Of course, as I often noted on my radio show, I prefer the foolish to the destructive. But, still, being a Republican engendered little pride.
That all changed in the past year. President Obama and his left-wing party have given his country three enormous gifts:
First, they created a level of political/moral clarity that it has not had in this baby boomer's lifetime.
Second, they induced a consequent eruption of conservative activism -- i.e., activism on behalf of limited government -- that may be greater than at any time since the founding of the country.
And third, they are producing a Republican Party that actually stands for something other than being an alternative to the Democratic Party.
The latter was demonstrated first and foremost in its unanimity in opposing the Obama-led attempts to, in his words, "fundamentally transform" America. I don't think any political observer would have predicted that not one Republican senator or congressman would vote for the Democrats' 2,000-plus pages of new federal regulations, of controls over Americans' medical decisions and of massive increased debt.
This was an astonishing accomplishment. It was obviously a credit to the Republican leadership. But most of all, it said that every single Republican was prepared to fight the left, whatever the political cost.
And to whatever extent Republican politicians found their moral and philosophical moorings, the Republican voter did so at least as much. Republican voters announced that they prefer to lose an election than have a Republican who in any way supported expansion of the federal government. Whether this was wise in every case is not my subject here. The subject is the moral/political clarity and the desire to fight for it among Republican politicians and Republican voters.
And if all this is not enough to fill a Republican with pride, there is a development that is as dramatic and unforeseeable as was the unanimity of Republican opposition to the transformational Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda: The quality of many Republican senatorial and congressional candidates in the 2010 election is the highest in modern memory.
So angry are many Americans at what the left is trying to do to America that spectacularly bright and accomplished individuals from every walk of life have decided to leave their professions and run for office.
There may not be anything like it in modern American history, and there is certainly nothing like it in the Democratic Party, whose candidates for office are overwhelmingly career politicians whose political lives are largely devoted -- however sincere their desire to help people may be -- to giving the public's money to people who vote for them.
In Alaska, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Joe Miller has a resume that reads like something a Hollywood screenwriter would make up. He was awarded a bronze star for his military service and is a judge who graduated Yale Law School.
In Arizona, a rocket scientist -- yes, a physicist and rocket scientist -- has decided to leave the world of science to run in a 55 percent Hispanic district against a Democratic Hispanic congressman. She (yes, she) is another candidate from central casting. When I spoke to Ruth McClung on my radio show, I was struck by her seriousness, her lack of any political guile and her intellectual depth.
In California, two powerhouse women, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, are the Republican candidates for senator and governor respectively. The erudite, deep and accomplished Fiorina is on an incomparably higher level than Sen. Barbara Boxer, whose professional life has been largely devoted to getting elected. The same can be said about the comparison between Whitman and Jerry Brown.
In South Carolina, a small-business man named Tim Scott is the Republican candidate for South Carolina's first congressional district. He is witty and thoughtful -- read the UK's Daily Telegraph's feature article on him -- and, by the way, black.
In Michigan, the Republican candidate against John Dingell is Rob Steele, a distinguished cardiologist.
In Florida, in the Tampa Bay area, the Republican congressional candidate is Mike Prendergast, a recently retired Army colonel with 31 years of active duty experience.
This is a small, almost random sample of the impressive Republican candidates coming from outside politics.
This is a great time to be a Republican. Thank you, President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid. You know not what you have done.