Margaret Thatcher vs. Nancy Pelosi
It is also worth keeping the larger perspective in view. I found the "debate" over health care "reform" a sickening spectacle: Can Nancy Pelosi find the right bribes to win over a few more wavering congressmen? Here we were talking about a sixth of the United States economy and Washington was riveted on smarmy gamesmanship, back-room deals, empty Executive Orders of dubious Constitutionality. These are the people we have chosen to represent us? Disgusting. (I remind readers once more about ThrowTheBumsOut.org.)
Seen rightly, every challenge is an opportunity. And this defeat is no exception. It is time now to persevere with the work of recovery. It is time, too, to step back and remind ourselves of some basic principles -- to remind ourselves that what we are fighting for is not just the 216 votes for this or that bill but something much larger. Like what? A friend just sent me this reflection, titled "Thoughts on the Moral Case," from the Margaret Thatcher Papers in Cambridge.
Our views on the way a government should run the economy can be described as "libertarian": that is to say freedom to develop trade and industry within the framework of a strong and clear law. The most important part of the case for this economic freedom is not the way it produces greater prosperity but its consistency with certain fundamental moral principles of life itself. Each soul or person matters; man is imperfect; he is a responsible being; he has freedom to choose; he has obligations to his fellow man.
Morality is personal. There is no such thing as a collective conscience, collective kindness, collective gentleness, collective freedom. To talk of social justice, social responsibility, a new world order, may be easy and make us feel good, but it does not absolve each of us from personal responsibility. We don't carry out our moral commitment by taking up a public stance on these things, but only by choosing to do something about them ourselves. You can't delegate personal morality to your country. You are your country.
Inspiring, what? Here's an exercise: try to imagine what you might find in the yet-to-be assembled Nancy Pelsoi Papers at the University of California at Berkeley. Not pretty, is it?