Time for a Little Optimism

David Strom

10/24/2007 1:38:37 PM - David Strom

We live in the most prosperous place at the most prosperous and creative time in world history.

Yet everywhere I turn, I see conservatives and libertarians down in the mouth about the prospects for progress for increasing freedom and prosperity around the world.

Something is very wrong with this picture.

Sure, Republicans got shellacked in the last election, but who among us doubts that they deserved to? President Bush had nominated Harriet Meyers for the Supreme Court, failed to even push for his promised overhaul of the Social Security and Tax Systems, and Congressional Republicans had gone on a spending spree unparalleled in human history outside of wartime.

The conservative movement hadn’t failed. Republican politicians had failed, and there are consequences to failure.

But let’s look at the big picture. The world economy is growing at a staggering rate and despite the worries of a few people undereducated in economics that is going to be a very good thing in the long term for the United States.

China has managed to get 450 million people out of abject poverty in about a generation, Europeans are waking up to the reality that their creaky welfare states are demographic disasters in waiting, and are slowly moving in the right direction in economic policies. Much of Latin America is rejecting the call of Cuba and Venezuela to adopt socialism, and it they had their druthers they would integrate their economies more, not less, in the North American capitalist zone.

Technology is disaggregating power, including the power to dominate communications and propaganda tools such as the newspapers and television. And despite the fact that our government-run education system is a national disgrace, it is failing miserably to indoctrinate our children against the power and wonders of freedom and capitalism.

The darkest cloud on the horizon is the looming health care expenditures that the government is expected to take on, and the possibility that a liberal congress and President could somehow nationalize health care.

These are scary thoughts, but unlikely realities. The appetite average Americans have for higher taxes and more substandard government services is very low.

In other words, the “big trends” in world history are going our way. The American way of life and doing business is spreading at an amazing rate around the world and throughout our country, as entrepreneurs create new companies and new value every day. The people, in general, “get it.”

It is the politicians who don’t. In fact, to a great degree the very temperament that makes somebody likely to run for office makes them an unlikely candidate for shrinking government. It is often, even usually, that it is a desire for power that motivates candidates. It is the need to limit government power that lies at the root of the conservative insight.

The good news is that Americans are sick and tired of phony politicians who cater to public opinion in order to gain votes. They are, in fact, hungering for candor and leadership, a willingness to assert American values at home and protect them abroad.

And therein lays the hope and room for optimism. If we can recruit articulate, conservative, and principled candidates for political office, the future will be ours. The external conditions are all in our favor; all but the most rabid leftists are generally in favor of freedom and free markets.

The future is in our hands. Each of us needs to get involved in the political process—especially the candidate recruitment process—or we will be faced with more mediocrity and deadweight loss to our economic and political freedoms.