I want to be a conservative. I want to sign up, whatever it is you have to do to be part of the winning team.
Given that this is NUVO's annual Arts Guide, let me say that I'm as tired of university eggheads and angst-ridden artists as anyone in the room - especially if that room is the bar at the Columbia Club.
I mean, why shouldn't I be able to get with the program, particularly when the program is so, well, profitable? Just look at all the money conservatives give to one another. On the one hand, you have the Kochs and the Olins and the Bradleys, the Scaifes and the Coors - all of them with their own foundations (you can look them up on the Web) that do nothing but give millions to think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute and the Hoover Institution, to name just a few. These outfits pay people like me to publish books and magazine articles and give talks and go on the news to talk some more about the state of this great country of ours.
I can do that.
Really, the way I see it, I'm as conservative as any of the talking heads I see on television. Give me an issue, I'll show you what I mean.
Take big government ... please. It seems to me that in a republic like ours, where the rights of individual citizens are paramount, the importance of being able to deal directly with government representatives and other functionaries is a necessary part of the package. Not that this means I can always have my way - America is a society of laws, after all. Unless, of course, I have the wherewithal to bribe, I mean support, the official I'm dealing with by making a cash contribution to his or her favorite charity. My ability to make that payment is called meritocracy - I'm for that, too.
Given that this is NUVO's annual Arts Guide, let me say that I'm as tired of university eggheads and angst-ridden artists as anyone in the room - especially if that room is the bar at the Columbia Club. The easiest way to tell that our college campuses have become hotbeds of Marxist twaddle is to look at what's happened to the cost of tuition. It's gone through the roof. Why? So that all those professors and administrators who are still crying in their imported Belgian ale over what happened to the '60s can continue buying imported Belgian ale, and Volvos and vacations in Provence.
As for artists: What's so bad about art for the audience's sake?
If you're an artist, could anything possibly be sweeter than the sight of a long line of people wanting to get into your show? Now, I'll admit that if what they're waiting to see is your latest soft-core heavy metal ultra-violent misogynist amorality play, we could be on somewhat dicey ground. But isn't freedom to make a buck - that is, express yourself - what makes this country such a great marketplace of ideas?
If people buy it, it must be good. How else can you explain Wal-Mart?
But listen: I also believe in standards. You have to have them. Look at what happened during the 1960s. We let more people into our colleges and universities than ever before. This seemed like a good idea at the time. You see what we got ... a generation of guilt-ridden malcontents who grew up and had to deal with the shame and embarrassment of having smoked pot, protested war, sought spiritual fulfillment, thought art and music could change things and imagined a world that might be different than the one their parents left them. At least they voted for Reagan when they finally had the chance!
Things would have been so much better if, instead of sending all these mushy minds to college, we would have shooed them off to good trade schools. Sure, that might have prolonged the life of unions for another heartbeat or two, but as any casino operator will tell you: Good help is hard to find.
Come to think of it, the way the cost of college is rising, we might get to this outcome yet. I guess some things just take time - how conservative an attitude is that?
At the end of the day and going forward, I believe I am full to bursting with conservative bona fides. I'm crazy about people with good manners, always say please and thank you (even when dealt with rudely by some service worker) and am glad to suffer pedestrians in the crosswalk when trying to turn right. I sigh at the thought of families sharing dinner together, but am pragmatic enough to realize that, in today's free-agent economy, where we have the opportunity to spend all of our adult years without the burden of job security, such scenes of domestic bliss are an ideal - rather like the neutron bomb, which promised to kill populations but leave buildings intact.
Liberalism has gone the way of the Dodo bird. George Soros, for all his millions, is lonely as the Maytag washing machine repairman. Like all ambitious Americans, I want to be a conservative. If I can bring myself to love this country a little less, I might just make it.