Nail On The Head

Claudia Rosett: It's Time To Restore Liberty

What were those McCain supporters voting for? Rather than reverting to the zillion polls of recent months, which centered on the platforms put forward by the candidates, I'll hazard a guess--based on what was missing from this campaign, and seems to have all but vanished from the main stage of American politics.

That would be the straightforward love and defense of individual liberty, with its attendant freedom to take risks, and responsibility for the results. And here I stress individual. Not the chant of the crowd, but that basic American passion for individual life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That was the true significance of Joe the Plumber: not tax rates, but a government that protecs our ability to live our lives, rather than telling us how to live it.

I doubt most McCain supporters cast their votes based chiefly on comparative health care plans or fine points of climate policy. I think they were voting for the closest thing they could get to a politician who believes that collective efforts are best confined to the common defense of the nation, not to confiscatory wealth transfers among interest groups.

Certainly that's what I was voting for. That and --closely related-- the defense of the principle that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life.... Dedication to that ideal is what makes America unique. If we're going to throw it over, there's nothing else worth fighting for...or even busting one's tail for.

Obama has called repeatedly upon America's people to sacrifice. What's not yet clear is whether this will entail sacrifice in the common defense of liberty, or whether it is liberty itself that will step by step be sacrificed in the name of the common good. If the latter, the implications are indeed world-changing. For the past century, America has stood as the world's great bulwark of freedom. That can no longer be taken as a given. Americans will be hard pressed to support freedom elsewhere if they do not protect it at home.


Right now, the temptation will be great to turn on each other and then look for ways to climb back onto the gravy train that Washington has become.

What this country needs now is something much bigger than that. The field is wide open for a new generation on the right to start all over again--in the tradition of Ronald Reagan, free men and free markets--speaking to the voters who might still prize a vision of America that was not clearly offered in this campaign.

How to do that is a tough question with the left now dominant in Washington, academia and the media. But if America is to remain a great nation, what must somehow be restored as the centerpiece of the nation's goals is not collective "change," but individual liberty.