour Government. Throughout much of the 1960s and '70s, Labour had pursued a deliberate policy of subsidizing or nationalizing failing industries (automotive, aerospace, mining, rail, etc.). Britain's famously militant unions had demanded and received wage increases far above productivity and inflation. In Britain's 1978-79 "Winter of Discontent," wildcat strikes broke out all over the country. More than a million public employees joined trade union picket lines. Hospitals turned away the sick and suffering. Garbage piled up in the streets.
These were the conditions that propelled Britain's Conservative Party, by the narrowest of margins, to victory in elections held in May 1979. These were the challenges Margaret Thatcher faced when she became prime minister. These were the things a return to bedrock conservative principles reversed.
That was quite some period in the history of the UK. Things weren't a lot better for us here in the US:
The 1960s and '70s were nearly equally threatening to the long-term survival and prosperity of the United States. American cities burned in the wake of the Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy assassinations. The smell of tear gas permeated the nation's capital. Vietnam, America's longest and most divisive war, ended in humiliating disaster. President Richard Nixon was forced from office, irrevocably tarred by Watergate and a string of failed policies -- wage and price controls, abandonment of the gold standard, the deliberate cheapening of the dollar, expansion of the welfare state.
His successor, Gerald Ford, a decent man, chosen by Nixon to fill the office of vice president surrendered by the disgraced Spiro Agnew, won the Republican Party's nomination for president in 1976, after a very close and bitter contest with Ronald Reagan. He then lost his abbreviated and unelected presidency to Jimmy Carter, former governor of Georgia, one time naval officer and peanut farmer.
Carter entered office promising to turn the country around, to drain the swamp of corrupt Washington politics. To some he was far too idealistic, too saintly in a world of cutthroat sinners, a world that demanded clear-eyed determination to defend vital national interests, to stare down enemies, foreign and domestic.
The Carter years were marked by stagflation, double-digit unemployment and inflation, sky-high interest rates, and a general feeling that U.S. power and standing in the world were in irreversible decline. Carter called it "malaise." In 1980, he lost his bid for a second term.
I was a huge Carter fan, and remained one until he recently called people who disagreed with Obama racists. Ahem. I had issues with that. But I was so upset when he lost, especially to Reagan. I could scarcely believe it. No telling what THAT guy was going to do to the country:
Ronald Reagan entered office facing problems little less severe than those Britain's Iron Lady had faced the year before. He pursued a conservative agenda similar to Thatcher's. He championed American exceptionalism, believing the country fate had given him to lead was a shining city on a hill, one destined to make the world a better and safer place. He would do this not by waging endless wars in far-off places, not by embracing the political pseudo-science of nation building, but by restoring America to its rightful place as the unchallenged military and economic power it recently had been. He called the Soviet Union an "evil empire" and proved it to be not only evil, but hollow. He brought it to its knees and in the process freed its captive nations without firing a shot. This was the legacy this man, whose detractors had called an "amiable dunce," left his successors.
As is often the case in world history, men forget the simple truths that led to past greatness. America, seemingly in the blinking of an eye, has become the biggest debtor nation in the world. It fights, but does not win nor does it pay for, two wars in far-off places of which it knows but little. It recklessly expands the welfare state, ignoring the huge danger this implies for the Republic. It chooses to ignore the plain language of the Constitution that has served it so well for two and a quarter centuries.
Americans no longer seem to have confidence or take pride in their governing institutions, their schools, their churches and synagogues, their ability to right the listing ship we all are captive on. It is an old story, one written in the numerous financial panics of the 19th century, the Great Depression of the 1930s, the more recent chaos on Wall Street that has spread so devastatingly to Main Street.
We are like overly fed sheep who waddle to our own shearing. Where is the self-reliance, the indomitable spirit that once made us uniquely American? Where is our Thatcher or Reagan today who will free us from our malaise?
Where indeed? And when? (R.L. Schreadley is a former Post and Courier executive editor.)
We are like overly fed sheep who waddle to our own shearing. Where is the self-reliance, the indomitable spirit that once made us uniquely American?
That is quite a statement. And a profound question Schreadley asks as well. As for the latter, we have a president who literally goes around the world apologizing for the United States:
In less than 100 days, he has apologized on three continents for what he views as the sins of America and his predecessors.
Mr. Obama told the French (the French!) that America "has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive" toward Europe. In Prague, he said America has "a moral responsibility to act" on arms control because only the U.S. had "used a nuclear weapon." In London, he said that decisions about the world financial system were no longer made by "just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy" -- as if that were a bad thing. And in Latin America, he said the U.S. had not "pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors" because we "failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas."
By confessing our nation's sins, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Mr. Obama has "changed the image of America around the world" and made the U.S. "safer and stronger." As evidence, Mr. Gibbs pointed to the absence of protesters during the Summit of the Americas this past weekend.
We have a president who makes statements like the following:
"For better or worse" we're a superpower? What the hell kind of statement is THAT for the president to make? Holy Toledo.
Well, I may not have cared much for Reagan when he was president, but I grudgingly admit that he was right about what the United States could be, SHOULD be - a "shining city on the hill." Hillary Clinton sure knew that, as did John McCain. Shouldn't Obama, heck, ANY president, of the United States feel that way about the country he (or she) is supposed to be leading? At the very least, I would think so. At the very least, I would HOPE so. That is the kind of president we need, not an Apologist in Chief, or a Detractor in Chief.
What do you think?