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April 14, 2013

Column: Time is ripe for rise of one in Thatcher’s mold

Margaret Thatcher is dead, the great Margaret Thatcher, the woman who saved Great Britain not the way Winston Churchill did it earlier, through wartime leadership, but domestically, through reform.

To be sure, she did help end the Cold War and played it tough in the Falklands, but what this longest serving of all of Britain’s prime ministers chiefly did was fight back against a socialist reign of ruin, ultimately helping change an economy in tatters to one thumping its chest among international competitors. We need comparable guidance in America right now.

It’s fascinating how it sometimes happens that, at some particularly perilous moment in a nation’s history, a giant will arise and do what has to be done. We’ve had them in this country, and we need one again in the next presidential election. In sifting out what to look for, look at how Thatcher stood up against mighty social and political forces that emerged with special vigor at the end of World War II.

History, some might say, was not on her side, and yet, in the 1980s, she successfully took on the nationalization of vast swaths of industry, stultifying, stubborn, strike-zany trade union power, the freebie state and all the cheerleaders for these nostrums that seem to some such a sure and noble way out of difficulty.

Freedom was the answer, and the Iron Lady knew it. While few political victories are final — and some of her achievements have suffered setbacks — this grocer’s daughter gave incredibly shrinking Britain a chance to recover through her fortitude, articulately voiced, consistent, conservative philosophy, political savvy and unceasing determination.

There are big differences and yet also striking similarities between England in the years Thatcher was prime minister and the collectivist-minded, big-government, Washington-knows-best nation in which we live today.

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