We can argue whether it was real conservatism or faux and mistaken conservatism that lost the last election in November 2008. Regardless, 28 years of a nominally conservative governing philosophy is the proverbial baby that was thrown out with the bath water. Nor is the current crisis only a partisan political thing. The nation’s economy is the worst since the Great Depression, such that capitalism and even the whole idea of having free markets are under siege and, with this president and ineffectual Congress, at risk. Nobody has done anything either to solve our porous border situation or to rein in illegal, much less legal immigration. The military is run ragged and not even completely transformed to its new generation of equipment or training. Equipment breakdowns across the services are increasing at an alarming rate. Tens of thousands of veterans rightly demand long-term care, and now the government talks about an indiscriminate $500 billion in defense spending over ten years!
All this, when foreign policy challenges are quite serious: from Mexican instability and drug violence spilling over the border; to North Korea feeling its oats and shooting off missiles (at the same time it implodes under demographic pressure and famine); from a crazy man in Iran resisting pressure for democratic change, to the tough guy in Russia killing off political rivals (both shades of Evil Empire); and always that Red Chinese dragon lying in lurch—silently building its military, becoming an economic powerhouse too; not to mention those bad guys we call terrorists lodged in failed or failing states, searching for safe havens to launch future attacks against our people; and least perhaps but very sad, our European brethren who inherited directly the great Western tradition, now losing all religion and becoming a mere secular shell, submitting blithely to self-loathing and to the sense of inevitable decline.
Almost the only thing we can agree with President Obama about is, well yes—this is indeed “a critical moment”! Counter intuitively perhaps, this may also be a most auspicious beginning for the next conservative change making political movement in America. Indeed, it is my strong conviction that it is from this great place, figuratively and geographically nearest to the heart of Texas—it is from this place, that Americans will learn what to do and how they ought to respond to the criticality of this moment. It is from Central and North Central Texas conservatism they will be reminded of certain principles and of what it means to be American in key, essential ways. This conviction is born of a faith that we can and will meet the challenges I’ve mentioned, and any other challenge, if we have the heart; if we give it our all; if we live up to the character of our forebears and invoke the name of the same Almighty, who helped them on behalf of the righteous cause of Liberty.
This State whose battle cry is, “Remember the Alamo!” appreciates and understands this better than any other. This place where the Chisholm Trail runs through knows. Central and North Central Texans have known glory in victory, valor in defeat; they have persisted through tough times, drought, fires and floods. They know if you want to get on with it, sometimes you have to get back up and dust yourself off; and if you want to get from one place to another, you’ve got to ‘get a move on.’ Not all trails lead to the same destination, and few are what we’d call totally “Happy Trails.” Bluebonnets have a short season, as it were. And yet the trail you embark on will convey you, through time and experience—and the same trail that takes you to a new place, dotted with a few other places along the way, can also take you back on your journey home.
The conservative leads his or her country home as it were; or the next best thing, the conservative will pack up the relics, the essential tools, seed corn, keepsakes, brands, favorite recipes, and the family Bible. He or she will stow them safely in the wagon as he heads off to parts yonder or parts unknown. When he gets there, the new home will surely bear a resemblance and continuity with the old, even in the midst of a new environment and more changes to come. In this way, the old remains vital and relevant while still moving forward. And it is not a joyless trek either, because part of the kit involves Texas optimism, as big as the Texas sky.
Texans have a penchant for finding the silver lining, as well as adjusting their own attitudes when necessary—in order to bend nature to the will, and to visualize the prize against any background whatsoever, because they know (to borrow a folk song lyric) that ‘everywhere you go, you take the weather with you.’ Texans are funny that way because they’re cock sure they got the best, no matter what it is or what condition it’s in! Their attitude, if you will, is always more than equal to any task. Which is a good thing, because we shall need this quality in spades. Nevertheless, I tell you from a political standpoint, this is ground zero of the next political Revolution, one that rivals the Jeffersonian and Reagan Revolutions—and this is an exceeding great day to be called a Patriot!