Cliff May

Who says you can't have it all? The Democrats, the Left, now have the White House, control of both houses of Congress, a majority of governors' mansions, a majority of state legislatures, the entertainment media, the elite news media, the unions, the educational establishment, the lion's share of the philanthropic community and increasing power over the courts.

Will President-elect Barack H. Obama use this awesome power to strengthen America's defenses in a time of global conflict and repair America's economy in a period of financial distress? Or will his goal be to solidify the Left's grip for the long-term, for example by shutting down conservative talk radio and perhaps other pockets of media resistance, by growing the percentage of Americans dependent on government programs, and by using immigration policy and gerrymandering to create a permanent Democratic majority? Your guess is as good as mine.

Give Obama his due: It is an exceptional politician who can win the support of Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, and Kenneth Duberstein, former chief of staff to President Reagan; of William Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist and Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley, founder of modern conservatism; of Rashid Khalidi, an Israel-hater, and Edgar Bronfman, former head of the World Jewish Congress. Here's a not-very-bold prediction: A year from now, someone is going to be sorely disappointed.

Thomas Jefferson famously said that "every generation needs a new revolution." Could this be ours? I know: On Tuesday, we had an election, not an insurrection. But look up revolution in the dictionary and you'll find it means "change" - sudden, radical or fundamental change. Is that not what Obama has been promising?

The thing about revolutions is that very few succeed. The American Revolution was an exception in large measure because America's founding revolutionaries were not utopians: They believed people had a right to govern themselves -- even if they governed badly. They saw freedom as a means, but didn't claim they could envision the ends. They understood that no system of government, however clever, can guarantee happiness - only the right to pursue that elusive state of being.

The more ambitious French Revolution that soon followed deteriorated into what became known as The Terror - mass executions that Robespierre defended as "prompt, severe, inflexible justice." Pace Zhou Enlai, it is not "too early to say" that the French Revolution was a failure. .

In the 20th century, revolutions in Russian and China failed on a grander scale - millions of innocent people murdered, imprisoned and tortured, again in the name of justice.


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.