Kenneth Hersh is the chief executive of the George W. Bush Presidential Center
“Freedom. Opportunity. Accountability. Compassion.
It is time for the right side of the aisle to focus on timeless principles. As mortals, it is critical to understand our role is as mere custodians of these ideals. Men and women have fought and died for them. When leaders have pursued these values, literally billions of people have been lifted out of poverty, supporting the dignity encased in each person’s soul and satisfying our innate desires to be free and chart our own course.
Conservatism respects dignity, the dignity that comes from self-reliance with an understanding that the true capabilities of government are rather limited. Government does not create wealth. Rather, it helps ensure an environment where free markets and free people can pursue and realize opportunity. …
Importantly, this country needs a strong, compassionate conservative voice to provide a rational alternative to the alt-right sentiment and a counterweight to the progressive left, which, left unchecked, endangers our freedom and economic viability as a nation.
These past months mark a significant milestone. The country moved on from a leader who professed to be a conservative, but exhibited few ideals relating to conservatism. The disruptor’s scorched-earth strategy may have served a purpose, but now it is time to assert ideals that can unite. We must be reminded that conservatism is not racist, nativist or isolationist. …
Successful leaders will embrace an optimistic vision that offers solutions with respect for personal liberty, not one that spews anger, resentment and dependency.”
I thought that I would share this because this blast from the past is a reminder of how far we have traveled over the past 12 years. I’m old enough to remember when the entire Right sounded like this guy 20 years ago. I haven’t changed much at all since 2004. They have changed.
My theory is that the True Cons are going into the night like the Bourbon Democrats faded in the wake of William Jennings Bryan. We are succeeding in reshaping public opinion. The progress that we are making can seem glacial at times, but there was a big change over the last decade and it started well before Trump announced that he was running for president. It is important to remember that the electorate skews significantly older and that Congress is a gerontocracy.
It wasn’t our time yet ten or twenty years ago. There is going to be a big shift in power and influence though over the next five years due to generational turnover. A decade from now, we will look back on Trump’s victory in 2016 as the very beginning of a new populist era in American politics.
Note: The previous two populist eras lasted from roughly 1828 to 1860 (Jacksonian Democracy or the antebellum era) and from 1896 to 1929 (the populist and progressive era). Back then, the media said all the same things about Jackson and Bryan’s followers that they say about us today.