American, American Government, Bradley Symposium, Charles Krauthammer, Conservativism, FDR, founding fathers, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Freedom, Government, liberty, Otto von Bismarck, political philosophy, politics, Robert P. George, Ronald Reagan, The United States
“Looking down the road, to the future of the United States, I… I really am, despite the burden of our current problems, optimistic.
If you believe, as I do, in the political ideology of liberty; in the importance of an open civil society, and that the relationship between the citizen and the state should be a limited one, then I think you must believe that, if we can advocate those ideas clearly enough, we will win out in the end. And when you take away the other contaminants — the personalities, the contingencies, the financial crises, the Congressional gridlocks, the things that are confined to ‘the times’ — those ideals will survive for another generation. And that’s why I think, in the end, reality does win out. That’s why I’m confident.
Let me just end by saying that I’ve always had a sense that there is something providential about American history — and this is from somebody who isn’t strictly religious. But here is a nation founded on the edge of civilization by a tiny colony, living on the outskirts of the civilized world — one that, at a time when it needs it, miraculously finds within its borders the most brilliant generation of political thinkers in the history of the world. Then, a century later, when it needs a Lincoln, it finds a Lincoln. Then, in the 20th century, when it needed an FDR to fight and destroy fascism, it found it. When it needed Reagan to revive the country, it found one. And I don’t think there is a Reagan or an FDR on our horizon.
But there’s something about American history that redeems itself in a way that should inspire even the most pessimistic cynic. The way I would summarize the root of this feeling is by quoting my favorite pundit, Otto von Bismarck. He’s not known for his punditry, but he did famously say that, “God looks after four things: children, drunks, idiots… and the United States of America.”
I think he still does. I hope he still does. Thank you.”
Charles Krauthammer, speaking off-the-cuff at the closing of his address to last summer’s Bradley Symposium.
More from Bradley:
- Princeton professor and reader of this site Robert P. George debates C.K. on the essential question: What was the American Founders’ View of Human Nature?
- Krauthammer relates an anecdote about Winston Churchill in the restroom