For a mild-mannered Englishman, I rant a lot, I know. And, with your help, I’ll be able to continue to do so whenever something rant-worthy comes up.
Instinctively, I am not a political person. Left to my own devices, I would likely play music, or watch sports, or drink wine, or tinker with golf carts or computers or the plumbing system inside my house. But, in modern America, I am rarely left to my own devices. Instead, I am pulled relentlessly into whatever social experiment is deemed to be de rigueur this month. There I go, minding my own business, and along comes someone to explain that, if I don’t mind awfully, he’d rather like to abolish the Senate or the Supreme Court, or to take over the functions that have been reserved to the state in which I live, or to take away my power to elect the president, or to repeal the Second Amendment, or to institute hate-speech legislation, or to abolish the police, or to write rank racial discrimination into law, and, before I know it, I’ve been taken out of my reverie and forced to misquote Trotsky by concluding that, while I may not be especially interested in politics, politics seems jolly interested in me.
It is, of course, true that I could elect to ignore these incursions. But, if I did, I suspect that it wouldn’t be too long before I’d be adversely affected by them. Thomas Paine wrote that “we have it in our power to begin the world over again.” But, with all due respect to the man, this really is a load of old cobblers. We don’t, in fact, have such a power — and, as history shows, when we try to exercise it nevertheless, we invariably screw everything up. It is not an accident that the United States is the richest and freest nation in the world; it is a choice. The glories of this country are the direct result of our having established a creed (the Declaration of Independence), a set of political rules (the Constitution), and a set of economic standards (free markets under law) that correctly comprehend how human nature actually is, as opposed to how the utopians among us would like it to be. As did Calvin Coolidge, I believe that these observations are “final,” and, therefore, that they are ineligible to be updated into “something more modern.” They have, as Coolidge observed, “met, and met successfully, the test of experience,” which means that our job is fairly simple: to “reaffirm and reestablish those old theories and principles which time and the unerring logic of events have demonstrated to be sound.”
And if we don’t? We lose them — forever, probably.
Which, frankly, is not a risk I am willing to take. If, like me, you believe without irony, exaggeration, or caveat, that the United States of America remains the last, great hope of mankind, then you have no choice but to fight those who would “transform” it. If, like me, you believe that America was exceptional before its Founding, was exceptional at the time of its Founding, has been exceptional throughout its 250-year history, and remains exceptional to this day, then you have no choice but to resist the entreaties of those who consider its run thus far to have been a pernicious lie. If, like me, you believe that the world benefits enormously from American leadership — and that, if and when we reach the point at which another nation is in the driving seat, we will regret it enormously — then you have no choice but to try to keep it on top. And if, like me, you believe that the American system of government — which represents the only remaining ossification of core Anglo-American ideals in the world — is a work of astonishing genius that must not be tinkered with for temporary political gain, then you have no choice but to defend it to the hilt. I cannot prove this, but I suspect somewhere in my bones that we will get just one shot at America — one — and that if it goes, then so does the classically liberal order that has done wonders for the world.
And so, like my colleagues here at National Review, I wake up each day, drink some coffee, and get busy pushing back against the vandals as hard as I possibly can. As it has been for more than 65 years, this is only possible because of readers such as yourself. We hope that you will help us stick around for another 65 by contributing to our webathon.