Indeed, it seems that only nerdy disciples of German economist Friedrich Hayek remember there is a closely tied relationship between economic and political liberties. Far too many people believe we can continue to piggyback on our legacy of freedom, which is made possible by limited government no matter how big and intrusive government becomes. They believe we can undermine, with impunity, the constitutional pillars that guaranty our liberties, apparently assuming our glorious experiment in constitutional governance was an accident of geography or demographics rather than ideas. They believe we will always be the world's lone superpower irrespective of whether we commit our spirit and resources to that effort. It's just manifest destiny -- or magic. Consider, for example, those who interpret our prevention of further major terrorist attacks on our soil since 9/11 as proof the threat has diminished, or perhaps was overblown from the beginning.
We expect liberals to believe: We can punish the producers in this nation without reducing overall output and hurting all economic groups; we can socialize health care without destroying its quality, quantity and affordability; we can assault our traditional values and cultural institutions without eroding the nation's character; unbridled, illegal immigration without assimilation will lead to multicultural Nirvana; and we will be secure at home if we'll just be nicer to foreign nations and more sensitive to the terrorists' concerns.
But what about conservatives? Do we also need a reminder that free nations are the exception in world history and that our liberty was purchased with the greatest sacrifices and will ultimately disappear without a rededication to our founding principles?
I would assume conservatives agree that America's best hope for continued greatness lies in its foundational ideals and that conservatism offers the best path for the preservation of those ideals.
Their preservation does not depend on everyone holding hands and getting along, bipartisanship, Senate collegiality, a better understanding of the evil little mind of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or blinding ourselves to other evils that exist in the world.
That's why it troubles me when the ostensibly conservative Mike Huckabee tells Jay Leno he wants us to abandon "horizontal politics. Everything in this country is not left, right, liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican. I think the country is looking for somebody who is vertical, who is thinking, 'Let's take America up and not down.'"
It's perfectly fine for Mike Huckabee to make such pronouncements. I just hope conservatives understand that what takes America "up" are conservative principles -- and that it will always be necessary to fight for those principles against those who don't fully understand them or who are committed to their defeat.
Even we conservatives need to remind ourselves, from time to time, what brought us to the dance.