A Conservative Voice … With Reason!

It is rare that I will post the words of a conservative commentator these days, but there are a few exceptions.  Bill Kristol is a conservative, but an intelligent man with a conscience, one who is not your typical “maga” sort of Republican we see so much of today.  His post for the New Year crossed my radar and I want to share it with you, for while he is fully cognizant of the problems facing the world today, he also sees hope arising from the past 12 months.  Take a look …

A (Surprisingly) Happy New Year

2022 was better than expected; 2023 is key.

William Kristol

30 December 2022

A year ago, as we approached New Year’s Day 2022, things seemed grim.

Things were grim.

At home, Donald Trump was ascendant in the Republican party. Elise Stefanik’s Dear Leader sycophancy and Big Lie enthusiasm seemed to be the future. Liz Cheney’s truth-telling seemed to be the past. And it seemed that no one of any prominence would pay a price for January 6th. President Biden’s approval ratings were plummeting and a Democratic Congress was not producing legislation. A red wave for an unredeemed Republican party looked likely.

Confidence in the U.S. abroad had been damaged by the Afghanistan withdrawal. Vladimir Putin was threatening Ukraine and looked like a good bet to topple the Ukrainian government and partition the country. The mullahs’ grip in Iran appeared unchallenged as they continued to progress toward nuclear weapons. America was divided at both the elite and popular levels, the country uncertain of its global role—still apparently reeling from Trump’s presidency, but not yet strengthened by Biden’s.

The new year in 2022 was not a particularly happy one.

But politics, like life, does not proceed in a straight line.

Things turned around.

Actually, let me retract that last sentence—because it suggests fatalism and a lack of human agency concerning important events, which is both untrue and demoralizing.

It was people—both extraordinary leaders and ordinary folk—who turned things around in 2022.

At the end of 2022, Putin is still Putin. The mullahs are still the mullahs. Trump is still Trump. Those actors have not changed.

But the world around them changed because of the struggles and successes of those who fought for democracy and for freedom.

Volodomyr Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine stood heroically firm. The Iranian people bravely rose up. At home, the American electorate rejected the worst of the election deniers and continued its rebuke of Trumpism for the third straight election. Congress passed a fair amount of reasonable legislation, including the Electoral Count Act. The January 6th Committee conducted itself seriously and honorably and in the course of its work documented a great deal of important evidence which was not previously known. Partly as a consequence of their labors—which were dismissed both early and late as being obscure and inconsequential—the Department of Justice now seems likely to try to enforce some accountability not just for the foot soldiers, but for the leaders of the insurrection. And for Donald Trump.

What happened in 2022 was as remarkable as it was unexpected. And as a result, we enter 2023 in better shape than we could have reasonably hoped a year ago.

Because—and this is the key part—people did not accept the reasonable expectations. They fought and organized and worked. They bent the curve of the future.

Perhaps we will one day look back at 2022 not just as a lucky bending of the curve, but as an inflection point—as a true Zeitenwende, to use the term invoked by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

But we don’t know. More to the point, we can’t know. Nothing about the future—nothing about 2023—is inevitable.

It’s equally possible that we could look back on 2022 as a bear market rally for democracy. That we will one day judge it to have been a false dawn, a brief surge of democratic willpower and energy on behalf of freedom that peters out in the face of the illiberal forces arrayed against it.

But the successes of 2022 have given those who care about liberty and democracy, about human decency and human dignity, a fighting chance in 2023.

In 2022 democracy and liberty didn’t just hold the line—they gained some ground. The defenders of liberalism fought back more effectively than the last decade suggested they were capable of doing.

What comes next will be the product not just of implacable forces, but the choices and actions of real people. Some of those people will be consequential and their choices will be seen by the world. You will know—or learn—their names. The vast majority will not be. Many of the choices will be made by ordinary people, acting individually or collectively, often in quiet—but important—ways.

Will Trump be further weakened by the end of 2023? Will demagoguery and authoritarianism be pushed back both in America and across the globe? Will Ukraine win? Will Putin remain in power? Will the Iranian people topple the mullahs?

There are unexpected opportunities for 2023. But they need to be followed through on, not frittered away.

So now is no time for celebration. To use a World War II analogy, we’ve survived Dunkirk, the Blitz and Pearl Harbor—but much damage has been done, the enemies of liberalism remain formidable, and we’ve only just begun the effort to regain ground. Even if victory is possible, there is a long and difficult road ahead.

Perhaps Churchill’s 1941 Christmas Eve address from the White House, where he was visiting Roosevelt, is apt.

“Let the children have their night of fun and laughter,” he remarked. And “Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasure.”

But Churchill added that, after sharing that moment of pleasure, we will have to “turn again to the stern task and the formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world.”

This isn’t World War II, of course. But it is the challenge of our time. And history will judge us on whether we meet it.

23 thoughts on “A Conservative Voice … With Reason!

  1. Pingback: A Conservative Voice … With Reason! | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

  2. A voice of reason in an otherwise world! Finally! It gives hope where hopelessness reigned and respect for the ones who don’t do the screaming and shouting. And yes, there are the loud ones on both sides, just as each side has their quiet voices of reason. May reason win the battle, and this is my wish for the New Year!
    Happy New Year to you, my friend. And Happy New Year to every one the world around. Let’s all try for reason in 2023. Reason, not complacency!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well spoken, my friend! Although I am not terribly optimistic about the coming year, I remain hopeful, knowing there are voices of reason out there.

