It is painful to read and see how history repeats itself. Except in this particular circumstance, I’m not sure if history is repeating itself or if we’re simply further down the road that governments at all levels across the United States embarked upon many decades ago. The following excerpt is from the first-edition copy of William F. Buckley’s The Unmaking of a Mayor that I am currently reading - another treasure found in the Opitz Library at the Acton Institute. This is a portion of the remarks Buckley delivered at the press conference at which he announced his candidacy for Mayor of New York City in 1966. Prepare for facepalm:
I shall accept the designation if it is offered to me because I continue to respect the principles of the Republican Party as they are generally understood out over the country. But also because it has struck me as painfully clear, to judge from their public statements, that the major candidates, while agreeing that New York City is in crisis, are resolutely opposed to discussing the reasons why it is in crisis. Their failure to do so – I speak of Mr. Lindsay, and of Mr. Wagner, and of those who compete to succeed Mr. Wagner as the Democratic candidate – is symptomatic of a political disease that rages in New York, and threatens to contaminate democratic government everywhere in the United States. It consists in its most aggravated form, in an almost otherworldly detachment from the real situation in running for political office by concealing any significant mention of the significant public issues of the day. To run for office under such circumstances is merely a form of personal vanity. Yet the major candidates are correct in saying that New York is in crisis. New York cries for the kind of attention that is not being given to it by those who coolly contrive their campaigns so as to avoid offending major voting blocs. But to satisfy major voting blocs in their collective capacities is not necessarily to satisfy the individual members of those voting blocs in their separate capacities. [William F. Buckley, Jr., The Unmaking of a Mayor (New York: Viking Press, 1966), 105-106.]
Note again: this book was published in 1966. And yet, much of Buckley’s complaint and critique of politics is just as applicable today as it was when it was first proclaimed. It must be noted that, largely as a result of Buckley’s efforts prior and subsequent to his Quixotic 1966 campaign, there are currently some politicians who are willing to speak frankly about the dreadful fiscal and social problems that confront our society; unfortunately, finding politicians who are willing to not only speak the truth about our problems, but also willing to act in such a way as to actually address the problems is a difficult task indeed. Or at least it has been a problem; Obama and his willing accomplices in the Congress have pushed hard enough against common sense that the public has been roused and is demanding real action to address our debt crisis – witness the Tea Party and the upcoming mid-term elections that have all indications of being a massive wave for the Republicans. The true test of the Tea Party, however, will come in January of 2011 and beyond. Will the passion remain, or will the public end up being placated by half-measures from Washington that play at solving our debt crisis, but in reality do nothing substantial? We should all sincerely hope and pray for the former; I shudder to think about the consequences of the latter.