Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Decision '08 — Rick Moran @ 12:14 pm

If there has been one constant throughout American history, it has been that this is a nation that stands still for nothing or no one, that our gaze has always been locked on some distant horizon, leaving the present to take care of itself while caring little for our past.

This has led to some truly remarkable - dare I say “exceptional” - qualities in the American character. Some of these attributes have allowed us to perform almost magical feats of transformative metamorphosis, turning disadvantages into virtues while finding the good in the worst of situations. This kind of optimism is not unique to America. But we are the only nation that makes a civic virtue of it. As our ancestors hacked a civilization out the wilderness with nothing more than a few crude tools and a boundless hope for the future, something took hold in the spirit of those pioneers and settlers that allowed them to live in what can only be described as primitive conditions.

Always on the edge of starvation and with little coin or currency in their possession that would mitigate their hardscrabble existence, it was the realization that what they were doing was for their children and grandchildren that gave them the grim determination to tough it out and brave the dangers from man and beast in order to build something permanent out of what previously had been wild and untamed.

These people were hoping for change - they were counting on it. They were praying for it. And as the years passed and the land turned over, the future arrived with all the promise and hope for which our ancestors worked, bled, wept, fought, and died to effect. It was their vision, their expectations for the future that we build on today.

We are standing on the shoulders of giants as we look to the future in these uncertain times. We too, have a vision of America that we hope that someday will be realized. It is nothing like the America envisioned by our ancestors and this is how it should be. It is how it was with them as they helped create an America not as their grandfathers saw it but as they were able to imagine it.

The beauty of America is that each generation, each incarnation of Americans has the freedom, the ability, and the right to see an America they wish their children and grandchildren to live in and then try and shape their individual present and future to fit that notion. We practically invented the idea of the common man as an important player in history. And each succeeding epoch proves that the real catalyst for change is not politicians mouthing platitudes but ordinary people moving mountains - one rock at a time.

Many of us are fearful of the future if Barack Obama wins the presidency and the liberals dominate the Congress. All manner of evils are imagined. “America won’t be the same,” is the cry most often heard on the right. Some even go so far as to say the America we live in now will be no more and a new America will supplant the old one.

I have rejected that notion as totally unrealistic. But there is absolutely no doubt that change is coming. This would be true whether McCain or Obama were to be elected. This change has been happening right under our noses for decades and is only now being brought out in bas relief as a result of the election where conservatives have awakened with a start and realized that the American people are not responding the way they once did to our ideas, our beliefs, our issues.

Yes, a large part of that is the damage done to the conservative cause by Republicans claiming to be conservative but who betrayed everything that conservatism stands for. But, if you care to look beneath the surface of the voter’s anger, what you see are changed attitudes toward America, altered perceptions of the country as our citizens wrestle with change.

The changes wrought by war, by globalization, by a slowly evolving realization that our national identity itself is changing are merely catalysts that people can put their finger on to describe their unease. In truth, none of these things affect people where they live except in the grossest, macro sense that filters down through the media.


* Our industrial sector has been shrinking for more than 35 years. We are no longer the “workshop of the world” and the high paying, comfortable middle class wages paid for those jobs are gone as well. The rapid pace of change has made the American worker expendable - unless he adapts to the new paradigm and adopts a skill that is in demand in this new world.

* While still the world’s leading economic and military superpower, we have discovered that nobody wants to fight us in the traditional ways of war and instead, our enemies prefer to engage in “asymmetrical warfare” where the odds are evened out and our will is tested more than our equipment or men.

* Demographically, the US is becoming less white, less suburban, more secular, and more educated.

These world-historic forces that are driving these change are bubbling up from the bottom - largely because of our influence on the world. It is the true Age of the Common Man and it will present enormous challenges for our economic livelihood and our security.

Yes, this is all rather frightening. Some take refuge in the past, demanding a return of the factories and the jobs that brought life to so many towns and cities across the nation. Others take refuge in religion, demanding a return to an America where belief in God animated the law and brought communities together. And still others - a few others - demand a wholesale destruction of the past and a different America built upon alien foundations.

To all those there is a common denominator - a palpable, unreasoning fear of the unknown - Shakespear’s “undiscovered country” of the future. Obama may tell the unions he will bring back jobs from overseas but it is an empty, worthless promise. You can’t get in a time machine, go back and bring forward conditions and realities that don’t exist today and haven’t existed for decades. Sarah Palin and the social conservatives will not be able to wipe out 34 years of privacy law by banning abortion, preventing gay people from joining in a legal contract denoting togetherness, or enforcing standards in our media against sex and violence.

Nor is it possible to dismember our past wholesale and substitute a new template over which America can be remade. It would take more than a few kooks and liberals to have that kind of influence on 380 years of history and more than 300 million citizens. It is a pipe dream and to those who fear such change, I would say that you are battling invisible demons.

Either Obama or McCain will usher in an era where the relationship between the citizen and the government will change. What kind of change is entirely up to us. That’s why I think it a good thing to embrace change and rather than trying to keep it from happening, work like the devil to make it yours and have it fit in to your concept, your belief in the future. Work to create a country where your children and grandchildren will be happy, free, and at peace.

This is what our grandfathers and their grandfathers imagined and fought for. Can we do any less?


  1. I beg to differ. When I faced the world as a college graduate in 1982, I really was standing on the shoulders of my father and grandfathers aspiring to greater heights than they did. As my son approaches his graduation from college, college costs a lot more, housing is at least 300% more, but compensation growth is tiny in comparison, social security will rely on his contributions to support not a fraction of a current retiree’s needs but 100% of those needs, and his share of the US national debt may exceed what he’ll make in a lifetime. The CHANGE has already occurred, and its an embarrassment that America offers less to this generation than it did to previous ones. We’ve mortgaged and plundered this generation’s future, and a victory for the left will signal them to accelerate the plunder.