      A very Happy New Year to you also, Angie! I hope the coming year will be much less stressful for you than this one has been! Love ‘n hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Not very optimistic about my future here, Jill. I’m doing some research into the rules and regulations on Assisted Living facilities in Kentucky and it’s not a pretty picture, They are basically unregulated in this state, although other states have better rules. Probably be meeting with administration next week to discuss some of the more blatant problems here, but not at all optimistic about the outcome.. Damn! I wanted to hang the investigator phase up for good and relax during the next 20 years!

        Liked by 1 person

        • On reading this comment, I remembered I had seen that you posted a day or two ago, but I hadn’t yet read the post, so I went back and read it just now. Needless to say, I am heartbroken for you. I hope you’re still looking at other options … an apartment, or maybe even buying a small condo? Are your children helping at all? Let us hope you can make a move in the coming year, preferably by spring! Hugs

          Liked by 1 person

          • My children have let me know they are out of it completely. On my own now and hope they never have to find out what that is like. They really are their father’s kids, and hopefully will never find out about his attitude before they were born. Or maybe I should let them know. That wouldn’t serve any purpose except getting it off my chest. I’ll never tell.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Seriously??? After all you’ve done for them for all these years? Incredible. I’m speechless. You should write them all a letter and vent your feelings about their abominable treatment of you. And I would let them know about their father … yes, it would get it off your chest, but they ought to know. Sigh. I’m so sorry you’re going through all this, my dear friend.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Sigh! They just remember he told them they didn’t have to do anything I told them but forget how he would rant and rave if they missed doing something he said to do. I always picked up after them and kept their secrets when they didn’t do something and I did it for them while he was at work. I’ve written it all out and saved it on my laptop. I guess it’s in all of my devices because I put it in my Word file. They won’t read it though. They just don’t want to know. Or they do know but can’t accept it yet.

                Liked by 1 person

                • This is so heartbreaking, Angie. It makes me realize how very lucky I am to have a daughter and granddaughter who would do anything on earth for me, but also it breaks my heart that your kids are being so awful. I wish I had magical words to put a smile on your face, my friend, but just know that I’m thinking of you and you’re in my heart.

                  Liked by 1 person

  3. Jill, thanks for sharing this. Conservative voices of reason need to be broadcast to all, especially elected Republicans in Congress who have said they will focus on the less important matters to try to gain advantage. It is funny the thought of doing a good job of governance somehow is not an option. We Americans will be harmed by these failures. Let’s hope the more sensible leadership will be able to rein in the more strident members of the majority party in the House.

    Yet huge steps were made in 2022 to combat autocratic thinking. Names like Zelenskyy, Cheney, Kinzinger, Biden, Pelosi should be thanked for their service to the country and democracy. And, all those Republicans who testified under oath that the former president aided and facilitated sedition against the United States of America should be commended. It should be noted their critics have not said boo under oath. That matters. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve long found Bill Kristol to be the voice of reason since I first noticed him on George Stephanopoulos’ Sunday morning talk show some 20 years back. I share your hope that the voices of reason in the GOP can reign in those who are out for revenge, who would turn the next two years into an even bigger circus than it was during the Trump era. But, while I’m hopeful, I’m not optimistic. It seems that the further to the right they go, the more popular they are with the Republican base. Good governance has not even crossed their minds nor entered their conversation. It’s all about impeaching Biden and investigating everyone else. I am not looking forward to the next two years. Like you, I applaud the ones you mention, and those who risked their careers to be the truth-tellers. Let’s hope their efforts were not for naught.


  4. I think many of us tend to view ALL Republicans” by the loud-mouths of the party. In “real life,” there actually are some good points in the Republican platform, but they have been totally mangled by the so-called spokespeople who claim to represent (?) the Red side of the aisle.

    Of course, members of either party will always reject certain viewpoints of the “other” party, but IMO, neither party is all good or all bad. I think most of us tend to lean towards the side that favors our personal perspectives of government.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I would agree that there are some (too few, in my book) good Republicans out there. However, the Republicans do not have a platform at this time, as they declined to make one at their last convention, so there are no points on their platform whatsoever. I would agree that neither party has all the good ideas nor all the bad ones, but today’s GOP is all about revenge, about authoritarianism, about destroying the very foundation of this nation. Those ‘cooler heads’ need to lead the party, not the likes of McCarthy and Greene.


  5. No, we are not in World War II , but we are in the World War for Human Life. Demagoguery and Authoritarianism are not a visible army that can be fought face-to-face like the Nazis were. This is more a patchwork and cellular (as in working as separate cells) army hidden in Russia, North Korea, Hungary, China, and the United States and Canada, amongest others. The enemy is not centralized, so cannot be faced head on. Rather we must fight on the beaches, on the shores, in the mountains, and in the air. There are so many areas of enemy participation we cannot used combined and Allied Forces. We must meet them in the breeches., between the lines sotospeak. And still, we must win!

    Liked by 5 people

    • You are right in your assessment that this is a war of sorts. But, I think the fight can only be won … and I know you won’t agree with me … with humanitarianism. Fighting anger and hatred with more anger and hatred is getting us nowhere. Trading insults gets us nowhere. Perhaps we try putting our better foot forward, show compassion and empathy, be the person we hope to convince ‘them’ to be. Just a thought.


      • I hope I have never asked anyone to fight with anger or hatred. But there are times when I cannot turn the other cheek. Compassion and empathy are useful and necessary, but it helps no one to let angry people scream you into silence.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, I never let anyone scream me into silence, but rarely do I scream back … I usually just smirk at them, then say, “Okey dokie … I don’t waste my breathe on ignorant people.” And then I walk away whistling or humming, keeping the smirk on my face.


    • I do hope he’s right … I guess time will tell. Being somewhat of a pessimist these days, I anticipate two years of maximum chaos in our government, but perhaps cooler heads will prevail. Happy New Year, my friend! xx


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