…This sense of a people defeating appalling obstacles, through their own efforts and the hand of providence, is as old as Moses. As Conan Doyle implies, it is central to the story of the English-speaking peoples. Even today, it is what makes America new in each generation. Barack Obama does not believe in it – he does not even like it. Mitt Romney does.
What the media see as a “gaffe” is often, in reality, a challenge to the dominant orthodoxy. In the late Seventies, Margaret Thatcher made the gaffe of questioning the motives of the Soviet Union when everyone else was mad about détente. She made the gaffe of questioning incomes policies when most people said they were the only way of stopping inflation. After a while, she piled up enough gaffes to make sure that she won the general election of 1979. In the United States in 1980, Ronald Reagan made those sorts of gaffes, too.
Then, as now, our entire economic system was in question. It was so serious that it put the West’s global predominance in question as well. The prize went to the candidate who raised the questions, and tried boldly to answer them, not to the one who tried to suppress them. I hope the same proves true in the United States next week.