    Comment by mark30339 — 11/3/2008 @ 12:36 pm

  2. You have an optimism to you Rick that I do not. I just don’t see how we can stop the left from hijacking the country. A gov’t controlled by the left can do as it pleases with little regard to my own personal ideas about America. A left house, a left senate, a left president and a left judiciary is free to do whatever pops into their head and who could stop them. We will have to endure it for at least 2 years and then hope the people recognize the problems and voice their displeasure in the voting booth. I’m not afraid of change, just the change the left wants, its a change that does not warm me to tomorow.

    Comment by Finrod — 11/3/2008 @ 12:44 pm

  3. Very thoughtful piece Rick. I have always shared a certain optimism about America’s future…and that usually puts me in the minority. However, in these past few weeks it has finally started to sink in that the conservative ideas I have embraced my whole life may finally be on their way out the door–or if not out the door, radically changed into a different beast entirely. It’s hard to feel optimistic when you feel like your country will change. If we forget where we came from–the plucky pioneer spirit, the determination–then we will lose everything, because that is why we are the greatest country in the world.

    Unfortunately I’ve been becoming less and less optimistic that this pioneer spirit will continue. I hear Obama’s speeches and I just feel like he wants to turn the US into one big social experiment, to see if the government can provide better for society by taking more of our money and handing it out how they see fit. And I don’t even think anyone cares. We have stopped rolling up our sleeves like our parents and grandparents and greatgrandparents did, and have started holding out our hands for handouts instead.

    My hope is that, if Obama is elected, the country becomes disillusioned with this idea that the government can provide everything you need. I feel like it’s a dead-end road…

    Comment by Shelby — 11/3/2008 @ 1:06 pm

  4. It is more like endure the future. It will take less than a few kooks and liberals to dismember the United States. No, five United States Supreme Court justices will do a fine job of dismantling the last vestiges of property and individual rights in the not-so-distant future. Conservatives have been too focused on social issues like abortion to realize the real danger will be when a left-wing Congress, president and high court join hands to impose their version of utopia. That day draws nigh. It will be celebrated, eventually, by a woefully uninformed populace.

    Shortly after the United Kingdom emerged victorious from World War II, I many patriotic Britons split betweeen those who felt as you and those who felt the slow decline of freedom was about to begin unabated. I think there is no question who proved right.

    I have little doubt the Republicans will regain one or both houses of Congress in 2012. The question is whether it really matters now.

    Comment by jackson1234 — 11/3/2008 @ 1:11 pm

  5. I wish I were as sanguine, Mr. Moran. Lay your Eyore burden on me and let me carry it for a paragraph or three.

    Americans as sodbusters and river-forders is something to be proud of, no doubt. Our nation was built by people who looked to the horizon, rather than over their shoulders to the government. This is all good, the memes and themes are there for those of us who remember them and are inspired by them. But even the ‘final frontier’ as described by science fiction has been breached for the last 40 years. There isn’t a lot of room left to expand into, so now rather than filling in the blank spaces in our national maps more and more of us are having to learn to live with each other.

    People don’t look to the far horizon anymore. They look to the end of the block, or to the end of the week. A sizable portion apparently can’t see the horizon beyond the Capitol Dome and rely on the people inside to tell them that there is a horizon and it’s wonderful, and they’ll keep telling you stories about it if you’ll keep them in the Dome. Bringing up the questing, seeking nature of our forbearers only makes our current situation seem all the more petty, because it elides almost a century of federally-mandated Nerfdom.

    My ancestors crossed the Appalachians with Daniel Boone. They had the food that would fit in their wagon, the shot and powder in their stores, and lots of hope. Their outcome would be at the tails of human experience — greatness or death. They fought wilderness, weather, disease, hunger, a hundred other things that don’t penetrate the plastic wrap of our lives.

    By comparison, the biggest near-term challenges I forsee — keeping my 401k out of the hands of Barney Frank, and my firearms out of Chuck Schumer’s furnace — are by comparison petty, and that’s being generous. While it’s inspiring to point to our history and say that we’re all about change, the rapid change in field of view from the far tails of human experience to the very middle of the homogenized, middle-standard-deviation-of-the-Bell-curve and the few percent of real change that is likely to occur one way or the other is jarring.

    Now this is just me personally, but don’t drag out my ancestors breaking trails and shooting bears unless we’re going to lift our sights a bit and really try to change things. Find another way to tell me it’s all going to be better, and save the pioneers and the men of Omaha Beach for when we need to raise the Black Flag in earnest. This four years will suck if Obama is elected. My best hope is that the fratricide of making Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama agree on the details of anything will function, along with the GOP House remnant, as a de-facto opposition party. The Senate will most likely not go to a filibuster-proof majority, but there are only so many times the GOP can go to the filibuster well.

    If you’re going to give me a historical reference, give me the Second Battle of Adobe Walls, or Rorke’s Drift. In the wilderness, but not cowed and not surrendering to the tender mercies of your opponents. Dig in, hold out, remember what you believe and wait for the left to implode. They might not realize it, but they are just human, like the GOP reformers in 1994 were.

    We’re just two years and one day away from the next House and Senate elections. And if the GOP should win the House and/or Senate again, remind them why they’re there, and what they screwed up the last time. I can send them a list if they need one.

    Comment by Darren — 11/3/2008 @ 1:13 pm

  6. Great post Rick. I’m a huge fan of your site, though I’m not a conservative; I have a mish-mosh of liberal, libertarian and conservative views.

    The biggest change, one of which you hit upon, is globalization and its effects on our labor market in this country. The reason many people are struggling with that change is that it isn’t just manufacturing jobs that are going offshore to Asia; it’s also increasing numbers of white collar jobs in accounting, financial services, engineering and scientific research. The job market rules seem to be changing on a yearly basis. Many people can’t deal with that kind of hyper flux and change in their existence.

