Sometimes you yell “stop,” and history doesn’t know enough to listen.
That was our experience Sunday night, when House Democrats passed their health-care bill in an atmosphere befitting an Obama pep rally, complete with chants of “Yes, we can!”
A dispiriting spectacle, to be sure. But I don’t think conservatives have descended into the slough of despond.
How do you suffer such a severe defeat without doing so? The answer is easy: We know that we fought a noble fight, that we won on the merits, and that we’ll be back.
Over the last year, we have seen a great grassroots ferment bubble up in the land, calling for a return to fiscal probity and constitutional principles. The tea-party movement is a model of entrepreneurial citizenship, a refreshing activist jolt to conservatism.
We have seen commonsense conservative candidates win, not just in Virginia, not just in New Jersey, not just in the suburbs of New York City, but in Massachusetts. We have seen the emergence of new conservative stars such as Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan. And we have seen Republicans in the House and the Senate — for all their frustrating inadequacies — unify as one to oppose Obamacare and win the substantive debate over it since last summer.
The bill got through on the strength of the sheer partisan muscle Democrats accumulated in the House in the fall of 2008. Now, as with the stimulus, we’ll watch all of Obama’s golden and unsupportable promises turn to ash. And when Obamacare — like the stimulus — fails, the answer will be more of the same: more mandates and more regulation, more spending and more taxes, more resources and freedoms thrown into the maw of Leviathan.
This isn’t a debate that, as the cliché goes, is just beginning. It’s been going on for the better part of a century, between a Left that identifies justice with the central government and values “fairness” over freedom, and a Right that seeks to protect our liberties from the state and values opportunity over the leveling dictates of government.
If you doubt the stakes, read this alarming cover piece by Mark Steyn, or the essay I wrote a few issues ago with Ramesh. We are in a fight over whether our country will be “fundamentally transformed” or not, and the Left and the media want us to curl up and die.
That’s why this fundraising pitch is a little different. Usually, I play on your (justified!) sense of guilt — it costs us a lot to produce NRO, you’re reading it for free, please help defray our costs, etc. But today, I want to appeal to your sense of defiance. We cannot, we must not, lose the struggle for the country in coming years, and NRO is an indispensable howitzer in our arsenal.
To call NRO’s coverage of the health-care debate energetic is an understatement. We set out not to let a sparrow fall in the debate without covering it, and I believe we succeeded — arming our side with the best arguments, knocking down the fallacies of the Left, and following every wrinkle in the political process from the epic election of Scott Brown to the tawdry, ultimately abandoned expedient of “deem and pass.”
We’re going to be there during the long push for repeal, and for the fall elections, and for every iteration of every fight that matters for America’s future. But we need your help. For those of you who haven’t heard me dilate upon the economics of opinion magazines before, I’ll summarize briefly: They don’t make money. Serious opinion magazines — and their websites — don’t attract high-end advertisers and always live hand-to-mouth unless they have a sugar daddy (we never have).
We have always depended on the kindness of strangers, or I should say the kindness of friends, all those like-minded people who believe in our cause and are willing to chip in to keep us afloat as an exemplar and defender of it. Do I need to tell you that now it’s more important than ever? That if we slide much farther in this direction, what has been most precious about this nation — our liberty and independence from the state — will become a memory?
Please help. Edmund Burke said, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an un-pitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”
Our struggle’s not contemptible and — together — we will prevail yet.
– Rich Lowry is editor of National Review.