By any standard, 2011 was a monumental year. We got a little closer to winning the war on terror, an entire region that seemed doomed to eternal tyranny started fighting back, and 99% of the world's citizens finally acted out against the degradation they’ve suffered for the last 30 years.
I usually leave it to the historians to find the take-aways for the year, but this year I thought I’d give some props to a group I generally disagree with – the modern conservatives.
I say “modern” because I always thought that conservatism was about smaller government and lower taxes. But the modern Republican Party has shown that the conservative movement is about so much more. And boy is it worth it to see the kind of future they envision for this country.
Here’s a short list of what today’s right wing taught me in 2011.
1. Everything Barack Obama does is wrong.
He didn't kill Osama bin Laden right. He didn't manage the Arab Spring right. He didn't leave Iraq right. He didn't cut taxes right. And what’s with his dog, Bo, not wishing us a merry Christmas? Unemployment could go down to 8.6% and we could have a great holiday shopping season, and I’d still rather have anyone else as president – well, except for Mitt Romney.
2. The only sane protester is a gun-toting coot.
Remember when protests were led by Dick Armey and the Koch brothers? When real Americans portrayed the president as a witch doctor and shouted down disabled people and other socialists? I miss those days. What’s with these people of all ages, races, and religions going to Zuccotti Park and asking the rich to pay their fair share? Don’t they know that low taxes help create jobs in China and India?
3. Compromise is for pussies.
The tea party didn’t go to Washington to govern; they went there to get everything they want. As any red-blooded American knows, compromise is just another word for surrender. No one who ever had to compromise looked at it as a good thing. That’s why sometimes you have to stand your ground and refuse to give even an inch. And hey, if someone gets hurt or an economy collapses, that’s the price of liberty.
4. To fix the economy, you need a cool catchphrase.
Congress is wasting their time trying to write legislation to revive the economy. Don’t they know that a pithy catchphrase is the answer? Burger King didn’t become awesome with a business model and focus groups – they came up with “Have it your way” and started rocking the Whopper. It worked for a burger joint, so it’s bound to work for the economy. So come on, wordsmiths, get your phrase on and get us out of this recession!
5. Real patriots don’t need to know history.
If you’re a red-blooded American, you know that Clinton caused 9/11,killed Osama bin Laden with his bare hands, the Revolutionary War started in New Hampshire, and Reagan never raised a tax in his life. And that’s good enough for me! If you were one of those people sticking their nose in a book, you weren’t out there creating jobs and keeping America safe, so what good are you?
6. We’ve got to put kids to work.
We all know that most poor kids grow up to be drug dealers, so it’s time we give them another career choice. How about cleaning the toilets in their schools? It’s not like they’ve ever seen anyone really working – certainly not their teachers, or neighborhood store owners, or police offers, or pastors, or janitors. What better way to help poor kids achieve the American Dream than by making them clean up the mess the rest of us leave behind?
7. If something has your name on it, someone else obviously wrote it.
If a newsletter from one of your heroes has a lot of angry, hateful language, don’t worry, chances are your hero didn’t write it. In fact, he probably didn’t even know about it. This is a good thing. If someone has enough free time to read the things that other people are ghostwriting in their name, then they’re obviously not working hard enough. In other words, don’t make a big deal about what someone has “written.” I mean, what do you want, accountability?
Of course, despite all these valuable life lessons, I have much more to learn, so let's hope all the people who educated me in 2011 stick around in 2012. And if they don't? Well, it's only one more year before we all die. I can live with that.