In Haste on a Snowy Night in New Hampshire, Or, Duty

I’ve been on the road the last few days–the day after the election was the first time in my life I was happy to spend ten hours in cars and on airplanes, because I could, more or less, pretend for one more day that, when the votes were finally counted, Romney might still carry Virginia, Florida and Ohio–and even now, in my New Hampshire hotel room, I have only a moment. So here, briefly, is what I’d like to say:

1) I love you guys on Ricochet–just love you. Of all the places I’ve spent catching up on the web, Ricochet proved by far the most gratifying and informative. By following links posted here, I could read what really mattered. And even when I had only a few moments to skim posts and comments, I could see what my friends–and after this past campaign, we really are friends–were thinking and feeling. Put it this way. After a catastrophe like this, I wouldn’t want to be stuck in this hotel room all alone.

2) I’ve gone back and forth on the central question, which is–let’s face it–whether the country is doomed. 

When I was at Dartmouth as an undergrad, I interviewed the great British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge. Americans and Englishmen, he suggested, found themselves in the position of Romans in the fifth century, living as the world they cherished slowly crumbled. “Aside from Alaric’s sack,” Muggeridge said, “all the events would have been slow, nearly imperceptible. You can imagine two pink senators being toweled down in the baths, one saying to the other, ‘Things aren’t what they used to be, are they?'”

Muggeridge was mistaken. Things weren’t about to get even worse; they were about to get better. Later that very year, John Paul II would visit Poland, Margaret Thatcher would move into Number Ten Downing Street, and Ronald Reagan would announce his candidacy.

After this week’s election, though, I’ve begun to suspect that maybe Maybe Muggeridge was only off by few decades.

You know what, though? It doesn’t damn well matter–it’s taken me 48 hours to realize that, but now I see it. I have children–one will graduate from Dartmouth this coming June full of hope and expectancy, eager to enter American life with the same eagerness I myself felt thirty-some years ago. Even if the country is slowly descending–maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t– I intend to join millions of my countrymen, and all my friends right here at Ricochet, in doing my best to do my simple duty.

I intend to fight.