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How to Win the Argument -- Thatcher Style

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

We know we're not happy with our current government. A Rasmussen poll released last week noted that 40 percent of voters are very angry, and 25 percent are somewhat angry "at the current policies of the federal government." Combined, this means two out of every three likely voters are not happy with their government.


So the people who are likely to vote for the politicians, and who pay the politicians, are angry. The result: This fall, politicians will be falling fast.

If it were possible to short elected officials, now would be the time.

We know that we don't like what President Barack Obama is doing to our country. And yes, I meant doing TO our country, not doing FOR our country. This dislike registers as disapproval. His disapproval rating (54 percent) is currently higher than his approval rating (45 percent).

The question is why are we so angry, so disapproving? Not just the obvious why -- too much government, too much spending, too much health care intervention -- but the underlying why. What ails our nation? What is the underlying malaise that is gripping our country?

Instead of trying to bring about "change we can believe in," the Obama administration is trying to change what we believe by attacking American values of hard work, thrift, entrepreneurship and personal responsibility.

The Obama administration's policies are bad. Not in the sense that they are not a good idea, but bad in the sense that the policies are morally corrupting. They take money and control away from people and give it to government bureaucrats, who then decide what should be done. The policies encourage people to be less responsible personally and to rely more on the government.


Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher argued that "socialism itself -- in all its incarnations, wherever and however it was applied -- was morally corrupting," Claire Berlinski wrote in "There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters" (Basic Books, 2008), out this week in paperback. "Socialism turned good citizens into bad ones; it turned strong nations into weak ones; it promoted vice and discouraged virtue ... transformed formerly hardworking and self-reliant men and women into whining, weak and flabby loafers."

"There Is No Alternative" is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how to win the argument against socialism. Republicans are currently debating the surface arguments about programs -- they cost too much, they are not paid for and there is too much government intervention.

The core of the matter is the same today as it was in Great Britain in the 1970s.

The system is morally wrong.

Berlinski said in a telephone conversation with me earlier this week, to defeat Obama in 2012, the Republican nominee will have to be "capable of delivering the message. ... The business of American has always been business." The current administration is "destroying American values, creating people with bad character."


Berlinski believes that someone has to stand up and clearly communicate directly to the American people that the system is bad and that it creates a bad society. That person needs to articulate what it is to be an American, and why we must defend America's core values, why they are good values.

Thatcher had an unwavering confidence to do what she believed was right, an ability to transform situations by moving forward even as she ignored her critics. No one knows from where she got her belief that she had what it took to become prime minister.

And no one knows for sure where such a leader will come from to take up this mantle in the 2012 election.

I asked Berlinski about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's potential to pick up this mantle. Berlinski said Palin has "good instincts, is attractive and charismatic," but is not a potential heir to Thatcher because she does "not inspire confidence" required of a potential president.

So who does Berlinski think could potentially pick up the Thatcher mantle and articulate the importance of the moral imperative? "Right now ... Newt (Gingrich)," she said.

According to Berlinski, Thatcher must have looked around, noticed there was no one else who could do the job and determined that she had what it takes. She was right -- she took on socialism and turned the tide for her country.


Often cited as ignoring her critics and for not reading anything negative written about her personally, Thatcher allowed neither the media nor her opponents to distract her from her goal of standing up for what was right to save Britain.

It's to soon to tell. But it will be interesting to see if Berlinski is right about who can help Save America.

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