Many have discussed whether certain candidates have "fire in the belly." What I'm wondering is whether, at this point in our national history, conservatives in general have fire in their bellies.
Given Gov. Mike Huckabee's remarkable performance so far in the GOP presidential contest in the name of conservatism, and especially after seeing his interview on the "Tonight Show," I question how brightly that flame is flickering.
When Ronald Reagan was running for president in 1980, conservatives had more reasons to be discontent. We had been conditioned to believe that inviolable economic principles dictated that there was a necessary trade-off between unemployment and inflation: You couldn't decrease one without increasing the other.
The Carter years were characterized by full-blown pessimism. Interest rates, inflation and unemployment all soared. Nuclear-freeze liberals were hell-bent on our unilateral disarmament. The ravages of the Warren Court were in full bloom, and the Republican Party was mired in the taint of the Watergate scandals.
Ronald Reagan came along and offered hope. He refused to acquiesce to the defeatism of the period. He refused to accept that half the world would remain under the tyrannical hand of global communism. He revived the latent conservatism in the hearts of the "silent majority" by proclaiming and proving that neither America nor American ideals were dead; they only needed permission to breathe again.
Reagan both campaigned and governed on the power of ideas. Since the Reagan tax cuts first kicked in, other than a few relatively short hiccups, we've enjoyed unprecedented economic growth without substantial inflation. That growth, coupled with the build-up of our military, laid the foundation for the inevitable demise of the Soviet Empire. In just a short decade, America and the world had turned around.
I fear our successes, which are largely due to conservative policies, have led to our complacency. When things are going well, it is easy to take for granted or forget the principles that made it all possible.