    The biggest thing that could help people to adjust is to radically change our educational system. Those that need retraining aren’t young people in their twenties. It’s individuals in their forties and fifties who have been downsized or had their jobs outsourced. Right now, college or a trade school isn’t very practical for most of these people (think Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania).
    Government can assist in this matter without being a crutch.

    Maybe we can implement some kind of educational GI Bill, but which is intended for all citizens who need retraining in today’s job market. This answer of mine is based on conservative principles about not giving a man a fish, but teaching him to fish for a lifetime (? not sure if I have the saying right). This is more important now than ever given the situation in the credit markets, as student loans for most people are very hard to come by.

    Comment by Jim — 11/3/2008 @ 2:09 pm

  7. Rick,
    I’m having a hard time reconciling this essay with your Oct. 31 post, “We Didn’t Know.” They look like posts by 2 different people, coming from 2 very different places. What am I missing?

    Changes wrought by Obama are going to be superficial. The change I write about above is much deeper and affects us in a much different and more impactful way.


    Comment by Gene — 11/3/2008 @ 2:30 pm

  8. Obama will not - can not - turn America into a socialist country nor would he want to. A lot has been said in the course of the election to frighten us into believing that Obama is other than us. This is the kind of divisive politicing that the nation is about to reject. Keep your fear in check and know that the constitution and the nation is stronger than one party - it was built that way for a reason. It is time for conservatives to come up with ideas and reasoning instead of trafficing in fear.

    Comment by Neal — 11/3/2008 @ 3:15 pm

  9. Rick I’m afraid a lot of far right conservatives are going to have to face reality in several areas and stop chanting these absurds slogans like socialism, communism, the end of freedom et al. All this despite the fact we’ve seen a Republican govt effectively large parts of the banking and insurance industries and provide bailouts for the car industry. I’ve got news for you folks. Small govt is a mirage. The federal budget is around $3trillion, add another $1.5trillion for state budgets and you have total govt spending of around $4.5trillion. This is so far beyond the budgets of any sovereign state in the world, social democratic or communist, as to make the notion of small US govt totally ridiculous. Big govt is a fact, it’s all about how you manage it efficiently and cost effectively. And the fact is that over the past eight years Republicans have made a complete pigs ears of it.

    Comment by John — 11/3/2008 @ 3:17 pm

  10. Great post Rick.

    Comment by gregdn — 11/3/2008 @ 3:29 pm

  11. @finrod:

    “I just don’t see how we can stop the left from hijacking the country. A gov’t controlled by the left can do as it pleases with little regard to my own personal ideas about America.”

    Welcome to how I’ve felt for the last 8 years.

    Out of curiosity, assuming (a)Obama and The Evil Left wins; and (b) carries a majority of the popular vote (as opposed to simply ringing the 270 EC votes), wouldn’t that sort of imply that “the country” was behind him? Not stolen, not hijacked, no hanging chads, no Supreme Court deciding when to stop counting votes . . . straight up popular support means that “the country” GAVE control to the Left. Willingly. Voluntarily.

    Maybe, just maybe . . . someone who thinks otherwise is in the minority? Maybe thinking that The Evil Leftist Socialist Communist Terrorist Muslimist Boogey Monster is just around the corner isn’t reflective of what “the country” believes. Hard to imagine I know, but its a big country, with lots of people (even if they don’t live in “Real America”). Shame. I guess America doesn’t know who she is. Thank goodness the “Real Americans” will be around to explain to everybody else how wrong the rest of society is. Its a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

    Comment by busboy33 — 11/3/2008 @ 3:34 pm

  12. The worry isn’t that America will change. Of course America will change. The worry is that America’s government and underlying philosophy of liberty will change. If that happens our children and grandchildren’s ability to shape the future like we are shaping it now will be forever lost to tyranny.

    Comment by Pliny — 11/3/2008 @ 3:42 pm

  13. After Obama is elected our do-nothing Congress will no longer have any excuses for their inaction. Will Democrats seize the moment and immediately start keeping their 2006 promises, or will they merely shift the blame from the Bush administration to the Bush legacy? Should the Democrats fail, the ground will be quite fertile for a 3rd-party to take root.

    Comment by Chip — 11/3/2008 @ 4:31 pm

  14. mark30339 wrote:
    “and his share of the US national debt may exceed what he’ll make in a lifetime.”

    Take heart, his actual share of the national debt will be closer to $10 TRILLION/300 million = $32,716 per person.

    Comment by Ron C — 11/3/2008 @ 4:46 pm

  15. By hijacking, I don’t mean stealing the election. Jeez, with Rick’s piece I would have thought that was kinda obvious.

    Pliny Said:
    3:42 pm

    The worry isn’t that America will change. Of course America will change. The worry is that America’s government and underlying philosophy of liberty will change. If that happens our children and grandchildren’s ability to shape the future like we are shaping it now will be forever lost to tyranny.

    Kind of what I mean. Thanks Pliny, well said.

    Comment by Finrod — 11/3/2008 @ 4:57 pm

  16. #6

    Accounting jobs going overseas? Names, places and companies please. I haven’t heard anything like that.


    Damn those Republicans and their scare mongering! And after that, John, can you call my Mom and tell her that if McCain wins she won’t lose her social security. It seems like every four years she get’s this crazy idea that if a Republican is President she’ll lose her social security. I wonder how that popped into her head?

    Comment by Bel Aire — 11/3/2008 @ 5:35 pm

  17. “The Evil Left”

    I think DNC Chairman Dean ‘owns’ applying the word evil to political parties not his own. To be fair, Chairman Dean corrected his assertion by noting not everyone in the party is evil. You got your rube Republicans too. The evil folks need someone to manipulate after all.

    Comment by Bel Aire — 11/3/2008 @ 5:39 pm

  18. Chip,

    I wouldn’t say the 2006 Congress has done nothing.

