"History is made by intense, compact minorities," says Washington Post columnist George Will, who believes that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) "and her squad or cohort have the energy in the Democratic Party. A lot of people say, 'Gee whiz, I did not know Joe Biden was this far left. He's not left, not a progressive—he's a Democrat. And he goes where his party is being pulled." Will says that starting in the mid-1960s, followers of Sen. Barry Goldwater (R–Ariz.) had the same effect on the Republican Party, eventually leading the recasting of the GOP as the party of small government and the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980.
In 1973, Will was a young academic coming off a stint as a Senate staffer when he began writing columns for National Review and The Washington Post. Since then he has churned out "6,000 or so" pieces (his count) on a weekly schedule, calling to mind the longevity and endurance of Cal Ripken Jr., who played more consecutive baseball games than anyone in history and whose work ethic was lionized by Will in his 1990 bestseller, Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball.
Will's newest book is American Happiness and Discontents, a collection of columns from 2008 to 2020 that covers the Great Recession, the Obama years, what he calls the crybaby presidency of Donald Trump, and the rise of identity politics as a major force in contemporary America. Of special interest are his columns drawing complicated lessons from the World War II era, when the country triumphed over authoritarianism and genocide abroad even as it practiced racial apartheid at home. Will's analysis of and love for America is unabashedly patriotic but it is never jingoistic or untroubled by tough historical truths.
Though he started out firmly on the conservative right, Will has become more and more libertarian, especially in his insistence that mere politics should never be the all-consuming passion of human endeavor and that America remains a place dedicated to a future that is better than the present. "If we can rein in our appetite for government to dispense benefits," he says, and replace it with a government "that defends the shores, fills the potholes, and otherwise gets out of the way, we're going to see again, the creativity of the American people."
Photo Credits: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash; Reason, 1978; Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash; Albin Lohr-Jones/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Albin Lohr-Jones/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Jeff Malet Photography/Newscom; Steve Sanchez/Pacific Press/Newscom; George Bridges/KRT/Newscom; Jeff Malet Photography/Newscom; William Reagan/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Everett Collection/Newscom; Tom Williams/Roll Call/Newscom; Roger L. Wollenberg UPI Photo Service/Newscom; 1987 Commercial—Mrs. Smith's "Pie in Minutes"; Photo by Nelson Ndongala on Unsplash
Music Credit: "December," by Still Life