But who will determine the ideas that will supplant the failed Progressive project and repair the damage it has wrought? Milton Friedman gave us an answer in the 2002 preface to his 1962 classic, Capitalism and Freedom:
"Only a crisis -- actual or perceived -- produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable."
Of course, Friedman knew full well that ideas are never just “lying around,” but are the carefully calibrated ammunition in an endless battle. They come from thinkers on the right who produce books such as Capitalism and Freedom, and from think tanks.
Why think tanks? Well, consider the two main alternatives. Members of Congress, even conservative members, are usually the last ones to promote ideas bold enough to repair the mess liberals have made. Colleges and universities, meanwhile, tend to be sanctuaries for the most devout apostles of the Progressive faith. They're unlikely to overturn their cherished worldview and offer alternatives.
As fed-up voters send more conservatives to Congress, and as Progressivism's slow-motion train wreck continues, expect to see increased calls from policymakers for ideas from the right. After all, we have plenty of practical, powerful ideas lying around.
Ed Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org).