The extraordinary suffering of the people in Haiti dwarfs any political story, even the single most significant non-presidential election of my lifetime and the most surprising one period, which is how I describe Scott Brown's triumph in Massachusetts on Tuesday.
As different as they are, however, they are connected at a very basic level.
The surge of American troops, supplies and relief heading towards and now arriving in Haiti have an origin in the American character and a source in the American economy. The tens of millions of dollars in aid are flowing out of American surplus, the sort of economic surplus that hundreds of years of relatively unfettered capitalism have produced. The ships carry comfort and saving medicines are funded by a defense budget that depends upon an American economy that remains the world's marvel. The doctors, nurses, medics rushing to the country have been trained in an American health care system that is the planet's standard for excellence.
And all of it is flowing out of a generous national spirit that reflects the country's deeply compassionate religious roots, which while primarily Christian are also fed by other religious traditions that emphasize selfless service in the same manner that the teachings of Christ do.
Only America is responding on the scale that it is because only America can and does. Other country's make commitments and send supplies and they are welcome.
But the only nation in the world ready, willing and able to rescue as best it can an entire country is America.
From the U.S.S. Carl Vinson to Team Rubicon --read about this amazing group of Americans here and at Blackfive.net-- an extraordinary array of Americans from a spectrum of agencies and organizations have turned their wills to saving Haitian lives. This is a profoundly good thing, and one in which every American can take considerable, justified pride. Ours is a great and good nation.The vast majority of us --Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike-- want to keep it that way. We have different views on how to accomplish that end, but the result in Massachusetts seems a clear message to D.C. that those voters, like the ones before them in Virginia and New jersey, believe that the new Democratic president and the new Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate are headed in a very wrong direction when it comes to preserving the America that allows for such outpourings of generosity and such effective and varied channels of response.
Scott Brown's victory speech summed up much of what is driving the political counter-revolution to the one attempted by the president and his allies. His supporters and the vast army of like minded voters across the U.S. do not want Obamacare not because they aren't compassionate but because they believe it will destroy American medicine, and not just for us and our children, but for the world that depends on its inventions and practitioners.
That same vast army is deeply troubled by the gigantic scale of spending underway, by the power grabs at GM and elsewhere, the populist rhetoric aimed at productive people and enterprises, and by the harsh rhetoric of the president and his team. They are troubled by the brass knuckled politics and the back room deals. They are angry at the contemptuousness with which the minority has been dealt and by the transparent cronyism of the special interest deals that are piling up atop one another.
Voters and activists are thus committed to preserving the center-right America that is capable of vast accomplishments and a great future. The vote in Massachusetts was in reality a vote for preserving a country that can afford to rush to Haiti's assistance while simultaneously checking evil around the world and unleashing the enormous productivity of free men and women.
That political movement, now fully awake and connected, will not accept a watered down version of Obamacare or a less abusive tax on banks or years of government-run automobile manufacturing. Democrats have just a little time to return their part to the center. Most Republicans are hoping they will, even if it takes some of the energy out of the movement that swept through Massachusetts this month.