Reaganism's Last Stand?

Right will prevail if we fight for it.

In the late winter of 1836, a handful of determined men gathered in a semi-fortified mission compound near San Antonio, Texas, and prepared to defy the forces of Mexican General Santa Anna.  Texas was at that time a Mexican state, ruled from Mexico City.  While Mexico itself was ruled by Spain, American citizens were welcomed as colonists; after Mexican independence in 1821, Americans became progressively less welcome.  Eventually, tensions between Mexicans and those who were to become Texans erupted into the Texas Revolution.

The Texians, as they were called, were few in number and grossly underequipped, but they felt Santa Anna's centralized government to be oppressive enough to be worth the sacrifices required to free themselves.  Santa Anna, for his part, would accept no challenges to his authority and wanted to make an example of the rebels.

He brought an army of some 7,000 Mexican regulars, announcing that no surrender would be accepted and that all rebels would be executed as pirates.  It is difficult to imagine a statement better calculated to inspire prodigious feats of resistance on the part of the rebels, and inspire them it did.

With his army assembled and the Alamo besieged, Santa Anna ordered the final assault.  By dawn on March 7, the Alamo had fallen and the Texian defenders were dead to the last man, except for one former Mexican soldier who managed to convince Santa Anna that he had been held prisoner by the Texians.

Politics today is not quite so violent, but it's hard for conservatives today not to feel like defenders of the Alamo.  Unless a truly stunning and utterly unforeseen miracle occurs in the voting booth today, tomorrow will see Republicans comprehensively driven from power.

The Senate's most liberal member will inherit the White House; Nancy Pelosi and her San Francisco socialists will increase their already large majority in the House of Representatives; and, in all probability, Harry Reid will command a Senate majority sufficient to ignore the threat of a Republican filibuster.  In short, there will be no need for any Democrat in Washington to listen to any Republican politician or care what conservative constituents might think.

The left will have complete control of both the legislative and executive branches of our government and will be free to remake America in their own image.  The "shining city on a hill" of Reagan's conservatism will be put to rest.

It's this very fact which can offer us hope for the future.  Despite the untrammeled power Democrats are about to enjoy, despite the monopoly of mass media commanded by liberals which will only increase when the Fairness Doctrine is inevitably revived to remove conservatives from the radio waves, despite the overwhelming financial advantages held by the left which absolute power can only augment, America remains a center-right country.

American voters are understandably frustrated with the Bush administration and rightly revolted by all-too-common Republican corruption, debauchery, and wasteful spending.  They want a change, and that's not unreasonable, but they have no idea what change they're going to get.

When it comes right down to it, a majority of Americans don't want what's about to happen.

Democrats have an Achilles heel; they always have.  They are like the class clown in middle school who is funny for a while, but doesn't know when to stop and finally gets in trouble, ending up rejected and alone.

If Democratic leaders were wise, they could move our politics in a leftward direction, but not so far as to cause a backlash.  They could nationally require civil-unions for homosexuals, say, but not marriage.  They could follow Obama's stated plan and raise taxes on those earning $250,000 or more in a year, but not anyone any less blessed.

They could tilt the National Labor Relations Board in favor of union organizers while not destroying the fundamental right to a secret ballot.  They could require that access to abortion be relatively easy, but not outlaw the parental notification requirements most Americans find reasonable.

In every area of law and politics there is an avenue of significant, substantive, but limited liberal change which the American people would accept, and then there's a dead-end of extreme leftism which will result in a furious and angry backlash.

A look at history gives us no doubt which course the Democrats will choose.  Jimmy Carter was elected on a promise of competence at home and morality abroad; instead, he gave us stagflation at home and humiliation abroad.  Bill Clinton tried to ram Hillarycare down America's throat; that gave us the first Republican congressional majority in decades.

We even see the effect at the local level, where homosexuals demand the name of marriage, not just the trappings - resulting in referenda that overwhelmingly pass to ban both.  Being a Democrat means never knowing when to stop.

What's more, there's nothing like a Lost Cause to bring out an unanticipated determination.  After the annihilation of the Alamo, Santa Anna thought the Texians would know they were beaten and knuckle under.  Instead, previous fence-sitters flocked to the Lone Star flag under Sam Houston, defeated the Mexican army at San Jacinto, and took Santa Anna prisoner.

The price of his life was his signature on the Treaty of Velasco, where "in his official character as chief of the Mexican nation, he acknowledged the full, entire, and perfect Independence of the Republic of Texas."

The battle between left and right will go on as long as political freedom endures; no victory will ever be final, and every triumph - on either side - carries with it the seeds of its own destruction.

Some leaders, like Bill Clinton, learn in office and find themselves moving to a path the American people can agree with, leading to popular acclaim.  Others don't, and wind up disgraced failures like Presidents Carter and, yes, Bush, succeeded by their polar opposites.

Jimmy Carter's failures led to the recognition, as Reagan put it, that "Government is not the solution to our problems.  Government is the problem."  Bush, alas, forgot this lesson, and while claiming to be a conservative, expanded the size, reach, and cost of government far past Carter's wildest dreams, discrediting Reaganism by association while abandoning its core tenets.

The situation may seem bleak for conservatives, libertarians, and anyone else who believes that they ought to be allowed to make their own way in life rather than being forced to do and think what their betters in high office think they ought.  But although Reagan and his coalition are long dead, his ideas not only live on, but will return purified, stronger, and more transcendent than ever.

For we are not merely on the Right.  We are on the side of Right, and Right will prevail.  It always does, if we are willing to fight for it.

Go out and vote today; then tomorrow, we'll all get back to work.  But save every penny you can; you'll need them all.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments
Absolutely brilliant read. Thanks for making my bleak day a little shinier.
November 4, 2008 8:04 AM
Absolutely fantastic article. It gives me a little ray of hope through all the dark clouds that have been swirling around us all lately. Viva la Reagan Revolucion!
November 4, 2008 8:08 AM
The analogy with the Alamo is perfect. Conservatives may lose this battle, but hopefully it will help us win the war over all.
November 4, 2008 8:16 AM
As part of this, every true conservative and libertarian needs to flush the GOP of the RINOs. The GOP needs to be returned to it's roots. This means at the local level--you can't leave it to those who have always been there. The GOP power structure must be toppled and rebuilt from the ground up. And each one of us needs to begin a daily relentless educational pursuit to teach the Constitution and the blessings of liberty it provides if we limit government.
November 4, 2008 10:11 AM
hear hear this blog post and comments are right good one fennoman too
November 4, 2008 11:11 AM
I've been saying for almost a year now, right here on Scragged, that this is EXACTLY what we need. A FULLY UNRESTRAINED Democrat congress and president? Nobody to hold their rampant socialism in check?

You say that Americans don't want what's about to happen. Maybe not in the short term - but that's been the problem, especially with the Republicans - we keep looking at the short term.

We are about to face 4 years of hell. But IF - (this is important) - IF the REAL Republicans can do as Fennoman says, and we can bring forward a REAL conservative in 2012, we can see a real change on the other side.
November 4, 2008 12:48 PM
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