    Nancy Pelosi had a plan in 2006 to lower gasoline prices.

    One worldwide economic panic and recession later, I believe she can check that one off the list.

    Comment by Darren — 11/3/2008 @ 5:41 pm

  19. mark30339 said (1):
    “We’ve mortgaged and plundered this generation’s future, and a victory for the left will signal them to accelerate the plunder.”

    I think you are missing part of the problem. It is not the left that has caused housing cost to go up, college cost to go up, wages and the job market to shrink. The problem is those who based everything on a company’s bottom line.

    When a CEO gets a couple of million as a buy out after running a company into the ground, and the best way to make more money is to lay off all the Americans, and hire cheap labor in other countries, when the entire goal of a comapny is to keep the stockprice high rather then making the best product possible, then there seems to be a problem.

    Currently GM is talking about stoping R&D on new cars… so that they can have the same models on the showroom next year that they can’t sell this year. Wouldn’t it make sense to try a couple of real changes like stopping the 4 worst modles they currently have and instead offer us one of the small cars they already make in Europe? Or even get really wild and offer us an all electric car that only has 80 miles of range per charge? You know, something that would really shake things up? No, instead they decide to stand still rather then try and change.

    Ford has already said multiple times that American’s don’t want fuel efficent cars, and point to the lack of them on the market as proof we don’t buy them…. Have you heard any problems with people selling the Prius? Or the Smart Car? They sent 20k Smart Cars to the US… and sold out and have a back order on them.

    What was McCain’s answer to the mortgage issue? Create a big department with lots of government employees to buy and take care of all the bad motgages… and he’s the conservative, small government guy? What?

    Comment by Pan_theFrog — 11/3/2008 @ 6:58 pm

  20. Our grandchildren’s ability to shape their future has already been compromised by what we are leaving them: a already trampled constitution, a massive debt, less life expectancy than what we have, all easily recovered oil gone.

    They will not have cheap energy, they will not have low taxes as our bill will come due for them. They will not have the hope that my parents had at the end of World War II. They will have depleted land, fouled air and diseases that we have not dreamed of.

    Liberals and conservatives and moderates have all worked together to leave this leagcy to our grandchildren. No one political philosophy can be blamned for the last fifty years. It has been all of us together yelling Me, Me, Me who have brought our country to this state.

    Only if technology takes another massive leap will our grandchildren and their children have a chance at decent life and the ability to change their future.

    I am much, much less pessimistic. I believe they will have cheap, clean energy (hydrogen), there is always a revolt if taxes get too large, air and water are cleaner now than they were in the 1970’s, our farm industry have been geniuses at squeezing the last possible bushel of wheat or corn out of the land available, and the world - as bad as it appears - will probably muddle along not getting much better or worse.

    This has been the history of the world for most of the last century. Somehow, the doomsayers always miss something - the idea that we really are a very clever species and are capable of amazing things.


    Comment by Gaia's Child — 11/3/2008 @ 7:27 pm

  21. Thanks again Rick for such a thoughtful post. I can see that you’re swinging a bit back and forth here and those emotions are understandable after such a long, hard fought election. I’ve been on the losing side more often than not. Life goes on.

    The changes you write about transcend parties or elections and we all need to deal with them on a daily basis while trying to hold on to the longer view. It’s a tough order but there’s no alternative.

    To Darren I would only say, I understand your aversion to the comparisons to your pioneer ancestors but don’t underestimate the challenges facing us all, liberal, conservative and apolitical. You’re right, hopefully, we won’t have any of the big trials that compare to those of such hardy folk or “the greatest generation” but we are going to be challenged, and fundamentally so, by the many currents swirling about in the world.

    As Rick says, this will be true regardless of who wins the election.

    Comment by emgersh — 11/3/2008 @ 7:34 pm

  22. The greatness of America is our willingness to experiment. We test this, we test that, then we take stock. I have no essential fear for our nation, as long as we recognize when things work and when they don’t. Then try something else.

    Comment by Allen — 11/3/2008 @ 8:35 pm

  23. The industrial sector has grown about 1% per year. Granted the number of jobs has decreased substantially because of significantly increased productivity–without which the sector would have indeed contracted. Yes, we do indeed still make a lot of stuff in this country. Great stuff that people all over the world desire.

    Comment by rondroz — 11/3/2008 @ 8:55 pm

  24. Good piece Rick.

    I think the conservative movement in America seems to have departed from the original conservatism of Edmund Burke, especially in the runup to elections. In its attempts to win elections, the GOP have deliberately followed a polemic path in trying to define the opposition as “the enemy”. Burke saw the same thing as an observer of the French Revolution in 1789 - people, not necessarily evil, just from a different social or economic tradition, were brutally punished for being a part of that tradition. Burke, as a true conservative, was appalled by the rhetoric of the French revolution and this was subsequently followed by other conservative writers when they witnessed incidents such as the revolution in Russia, or the events that followed the burning of the Reichstag in Germany. Conservatism is a movement that promotes friendship, not polemicism; peace rather than war; and moderation rather than extremism. Any true conservative would see that that path has digressed under the Bush government.
    Maybe they feel they have to indulge in Rove style campaign rhetoric to win. For the sake of the GOP and a moderate United States, lets hope they can change their ball game.

    Comment by Furphys anonymous — 11/3/2008 @ 8:58 pm

  25. @Finrod:

    Agreed you didn’t mean hijacking as in stealing the election. I used that imagery to illustrate the point I was trying to make that a popular majority might back him, with no question as to whether it was a “majority”.

    If I understood you correctly, you meant “hijack” as in “force the country to change direction against its will or against its wishes”. To me, that implies that America doesn’t “want” Obama’s policies or those of the Evil Left — those policies will be forced upon an unaccepting public.

