Last night I had the pleasure of attending the The American Spectator’s 45th anniversary dinner in Washington, D.C.
During cocktails, the first face I recognized was that of Jeff Lord and I introduced myself. As it turned out, we were assigned the same table and sat next to each other during the dinner. His presence made for an enjoyable evening.
Jeff told me he had a written a rebuttal to my election post-mortem “We’re Not in 1980 Anymore”. I confessed that I had not read his piece. He kindly e-mailed the link which awaited when I returned home late this afternoon noting we had four years to have this discussion. Here is part of what he wrote:
There is abroad in the land — and even here in the pages of The American Spectator with my colleague Aaron Goldstein — the notion that “it’s not 1980 anymore.” Ironically, this is only the 2012 version of the argument that was made against Reagan himself in 1980. It wasn’t 1920 anymore, went the reasoning. Reagan was just an old fashioned man out-of-step with the space-age 1980s.
Which is the political equivalent of saying that because Newton died in 1727 and it is now 285 years later – the law of gravity Newton discovered is no longer relevant. He’s just another irrelevant dead white guy. You know how it goes. “It’s not 1727 anymore.”
Well, I’m glad Jeff brought up Newton because I don’t think he appreciates the gravity of the situation.
It could also be said that Jeff’s argument is a classic case of apples and oranges.
Jeff argues that the conservative principles of 1980 “were also true in 1780 and 1880 and they will be true in 2080. He goes on to argue, “They are to the world of politics and government what Newton’s law of gravity is to the physical world.” Yet politics and government and indeed political science cannot be construed as a science. The laws of physics (of which gravity is a part) are immutable. The laws of politics, government and political science are anything but immutable. There is no equivalent of E=MC2 in political science.
The truth of the matter is that the notion of “all men being created equal” was a pretty radical concept in the 1780s. Before that there were kings and divine rights. It took centuries for the concept of equality to be accepted let alone articulated without fear of imprisonment or death. But even when it was articulated some people were created more equal than others during that time. Over time this principle has been extended to women as well as to racial and religious minorities in this country.
With that said, I do believe that there will one day again be a Republican in the White House and a conservative Republican at that. But while we can learn from 1980 we cannot live in 1980. A conservative, like any other species, has two choices. Adapt or die. That is the gravity of the situation.