Perspective For The Tea Party

David Frum addresses his critics:

If it’s true that we are minutes away from collapsing into soft tyranny despite the election victories of 1980 and 1984 and 1988 and 1994 and so on, then you almost have to wonder: what’s the point? We’re just doomed, history runs one way, the ratchet is always ratcheting. If our victories are only temporary, and theirs are always permanent, then they’re fated to win sooner or later.

I do not believe in the ratchet. I think conservatives have won big and enduring victories – and that they can win big and enduring victories again. We have a freer economy in 2010, despite President Obama, than we did in 1980, never mind 1960.

I don’t think it is “acquiescence” to urge an accurate assessment of conservatism’s real political strength. I want Republicans to win elections and defend limited government. But falsely telling yourself that there’s a tea party majority out there is not a way to accomplish these ends. It’s a way toward more debacles like the reverse Waterloo of healthcare.

One of the curious things about the Tea Party right is its inability to appreciate the enduring victories that conservatism and free markets have won. Listening to its critiques of President Obama, you'd think that socialism was the likely endpoint of his tenure as opposed to a thoroughly discredited economic philosophy.

The challenge that remains -- reining in spending and the size of government -- is something that Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich and George W. Bush failed to do. The fact that Obama is the latest president to add to the problem doesn't mean every conservative gain of the last two generations is being erased.