The Mark Helprin piece posted below reflects the pessimism of its author (which is not to say that its conclusions are therefore incorrect). If I am not mistaken, Helprin was the main author of Bob Dole’s acceptance speech at the 1996 Republican convention, in which Dole presented himself as a “bridge to the past.” It made sense to me (I’m that kind of conservative, to some extent), but it may have been the kiss of death for Dole’s presidential prospects.
I say all of this as an introduction to a fine piece by Paul Cella, which asks, “can conservatives be optimists?” Traditionally, of course, they aren’t. Starting with Reagan, though, this seems to have changed. The short answer, I think, is, yes, conservatives can be optimists in some senses. But Cella’s piece provides room for doubt as to whether we should be.
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