For me, this is an epiphany of sorts. Not that I have changed my mind about the things I wrote in "The Conservative Soul." Not that I have stopped believing in limited government, individual freedom, personal responsibility, pragmatic change. But I have come to believe that large swathes of today's conservative movement truly are hateful. A reader writes:
I'll state right away that I am a McCain supporter. Still, I am very much drawn to Obama. It's not a silly, unthinking attraction. It has nothing to do with his race, and I have very little love for the Democratic party. I am also aware that he, in many ways, is just another politician. In other ways, he is anything but another politician.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), I was at my bank when Obama began his speech. I sat down with a group of people (all white, male and female) and watched. The collective groans coming from the group surprised me. Even when Obama was reaching out, saying things I felt were absolutely true, sincere and conciliatory, he was met with derision.
A couple people felt the need to talk back to the television as if Obama could hear them (as if their opinions were appropriate at that moment). This was done in public, in the midwest. A fairly moderate town overall. Maybe I'm out of touch, but what has happened over the past 16 years to my country?
Then I left, got in my car, turned on the radio and already Laura Ingram was taking soundbites of Obama's speech and mocking them, dismissing them out of hand while her listeners chimed in, supporting their queen of talk. I hate this all so much. But then I remembered that Obama will still probably get the nomination and face McCain. One is already great man, the other, Obama, may have taken his first step on his way to greatness. I hope America was listening.
I am immensely grateful that McCain is the nominee, because he is a far bigger man than many in the "conservative" movement today. To read the Corner today was to be reminded that some are immune to the grace and hope and civility that Reagan summoned at his best; the anger and bitterness is so palpably fueled by fear and racism it really does mark a moment of revelation to me.