    What I was trying to say was that just because you don’t want The Evil Left’s policies, doesn’t mean that America doesn’t. A (possible) landslide Dem victory tomorrow across all levels of the race (Pres., Cong., State/Local) would be a pretty strong sign that America may not all want to be granola-eating hippies, but if faced with a choice between The Goodly Right and The Evil Left the country would rather be Left.

    Like I said before, I sympathize. I couldn’t believe that America not only elected W in 2000, but re-elected him again in 04 after everything that went south in the first 4 years. It was inconcievable that rational adults would knowingly choose that over Kerry (twit though he clearly was). Hell, would choose W over a stale tin of baked beans. But they did. I still think America got it wrong, but being correct and 50 cents gets you a cup of coffee at your corner gas station. Were his policy initiatives “hijacking” the country (setting aside Cheney and any alleged High Crimes and Treason)? I didn’t agree with the “faith based” support groups funded at the government’s expense . . . but it’s not hijacking the country, just a policy I disagree with. Assuming the Evil Left initiate policies you disagree with, are they hijacking the country if they impose greater regulation on industry (as an example)? No. Its just a new direction, one some will disagree with but others don’t. That’s the way the game works. Let the Dems screw everything up, then the Repubs will come sweeping back into power . . . where they can screw up until the next switch of power. Sickening, but that’s the system.

    On the plus side, you’ll probably be happy with the leadership 50% of the time, so it could certainly be worse.

    Comment by busboy33 — 11/3/2008 @ 9:25 pm

  26. “Yes, a large part of that is the damage done to the conservative cause by Republicans claiming to be conservative but who betrayed everything that conservatism stands for.”

    I believe your statement Rick. You are also right that their are big problems facing America and that changes are coming no matter who wins the presidency tomorrow. If the Republican party wants to be a significant part of the solution to those big problems, and not significantly add to the big problems,
    I strongly advise that the party take heed to the truth contained in what I quoted from you.

    Comment by Agent Orange Peel — 11/3/2008 @ 9:51 pm

  27. seriously


    Retire ‘06


    enjoy it

    Comment by RonReagan — 11/3/2008 @ 10:16 pm

  28. You’re right Rick, I am being probably being unduly pessimistic but I just spent my weekend at a family reunion listening to my nieces and nephews, ages 13 to 40. No matter what political party they lay claim to they are angry. None of them plan on collecting social security, none of them see any easy answers to what lays ahead. Also none of them are poor but they are all feeling the pinch and are worried about the following months no matter who wins tomorrow.

    I disagree with you about the water but that’s because I live in the state which always comes in either first or second each year as having the most polluted ground water in the nation. The reason why is because we are a farming state and the way our farmers get their record yields is by chemicals which wash right into our water ways.

    We are a clever species and I hope that I live long enough to see the changes in the next thirty years.

    As usual, thanks for your column and your thoughtful comments on my post.

    Comment by Gaia's Child — 11/3/2008 @ 10:22 pm

  29. Every election brings change. The problem, this time, is the change that Obama would like to bring has been kept hidden from the general public. The electorate apparently has decided to vote for “change” but doesn’t have a clue about what Obama would offer. It frustrates me to ask Obots what Obama will do and be met with a blank stare. I seriously believe that if the media had pushed Obama to go beyond platitudes into policies and beliefs, he would be 10 points behind. Hell, he would have lost the primary.

    I actually agree that Obama’s comments about coal were overblown yesterday. It was typical Obama banality, left-wing pablum and dressed up as some original thought not quite as dangerous as it sounds. Yet the mere fact the media’s first reaction was to find who LEAKED the story tells me all I need to know. How much more, and things of substance, will come to light after he is elected?

    Sure, Congress is likely to flip in two years. Obama likely won’t be re-elected, either. But it won’t be from a lack of a shield placed around him by the media.

    I agree with you to this extent, #25. Obama will rise to power lawfully (ACORN cheating notwithstanding) through the ballot box. I disagree with your implication that it is because voters agree with his substance. They don’t even know what it is, and would, I think, be appalled by much of it. I could accept a crushing loss after a campaign was waged on ideas, policies, and philosophy. What I cannot accept, and will labor mightily to correct, is a victory based on obfuscation, distortion, and secrecy. That is what appears about to happen.

    Comment by obamathered — 11/3/2008 @ 10:57 pm

  30. Just a note: the educational system has been in the hands of the left for 40 years — since the first baby-boomers got out of college. Trace the decline in labor markets to subsequent generations of semi-literate public high-school grads who score high on self-esteem about scoring very, very poorly on core curriculum mastery exams. The left’s social engineering has culminated in a constituency that can’t discern fact from fiction, frankly, don’t care. Any of you remember “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? The constant mastication of the same, say, 5 ideas in public school, without any real skills mastery. . .Not how Kurt Cobain put it, but that amounts to “entertain us”. . .pay for everything, do it for me. . .

    Comment by Martha Spurlock — 11/3/2008 @ 11:09 pm

  31. Bob Samuelson’s sobering take on the challenges ahead http://www.newsweek.com/id/166821

    Comment by Nagarajan Sivakumar — 11/3/2008 @ 11:45 pm

  32. Reading a post like this reminds me of Ronald Reagan. For all I disliked about the politics of his party and many of his presidential decisions, never could I say that I disliked the man, because his optimism for America and her future never wavered, no matter what the the nay-sayers halfway around the world or in his own movement said to the contrary. Even in his Alzheimer’s Letter, knowing that he was doomed to die in a particularly tragic and lingering fashion, he still managed to beleive in all of us: “…When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be I will face it with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future. I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.”

    Not to compare Mr. Moran to Mr. Reagan, but there is something illuminating by reading the critiques on Rick’s post. A good number of people here claim to be as Conservative as the author of these words, but cannot trust the country and its citizens to make a collective decision contrary to their wishes. Simply put, they lack faith in their fellow Americans. Perhaps that is why I keep on coming back to this blog instead of others that more closely share my political views. Those who love and have faith in the USA, no matter how much their politics collide, know that in the end America will come out stronger than ever. Good job on the post, Rick!

