I grew up in rural Mississippi, and was witness to a real American story, fully of both success and failure. My father, like generations of my family before him, was a farmer. Farming was a profession through which my family and prospered and suffered for generations. At the time we were suffering, and he made a bold move. He left that noble and familiar profession into uncharted territory. He started his own business.
It was a bold move. The world was changing, and my family knew it. There was pain in the beginning, pain in the middle, and there’s still pain today. Through it all, he slowly and steadily built a manufacturing business (and we’ve been told we can’t compete with China) that now has a national footprint and an honest to goodness payroll. Some months are good, some are not, but overall it’s a real American success story. And one thing from his journey has stood out to me the most.
“If I’m going to go down, I’m going to go down swinging.”
He told me that one time when things didn’t look too good. He was about to take a gamble and launch a new product line. It was risky, it was unsecured, and he knew that no one from the government was going to run out and bail him out. But he took a swing, a big one. A strong one. I don’t know yet if it was a homerun, but he certainly made contact. He was safe and may yet make it to homeplate. But that’s not the point. The point is, my Dad knew that to hit the ball, you had to take a swing.
He probably didn’t even realize at the time that he was giving me profound advice, but he was. In my young life I’ve taken several swings. Sometimes I connected, sometimes I did not, but I can honestly say that I’ve never been ashamed of being caught looking (if you don’t know Google the phrase . . . make sure that your security settings on).
So why I am writing this at RedState?
Because I care about this country, and I think that we Americans have a lot to learn from my father. No, we didn’t get what we wanted in this latest budget battle. But as Rush pointed out, at least the argument was shifted. Now the battle is not about how much to spend, but how much to cut. The battle is not about how much to expand government, but how much to limit it. The Speaker did compromise, much more than the Tea Party and other conservatives would have liked. Republicans got what they thought they could in a very short term budget resolution without spending too much political capital, they believe. Ok, fine. I can accept that. But the time to act is NOW. The next budget debate will, and should, be epic.
Tying these tangents together, I believe that we Constitutionalists should take this opportunity to make our stand now, for better or worse. And we shouldn’t kid ourselves about the potential outcome. But we shouldn’t let those potential outcomes scare us, either.
What if we get what we want . . . and lose?
Maybe I’m hypersensitive to this, but one thing that bugs me within the Conservative movement are those that claim that if we just “follow our guiding principles” electoral victory will follow in lock step. I do believe this is likely, but I don’t believe that it is certain. We should be prepared to face the fact that if the majority of the contemporary Conservative agenda is won, we could be defeated, and defeated soundly, at the ballot box. We are on the brink (to borrow a phrase from our brave young president) of over 50% of the population paying no federal taxes (AKA, having no ‘skin in the game’, to borrow another phrase from our BYP). As many a political philosopher has observed, once the majority figures out they can vote themselves benefits at the expense of the minority, and actually act upon it, you’re on the slipperiest of slippery slopes to socialism. Frankly, this probably doesn’t sound so bad to a lot of folks. I think they’re wrong, but that won’t likely change their vote. One only needs to listen how many “on the street” folks endorse the definition of Marxism during Hannity’s old Thursday Man on the Street interviews to realize what I’m talking about.
So let’s say a popular wave takes conservatives further into power and we actually can implement a good degree of our agenda. I am absolutely certain that our nation will be better off, stronger, more free, and more prosperous because of it. I am less certain that will translate into immediate electoral rewards. But I’m also to the point where I don’t care. It is time to fight the fight. It is time to take a swing. If we go down swinging, so be it.
Let us make this stand
Going back to the lesson I learned from by father, I believe that right now we either have to make a stand, or fold and surrender. I know like most Constitutionalists, surrender is not in my character. Now is the time to draw our line in the sand. Now is the time to throw political expediency and electoral caution to the wind. If this is to be our end – and let’s not kid ourselves, it very well could be – let us make an end of which we can be proud. Let us not surrender our core beliefs for a false comfort of hollow victory. Let us not compromise on our principles to where they are unrecognizable. Let us take a stand, a mighty swing.
If we hit the ball, maybe it will be an out. Maybe we will go down. But maybe, just maybe, we’ll get on base. Or hit a double. Or hit a Mantle-esque bomb into the parking lot and bust the windshield in some socialist’s Prius. Whatever the outcome, the only way that we can be sure we won’t hit that homerun is to not take a swing.
If we’re to go down, let’s go down swinging.