Peggy Noonan: 'They Won't Care Till They're Affected'

October 7th, 2011

Wall Street Journal
By Peggy Noonan
Oct. 7, 2011

Look, we are in a remarkable moment and I’m not sure we’re noticing it in the day-to-day of politics and media. Last week I wrote of the new patriotism that I see taking hold of the American establishment, if that’s the right word—business leaders, doctors, scientists, entrepreneurs, journalists and lawyers who find themselves feeling a great, deep yearning to help save their country. That public-spiritedness is waiting to be harnessed and led by good men and women who, in words I’ll explain in a moment, have passion not for themselves but for America.

What’s behind it is fear. The economy is tanking and can take a whole world with it. But what’s interesting—and new—is that the fear is not finding its expression (again, among those loosely described as the establishment) in rage, or in deeper partisan antagonism. Democrats could be feeling bitter and snarky: President Obama didn’t work, and they’re not in love with him anyway, so why not bash Republicans just for fun? Republicans could be feeling mindlessly triumphant: We’re on the verge of a major victory, make way for your new rulers. But that’s not what I’m seeing. What I’m seeing is a new convergence of thought among Democrats and Republicans who are not in Washington and not part of the political matrix. They are in new agreement about our essential problems and priorities: that the economy comes first, all other crises (in foreign affairs, in our culture) come second, because they cannot be helped without an economy that is healthy and growing. They all agree—no one really argues about this anymore—the government is going bankrupt. They all agree the entitlement system has to be reformed. Heck, they all respect Paul Ryan, for his seriousness. They all want grown-ups to come forward with ideas that maybe each party wouldn’t love but that might do the country some good.

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