    Comment by Surabaya Stew — 11/4/2008 @ 12:11 am

  33. busboy33,
    Thanks for your words of wisdom. You probably need to understand the meaning of the words “tyranny of a super majority” - a filibuster proof Senate, expanded majorities in the House and a Dem president means that power is solely concentrated with one party. And power ofcourse corrupts. just ask the Republicans who are in for the worst election loss in the last 60 years.

    “I didn’t agree with the “faith based” support groups funded at the government’s expense . . . but it’s not hijacking the country, just a policy I disagree with.”

    Really? Tell that to Barack Obama who is all poised to EXPAND faith based initiatives. let’s see how much you will protest then. Something tells me that your protests are not genuine and are more directed at the people who are responsible (that evil Bush) than the principle itself.

    “Assuming the Evil Left initiate policies you disagree with, are they hijacking the country if they impose greater regulation on industry (as an example)? No. Its just a new direction, one some will disagree with but others don’t. That’s the way the game works.”

    How blase’ !! It’s just a new direction… nothing to look at here folks.. just move right along.. people like you are the reason, this country is going to be facing a 53 Trillion dollar deficit in the next 20 years - Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are going to consume about 40% of the GDP.

    When a few people cried hoarse about how Social Security was an affront to individual liberty/self reliance, the Democratic majority just over-ruled them -after all this is how the “game” works, isnt it ? Guess what - this game is very very costly.

    LBJ was President for 4 years - he added an entitlement bigger than Social Security in that short time! the minority who protested against his “Great Society” were told that they were stupid and inhumane to oppose the “new direction” - in 20 years Medicare will be at an altogether different direction - a dead end.

    And yet here you are complaining about Bush - as though this is an excuse to stop thinking about the issues on hand. Sigh.

    Comment by Nagarajan Sivakumar — 11/4/2008 @ 12:13 am

  34. A thoughtful piece which reminds us that, even in defeat, all is never lost. As a nation we’ve always had to learn to live with adaptations and compromises we once thought intolerable. So long as these contribute to a creative synthesis, rather than a long, sterile retreat, we can take pride in our work as principled conservatives.

    Russel Kirk wrote movingly, and hopefully, of the task Toqueville set himself as he turned to “…the weary and unromantic necessity of reconciling old values with new faiths - the conservative function, so much derided, so difficult to execute, quite indispensable to the survival of civilization.”

    Comment by fred gill — 11/4/2008 @ 12:56 am

  35. There are changes that are probably inevitable, and changes that are the result of choices that we make. To know the difference, we must understand what’s happening, and why.

    For about the thousandth time, I urge anyone who even dreams of being a pundit to get a copy of Philip Bobbitt’s The Shield of Achilles, read the introduction as many times as he has to until he can say “Yes. That should be obvious,” and then spend ten to fifteen evenings really, really reading the book. Bobbitt may not be right about everything, but his central thesis is surely closer to the truth than anything else we’re likely to see. I have to qualify that a little: his central thesis, not the parodies of it by those who have read the book without understanding it.

    No, Bobbitt is not a conservative. He’s a liberal with LBJ in his family tree. But his doesn’t poison this analysis with that background. He achieves, to a great degree, what von Clausewitz called ‘critical analysis’. That is no small thing.

    Comment by njcommuter — 11/4/2008 @ 4:57 am

  36. Rick, I have to start out by saying thank you. Thank you for putting in perspective what I feel has been overshadowed immensely by both the Obama and McCain campaigns in this election cycle. I agree wholeheartedly with you that our great nation has prospered immensely based upon the idea that each generation yearns to make life better for its own children and grandchildren. Each generation, as you put it, “stands on the shoulders of giants as we look to the future”. I, as a 22 year old college student, see the opportunity that I have been given to play my part in reshaping America as a country that I feel like being a part of, that I can mold to fit my own ideals. I further respect the notion that you bring up of change happening no matter who is elected. Much emphasis has been placed on the individual candidates: “such and such will happen if Barack is elected”, “this decision and that decision will be made if McCain is elected”, and so on. However, you have rightly, in my opinion, made the claim that change is coming no matter who wins this election. My nation is no longer the nation that my grandfather, or even my father, grew up knowing. I, as you put it, live in Shakespeare’s “undiscovered country”, a nation that is striving to find its place in the new world order. What will the future bring? I do not know. I do know however, that I am fortunate enough to attend a University that has had the foresight to mold its students to fit this changing world landscape. I have been given a skill set that will allow me to prosper in the job market of the twenty first century. Ideally, I will be able to give to my children and grandchildren what my predecessors gave me: an opportunity to live in a country that is “happy, free, and at peace”. Thank you for keeping it all in perspective.

    Comment by Brendan Lemmon — 11/4/2008 @ 5:34 am

  37. #33

    Busboy doesn’t want to think, he just wants his politics to make him feel superior.

    Comment by Chip — 11/4/2008 @ 7:35 am

  38. An interesting read is Corey Doctorow’s article, “How Hollywood, Congress, And DRM Are Beating Up The American Economy” in Information Week.

