Tony Blankley

Of course, for both the left and the right, all our hopes and dreads hinge on how an increasingly volatile American public expresses itself on Election Day. Currently, in head-to-head polling of generic party voting intentions, the Republicans, who had been steadily down by double digits (and by as much as 18 percent) to the Democrats, in the past few months have surged to a 2-3 percent advantage (RealClearPolitics' latest average: 43.3 to 41 percent).

But all is not solidity on the right. In one of the more remarkable entrances into American politics, the "tea party" movement, which did not exist until spring, already has gained a second-place affiliation status in Scott Rasmussen's poll. Last month's numbers: Democratic Party, 36 percent; "tea party," 23 percent; Republican Party, 18 percent.

That number is, if anything, probably understated, because the polling respondents are taken from voter registration lists. And based on what I have observed while attending "tea party" events (and from other sources), it is my sense that many "tea party" people may not even have registered to vote in the past. (They are registering now, by golly.)

Keep in mind that they have no national leaders -- no billionaire Ross Perot type, no nationally admired Barry Goldwater type. Of course, individuals are stepping up across the country to help organize. But they are the purest example of what Thomas Jefferson might have called an aroused yeomanry (back then, the small freeholders who cultivated their own land). They are a reaction (in the very best sense of the word) to the ongoing attempted power grab by Washington of a free people's wealth and rights.

In the aftermath of the economic collapse and the election of a glamorous young president -- who seemed to many people to be a fresh force, unentangled with entrenched special interests (emphatically not my view, during the election or afterward) -- the country could have gone one of two ways: Fearing the rigors of economic hard times, people could have sought shelter under the wing of a stronger government (as Americans did during the Great Depression), or fearing the power of government, they could have sought shelter in freedom -- come what may economically.

It may turn out to be one of the most important facts of the 21st century that the American people -- as exemplified by, but not limited to, the "tea party" fighters -- came down on the side of freedom over fear. I don't know that there is another people on the planet who would have had a similar impulse and judgment. It is, to use a word, exceptional (as in "American exceptionalism").

It is why we live in hope this Christmas season that we may yet claw back our government in time to protect our grandchildren's freedom and prosperity.

"Yet, Freedom! yet thy banner, torn, but flying,

Streams like the thunder-storm against the wind." -- Lord George Gordon Byron

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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