by Joe Tortorici
By Definition –
I bet you’ve heard this one: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
All I ask is for the Democratic Party to carefully consider the last eighteen years of getting the crap beat out of them by the Republican Party. It’s time to consider a tactical change. I’m not asking for riots and insurrection, but how about a modicum of unified resistance and the occasional raised voice. You know, just for a change.
The Democrat’s ineptitude is only half the problem. I long for the classic age of conservative giants, the enlightenment of Dwight Eisenhower. Nixon carried the international gravitas of his former boss throughout his life, but Ike was the “General.” Things got done. Optimism and confidence reigned. The economy was balanced. Ike understood how to be a president for everyone.
What happened to conservatives? The Tea Party was not wrong to seek inspiration from our political history. The contrast is we should look toward an authentic past, not an invented one. For all of its bluster, the Tea Party proved itself unwise with the minutia of actually governing.
I refer to sociologist Robert A. Nisbet’s 1953 book “The Quest for Community.” Nisbet was a major architect of postwar conservative thought. What terrified Nisbet were the efforts of the twentieth century’s central ideologies, Communism and Nazism, to create artificial forms of community built on “force and terror.”
“Freedom cannot be maintained in a monolithic society,” he wrote. “Pluralism and diversity of experience are the essence of true freedom. Neither moral values nor fellowship nor freedom can easily flourish apart from the existence of diverse communities each capable of enlisting the loyalties of its members.”
“Our historic struggles to overcome imperfections and injustices are no less a part of our greatness, and yes, exceptionalism. Just like our moments of triumph and unity.”
Freedom and a healthy brand of conservative individualism depend on a strong sense of community. We need to distinguish between brands of contemporary conservatism that have embraced radical individualism, rather than the broader conservative tradition.
There has been a default on the progressive side of politics in embracing an American past that is, at heart, a story about liberty, equality, and community, and our efforts to advance all three while struggling to keep them in balance. The progressive alliance needs to be strident with its message.
Are we, by definition, insane? We continue to act out the beliefs of our founding document, hoping for a perfect state of being. There is no “perfect.” There is only a living, breathing body of people with a stake in the future. The most sane thing we can do is vote.