    URL: http://www.informationweek.com/news/management/compliance/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=199903173

    Comment by Jerry in Detroit — 11/4/2008 @ 8:15 am

  39. Rick, your view would be easier to accept if the output from our public (and private) educational system were more attuned to our Constitution and its importance. We may, on January 20, be treated to the spectacle of an elected official taking an oath to preserve and protect our Constitution (because that is the only thing that the oath requires him to do), when that same official is on record as fundamentally in disagreement with its embodied principles including judicial restraint, the president’s warmaking powers and others. (I suppose we should be surprised but not shocked, because outright lies and complete misrepresentations are the stock in trade of ideologues of all stripes.) Thirty years ago, that prospect would have been impossible to imagine. Today, few will even see the inconsistency and that deficit in understanding and appreciation for what America ALWAYS was intended to be will open the door to all manner of mischief. People who have lived or whose families have lived under socialist governments understand this on a deep and emotional level and we can only hope that they will turn out today to repudiate even the possibility of that outcome. However, because of the poorly enforced immigration laws, among other causes, we now have a much larger percentage of our citizens who have grown up under and become used to a government that continuously and corruptly re-distributes the wealth of it honest citizens to those in need, and who have been waiting for the United States government to move into that mode. Already some 40% of our legitimate citizens are no longer paying income taxes. It is a matter of (way too little) time before that failure to enforce begins to cost us even more dearly. An Obama administration will, with an effective super majority in both houses of Congress, do more lasting damage to our economy and way of life in two years than most of us can imagine. Most appalingly, the judiciary at all levels will be changed and liberalized even further than it has been to date, thus taking more liberty from us by denying the legislative process. And, since immigration will not be fixed but proably eased in the next two years, a tipping point may well be reached where 50% of our voting citizens no longer pay taxes. That will be the end of the U.S. and its economy as we know it. I am afraid - very afraid - and nothing you have said here assuages that fear.

    Comment by jeremiah — 11/4/2008 @ 9:01 am

  40. The history of the 20th Century does not allow for Mr. Moran’s optimism for the 21st, neither here or abroad. The calling card of the past century was repression, death, loss of liberty, exterminations, and servitude. It was resisted by those who bear little resemblance to contemporary America. Liberty is the aberration of the human condition, servitude is the norm. America, however flawed in its practice of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, will soon put to that statement to the test.

    Comment by Brad — 11/4/2008 @ 9:08 am

  41. @Nagarajan Sivakumar:
    I’m well aware of the dangers of a filibuster/veto-proof majority, nor have I endorsed it as a good thing or something I want or the country needs.

    For some reason, you seem to think that if I favor Obama today, that means that I absolutely worship each and every idea, policy, and goal that either he, the Dem party (of which I am not a member) or the “Left” may subscribe to. Of the two choices (excluding the irrevelant also-rans), I personally do not favor Obama so much as reject McCain/Palin.

    I’d also like to make this clear — I’d have voted for McCain in 2000 if he wasn’t robbed of the nomination (IMO). I had a hell of alot of respect for him, putting him in my top 3 trusted pols list along with Hagel (studied under his brother, and consistently admire his principles whenever he displayed them) and Specter (disagree on many issues, but strikes me as “fair”, whatever that means). 3 Repubs — no Dems. Don’t know why you’re all so terrified of the Donkeys — they’re so incompetent they could have all the seats and they still won’t get a damn thing done except dedicate some new flowerbeds and establish “hug a tree day”.
    Again, I did not agree with McCain’s policies 100% of the time, but I felt I could trust him to be honest . . . or as honest as a politician is going to be. The last year, I can’t say that anymore: Straight-Talk John turned into Sniveling Lying Weasel #6,547 somewhere, and between the cariciture (sp) of a once great man he has become and looking at Palin waiting to be given the launch codes, Obama is the lesser of two evils. Disagree? Bless you your opinion. I’ve been wrong before, no doubt I’ll be wrong again. But this “sinner/saint” binary absolutist mindset espoused by many on the Right is, respectfully, nonsense.

    People like me are the cause of the government’s crushing debt? I assume you pin the nation’s poor fiscal management on me becuase you think I’m a Dem-Leftist-hippie who wants to “go socialist” — based on nothing more than not liking the current makeup of the Repub Party. I’ll play along: What would you suggest? Give the Repubs the checkbook? After all, they’ve got such a good track record for fiscal responsibility. Engaging in two simultaneous wars while cutting taxes — that’s some M.B.A. thinking there.

    Still, I suppose you’re right that its all the Left’s fault. After all, they’re the ones that added the prescription drug benefit to Medicare (and made sure to write the rules so the government couldn’t negotiate for a wholesale discount) potentially tossing another trillion plus on the debt (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A9328-2005Feb8.html) . . . oops. Sorry.
    Well, at least the Repubs intruduced those bills to abolish Social Security like you seem to want and lobbied hard for them, but the Evil Left just kept out manuevering them. Oh, they didn’t? Well, they did investigate steroid use in baseball. I guess you have to have priorities.

    Listen — both parties are stocked to the brim with liars, cheats, self-serving dirtbags, and chowderheads. I don’t think EITHER is the “correct” party. Why do the extremists on either side blame every single problem with the other party? If “people like me” are solely to blame for the national debt, its people like you that took the “free exchange of ideas” and mutated it into “who can chant the loudest”.

    Not that you care, but do you want to know why I’m voting Obama (not that my vote matters — I live in Cali now, and something tells me he doesn’t need my vote to carry the state)? I want these wars concluded We’d have signed the SoF deal with Iraq if the Admin didn’t insist on being legally able to use Iraqi-based troops to attack neighboring countries, then we can focus on Afganistan and finish what we started before somebody decided to pull the troops out to invade Iraq. I want Gitmo closed. Yesterday. It’s going down as one of the greatest National embarassments and humiliations of all time.
    I think I have a better chance of seeing those two goals met with the Blue team this go-round instead of the Red team. Plus, as I said I have so little respect for the Blue’s ability to trip and hit the floor, let alone accomplish anything, that I’m less worried they’ll cause more damage than, say, U.S. Government 2000-2006. But I don’t think the Reds are demonic (except for Cheney). I don’t blame every failing of the government and society at their feet. To paraphrase Rick M — if the Blues win, we aren’t going to become socialist. The government and probably society will swing a bit to the left, then eventually it’ll swing a litle bit to the right. The world will keep spinning.

