Winston Churchill, when asked if the Allied victory in North Africa was the beginning of the end of World War II, replied “No, but it may be the end of the beginning.” Despite yesterday’s disappointing results, American Exceptionalism is not at an end. I’m not even quite ready to say it’s at the beginning of the end.
But this election marks a significant shift in our culture; and that shift is the end of the beginning of this great American experiment. We have gone from a majority that respects freedom and responsibility to a majority that envies success and covets power.
If you’re like me by about 8:00 last night you felt like you’d been kicked in the gut. How could so many of our fellow countrymen and Montanans – Montanans for crying out loud! – be ready to toss out the principles that made this country great and become mere cogs in a vast machine run by government overseers and their cronies?
And why should any of us continue to fight for those principles when most Americans today clearly don’t understand or value them?
I’ll leave it to pundits and shrinks to answer the first question. I have my own ideas on why people so willingly trade freedom for security, confuse likeability with competency, and don’t take the time or mental effort to understand the complex issues we face today. But regardless of the reasons, that’s where we are.
The question is, what do those of us who care about freedom, who understand what makes this country different and great do about it? Do we take our toys and go home: disengage, get off the grid and let the country and culture drive itself off the cliff?
Many of us who have worked hard, saved, and planned ahead in case of uncertain times have the option to step aside, live simpler lives, and watch the train go over the edge.
And I’ll be honest. My first reaction last night was “To hell with them all. If they can’t figure it out why should I care anymore.”
But that’s not who I am; and if you’ve read this far I doubt it’s who you are, either.
I had two maxims during my Naval career that got me through many difficult times: from months of being yelled at by a Marine drill sergeant, to endless months boring circles in and over oceans around the world, to twenty four hour operations in hot zones. They’re simple – almost Sophomoric – but they’re true: “Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems,” and “This too shall pass.”
Remember how you felt in 2008. It was bad and we’re worse off now. But we’re still here. The feelings of disappointment, gloom, and even betrayal soften. Thoughts turn to the future.
We’ll survive despite some hard times ahead. But we don’t want to go through this again.
Do your grieving and get on with the task at hand.
It’s the end of the beginning. We’ve entered a new phase in the battle for America and I for one am not ready to surrender.
With great risk comes great opportunity, but not certain success. That’s why they call it risk. We need to recognize that the culture has shifted and meet that shift head on. We need to get past short term political opportunism and invest in demonstrating the inevitable human tragedies that will result from the coming policies out of Washington and the possibility of continued failed policies coming out of Helena (the votes aren’t all in as I write this).
People are voting with their hearts, not their heads. We need to reach their hearts so that we can engage their heads.
We will do our part at MPI to ensure that you and state leaders have ideas and options to return to the principles that made this country the Shining City on the Hill and Montana its crown jewel. But as we’ve seen, great ideas are not enough.
The culture is the key. Montanans must understand the grave issues facing our state and nation, and how the current path toward centralized control, dependency on the state and decline of the private sector affect them personally. That takes constant engagement and reaching people where they are, not where we want them to be.
And it means playing offense, not defense! For too long we’ve assumed people would do the right thing if they just had the facts. Facts are necessary but insufficient. We need to actively work to create a culture of freedom and build a bench of future leaders whose guiding principles go beyond getting into office. We need to build a Freedom Majority that feels with their hearts and votes with their heads.
The Montana Policy Institute will be on the front lines, informing and persuading taxpayers and leaders to put freedom ahead of free stuff, to win the battle of ideas that leads to victories in the battle for leadership. We need you to continue to stand with us, and to encourage others to help make that effort decisive by supporting the Montana Policy Institute.
You can start right now by forwarding this email to five friends letting them know you care about our freedoms, and asking them to join the battle for ideas that is so crucial to Montana’s future.
Let’s step up to ensure that Tuesday, November 6th 2012 becomes a tipping point for the restoration of freedom in America and a legacy of opportunity in Montana; that the end of the beginning in American Exceptionalism is the beginning of the end for statism and tyranny!