So last week, in what was perhaps a moment of madness, I posted a request on my Facebook page: Tell me your political predictions for the year. Among the more restrained answers: “Hyperinflation,” “Civil War,” “financial collapse,” “terribly awful things.”
Optimist though I am, I can’t help feeling there’s something to this downhearted consensus. After living through the most peaceful and prosperous half century that any nation has ever experienced in the history of humankind, it seems impossible to believe we would re-elect a mediocre reactionary out to “fundamentally transform” our success into failure. But we did, and that’s — well, let’s call it “less than cheering.”
On the other hand…
One of the central weaknesses of radicalism is that radicals seem to lose track of the causes and foundations of the things even they value. They don’t understand that peace is always and everywhere the end result of superior firepower, improved health the result of greater wealth, wealth the result of hard-headed and often greedy business dealing, and liberty deeply linked to a specific concept of man’s relationship to God. They never consider that it may at least be questionable whether the cornerstone can be removed without the structure toppling over.
Conversely, one of the central weaknesses of conservatism is that conservatives see all too clearly how every good thing we have is linked to everything else. They can trace in a moment how any change in the system might lead to disaster. Expand the definition of marriage and civilization falls. Raise taxes and end up in chains. Allow women to vote and government will become an all-embracing, over-protective mother state infantilizing the population. Okay, maybe that last one’s true, but you see what I’m getting at.