    Comment by busboy33 — 11/4/2008 @ 9:53 am

  42. Ron C Said:

    “mark30339 wrote: ‘and his share of the US national debt may exceed what he’ll make in a lifetime.’

    Take heart, his actual share of the national debt will be closer to $10 TRILLION/300 million = $32,716 per person.”

    Thanks Ron, I have probably exaggerated. But your numbers are incomplete. The public debt is 10 Trillion as you say, but the unfunded liability for Medicare is about 38 Trillion and about 12 Trillion for Social Security (if you use the accounting private pensions are required to use - see http://www.ncpa.org/pub/st/st263/st263c.html). So by my count, the estimated present value of the US Government’s debt obligations is 60 Trillion. Divide that by 136 Million taxpayers and you get $441,000 per taxpayer.

    Comment by mark30339 — 11/4/2008 @ 11:52 am

  43. I live in Seattle and my politics are as you would expect. I know that Middle America and right-wingers like Rick view us as liberal oddballs. Looking at poll numbers out of various countries yesterday that showed 75% plus support for Obama, however, brought home the fact that we liberals are the normal ones. It’s “conservative” Americans who are the freaks by world standards. Reading Rick’s post and several responses made me understand the reason. There’s lots of talk here about pioneering and taming the frontier. The remaining red states are in the sparsely inhabited parts of America. The trouble is that you people haven’t realized that there is no longer a frontier. You cannot push west because we’re already here and most of you are not particularly welcome to join us. The reality of the 2000’s is that we now live in an environment of constraints, of zeros-sum trade-offs. Europeans have faced this for generations and their politics has adapted to it. The sooner that it sinks into the minds of backward-looking “conservatives” the better off we’ll all be.

    An era of limits? Democrats have tried that - Carter back in the 70’s. All it took was Volker and Reagan to remove the artificial constraints on the economy and we increased GDP by 400% over a quarter of a century. Never been done before at any time in the history of the industrialized world.

    I think you are sincere when you say that but it presupposes the people stand still and don’t innovate, don’t create new opportunities - out of nothing I might add. This lack of faith in the genius of ordinary people is a pretty good base issue for Republicans to run against.


    Comment by Ed — 11/4/2008 @ 1:57 pm

  44. “This lack of faith in the genius of ordinary people is a pretty good base issue for Republicans to run against.”

    Now that I would vote for.
    Careful though Mr. M . . . distill this inspiring sentiment down any more and you’ll be accused of co-opting Obama-esque platitudes. Although considering how apparently successful feel-good sentiments are in this market (is my Internet broken or is he really within 10,000 of taking Missouri and 20,000 of taking NC?), something makes me think we’re going to hear alot of inspiring slogans in 24 months at the next go-round.

    Comment by busboy33 — 11/5/2008 @ 11:16 am

  45. Yes, Carter tried to make the point that we faced constraints in the ’70s. He put forward an energy plan 30 years ago that is now being seen as the correct one. Reagan did defeat Carter’s realism with sunny optimism. He made the nation feel good again, and then he kicked off our descent to the status of the world’s greatest debtor nation.

    The fact that there are constraints in this world will become all too clear in the coming years. I’m glad that we have new leadership with an adult-level understanding of the world to face those challenges.

    Comment by Ed — 11/5/2008 @ 8:52 pm

  46. “#6

    Accounting jobs going overseas? Names, places and companies please. I haven’t heard anything like that.”

    Bel Aire,

    I have worked for a Big Four accounting firm and much of the high volume/flat fee work (i.e. less complex income and sales tax forms) is being shifted to places such as India (much in the same manner as a lot of the pure coding and programming work of software and IT companies). The higher value consulting work regarding more complex accounting and tax advice is staying the U.S. as of now. Corporate clients are increasingly asking for a mix of offshore work in order to hold costs down. There’s no real right or wrong to this - the global marketplace is what it is and you can either work with it to take advantage of the opportunities out there or you ignore it at your peril. The key for any business in the U.S. is to be able to produce more of the high value work that others will pay a premium for. The days of people paying American wages for commoditized services and products that can be replicated elsewhere for a fraction of the price were over long ago (which the labor unions and the fear mongerers in both parties with respect to free trade either don’t understand or are ignoring introductory-level economics to pander to the increasing populist sentiment of Americans).

    That’s not to say that we shouldn’t care for people that have lost their jobs. As someone earlier suggested, the approach that we ought to take is to have the equivalent of the GI Bill or some type of re-training program for older workers to adjust to the new economy. In fact, this was actually suggested by, all of people, Bill Clinton back in 1992 (who for all of his faults, deserves credit for being one of the handful of Democrats who were correct on NAFTA and globalization in general). The problem was that there was an allergic reaction to this suggestion by labor union leadership, who were much more interested in keeping their power than actually helping their members (since, of course, if their members actually received education and new skills, there was a pretty good chance that they wouldn’t be union members any longer). Imagine if these workers at GM, Ford, and similar companies had received skills training 16 years ago - people in places such as Michigan and Ohio would now have the chance to actually participate and benefit from the global economy, as opposed to trying to legislate back jobs that will never return.

    Comment by Frank the Tank — 11/6/2008 @ 10:31 am

  47. One more thing. I find that when “conservatives” talk about Reagan they tend to mythologize, so you need to check their facts. You said that Reagan produced a 400% GDP increase in 25 years which you describe as unprecedented. What you say is not true. First, the 400% is nominal GDP, not real GDP, so it doesn’t mean much. Second, the period from 1950 to 1975 saw a 550% gain in nominal GDP, so the gains after Reagan were inferior. Third, the real GDP gains after Reagan were average to a bit below average for 25 year periods anytime since WWI.

    Of course Reagan’s GDP gains must be weighed against the massive increase in national debt that he ran up. On balance his performance was not that great.

    Comment by Ed — 11/6/2008 @ 2:05 pm

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