Republicans and conservatives are in trouble. The Republican Party is headed back to minority status for the foreseeable future. The conservative insurgency that took over the party, then the nation and, ultimately, reshaped the world will have to regroup from its original position – a plurality faction in a minority party. No, not because of Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney or even John McCain. Not because Rudy Giuliani at his most Reaganesque tempered his optimism with references to 9/11. Not because the writer’s guild strike made Fred Thompson a disappointment. Not because Ron Paul’s promise was dashed by poorly explained opposition to the Iraq War and the support of conspiracy theorists. That the conservative movement has failed to produce an inspiring, electable conservative candidate in one election cycle is a minor setback. (We suffered through 3 election cycles with lukewarm, milquetoast, Rockefeller clones in ’88, ’92 and ’96 and still managed gains in Congress and a win by a real conservative in 2000.)
No, the threat is from the other side. The hard left has produced an inspirational candidate of its own. Worse, the left is relearning something it lost somewhere between the time of John and Bobby and the time of Jimmy and Fritz, something that Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush understood – in the worst of times, Americans don’t want to be told their malaise is incurable, they want to be reminded that they can do anything they set their minds and hearts to achieve. While the Republican candidates and Hillary Clinton are focused on fear mongering, at a time when the nation has never been stronger and the phrase “nothing to fear but fear itself” has never been more apt, one candidate is sounding a theme of optimism that resonates with the American people.
Following are quotes from major speeches by Abraham Lincoln, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy and Barak Obama. Read them, see if you can tell which is which. Hopefully the reading won’t turn you into a Democrat…
If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored – contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man – such as a policy of “don’t care” on a question about which all true men do care…
Now the trumpet summons us again–not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need–not as a call to battle, though embattled we are– but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”–a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.
Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility–I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it–and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.
To me our country is a living, breathing presence, unimpressed by what others say is impossible, proud of its own success, generous, yes and naive, sometimes wrong, never mean and always impatient to provide a better life for its people in a framework of a basic fairness and freedom.
Someone once said that the difference between an American and any other kind of person is that an American lives in anticipation of the future because he knows it will be a great place. Other people fear the future as just a repetition of past failures. There’s a lot of truth in that. If there is one thing we are sure of it is that history need not be relived; that nothing is impossible, and that man is capable of improving his circumstances beyond what we are told is fact.
For when we have faced down impossible odds, when we’ve been told we’re not ready or that we shouldn’t try or that we can’t, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.
It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can.
It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights: Yes, we can.
It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness: Yes, we can.
It was the call of workers who organized, women who reached for the ballot, a president who chose the moon as our new frontier, and a king who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the promised land: Yes, we can…
Well, obviously that’s not Lincoln or Kennedy and for those who haven’t heard it in the last few days, answer here.
Oh, and some of the blame does go to Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and John Gibson, to name a few. Instead of welcoming a new generation of Republican voters, contributors and activists, they rejected them because they disagreed on one issue (an issue where these new voters agreed with old line conservatives like Pat Buchanan). They ridiculed them as “911 truthers” and nuts. These new voters weren’t hardcore conservatives, but they were open minded and impressed by the idealism and optimism of a principled hardcore conservative. Don’t be surprised if, after being treated so shabbily, they take their open minds and listen to the other optimistic voice in the crowd.