In 1975, when asked to explain why
That was one of the nicer things said about an "imbecile" who earned a degree in chemistry from Oxford and became a lawyer while studying at home. (She sent her bar application to the maternity ward while recovering from delivering twins.)
One lesson here is that being underestimated is a great gift in politics.
When the news of Thatcher's death broke Monday, I went back to the archives of
Just over four years later, Buckley penned a column with the headline: "Margaret is
Buckley rightly identified the importance of Thatcher's victory. "For over a generation we have been assaulted -- castrated is probably closer to the right word -- by the notion that socialism is the wave of the future." The arguments between the major parties in the West had almost invariably been disagreements over the pace of descent into one or another flavor of statism. It "has always been possible for the leftward party to say about the rightward party that its platform is roughly identical to the platform of the leftward party one or two elections back."
This was certainly true in the U.S., though Buckley may have overstated things when he wrote that, "Roosevelt would have considered the
What's indisputable, however, is that the Tories and the Republicans alike suffered from an excess of "me-tooism." From
For decades, conservatism failed to offer an alternative. This was why economist
One reason for this tendency is that in democracies, politicians usually can't withstand the short-term backlash that comes with meaningful long-term free-market reforms. Thatcher was expected to follow the pattern. When it became clear that Thatcher intended to actually practice what she'd been preaching, the press demanded she make a "U-turn." She didn't. She explained in a defining speech in 1980, "The lady's not for turning." She had promised voters, to borrow a phrase from
It's worth remembering that Thatcher did not destroy the British equivalent of what Americans call liberalism. She destroyed socialism, which was a thriving concern -- at least intellectually -- in
That's one reason the left still hates her and Reagan so much. Thatcher and Reagan didn't just force change on their societies, they forced change on their enemies, proving that the wave of the future is not so inevitable after all.
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