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Rx For Conservatives

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

Dear Conservative,

Yes, I know, these are times that try conservatives' souls. The sunshine soldiers left long ago, and we survivors are left to sit on the ground and tell sad stories of the death of our favorite theories. I get a lot of calls from patients like you, still in mourning after the presidential election. Here is Dr. Greenberg's Rx for the political blues:


Remember that the political pendulum swings back as surely as it did forth, this time after a long period when conservative ideas -- and candidates -- were in the ascendant.

It's that old Hegelian three-step: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. In short, things change. And isn't it a relief to be out of power for a change? You can almost feel the decompression.

Yes, we're still to blame for the economic tumult, the wars and threats of wars, all the troubles in the world ... but soon enough the grand disillusion with the next administration will set in on the usual fringes of American public opinion. It's already begun with the criticism of the president-elect's first appointments or even possible appointments.

Only weeks ago, some of these critics were his most fervent fans. Conspiracists may change their target; they remain conspiracists. Let's just do what we can to make sure we're not embarking on another eight-year hatefest, shall we?

That sort of thing grows tiresome. And repetitive. Only the name of the of the president changes. ("WASHINGTON -- A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist or fascist dictatorship...." --Newsmax, November 10, 2008.)


Oh, please. The election results of 2008 are but the mirror image of those of 1994, which were going to change everything, too. All that's happened is that the pendulum has just swung an equal but opposite distance. Remember the surest observation to make at every turn in human affairs: This, too, will pass.

Patience is the best prescription. But if that doesn't work right away, try an aspirin and don't call me in the morning. We political medics have more serious afflictions to tend to, like the hubris sure to affect the victors. Happens every time.

When this sense of depression, too, passes, and it will, just remember to avoid its equal but opposite delusion: euphoria. It's even more hallucinatory.

In the meantime, consider a sip -- only a sip, mind you, for medicinal purposes only -- of single malt in the evenings. Never drink alone or for consolation. Good whisky was made for celebrating with friends, not moping. Used for self-medication, it only prolongs the agony, and makes a man eloquent only to himself.

A better suggestion: Pick up a volume of Epictetus: "Events themselves do not hurt or hinder us. It is how we respond to them that matters. We make ourselves miserable by fretting about things over which we have no control, while neglecting those things that we can control, like our reactions. Learn to distinguish between the two." That may be a loose translation, but you get the gist.


Another always relevant piece of counsel, author unknown: Win as though you were used to it and lose as if you liked it.

In short, let nothing you dismay.

And, no, I wouldn't turn to the Psalms just yet, not for any sorrow as ephemeral as the outcome of an election. Except to marvel at their literary quality, and their universal applicability when one needs a very present help in trouble. But be sure to use only the KJV brand. Accept no substitutes like the Revised Standard or some other generic version.

Save the Psalms for when you really need 'em -- for some serious crisis. Believe me, one will come. It's the human condition.


Inky Wretch

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