One day last summer, I was having dinner with a good friend. I told her that I wanted to write another book but wasn't quite sure as to what its focus should be. We then started talking about how epically weird the last few years under President Obama have been. Every day, we were getting hit with a new piece of insane leftist social engineering or some new policy to take down American power or prestige abroad---a rapid-fire assault I call "Barack-a-mole." Our enemies were getting olive branches, our allies were getting dissed, and millions of Americans were being moved into government dependency at home. "What the (bleep) just happened?" I sighed. She looked at me and said, "That's your title.”
I wrote “What the (Bleep) Just Happened?” for several reasons. First, I surveyed all of the destruction and despair wrought by Team Obama and their fellow leftists and thought, "Are we supposed to just to accept this? Just accept radically redistributionist economic policies, unprecedented spending, record-breaking deficits and debt, non-existent economic growth, socialized medicine, and American decline abroad? Oh hell, no!" Obama may be doing his best to turn America the Exceptional into America the Also-Ran, but he didn't count on us running a great defense.
And most importantly, I wanted to create a new template for America in the 21st century. Obama did it from the left in 2008, and now it's our turn. I developed the concept of the Happy Warrior as a rallying cry for those of us who want to restore America to its great foundational principles: individual freedom, personal responsibility, fiscal restraint, and economic liberty.
The allure of leftist kookdom is its false promise of an easier life. At its core, it’s about the state forcing you to transfer responsibility to it. This is part of what made communism and socialism so appealing in theory: the nanny state would care for all of your cradle to grave needs. As the kooks assumed more and more responsibilities for you, they told you that they were clearing a path for a less burdensome life. It was a seduction to which many Americans succumbed---and continue to succumb to.
In fact, the opposite is true: when the state seizes more power and responsibility, your independence and freedom are degraded. And rather than liberation from responsibility, you face a burden of dependence---yours and everyone else’s---that grows heavier by the day.
The Founders saw things differently. They rejected the idea of an omnipotent state taking on an endless buffet of responsibilities. Instead, they saw the inseparability of freedom and responsibility. They made clear that if you want the unprecedented freedoms of America, you must accept the outcomes of your own decisions. That’s why they built America upon the simple and profound premise that freedom and responsibility rest not with the state but with the individual. And they expected us to fight for what they had created: a unique system of self-governance based on individuals responsible enough to manage their own—and the nation’s---liberty, power and affairs. Are we still up to that challenge?
Enter the Happy Warrior.
The Happy Warrior believes in two essential truths: First, that America can be saved. And second, that it is worth saving. We need a nation of Happy Warriors---focused on those two truths and the tough reality that the threats to our survival are all around us---to perform the rescue operation.
What is a Happy Warrior and how do we become a nation of them? There are 10 essential keys to the Happy Warrior, all of which require hard work, dedication and attitudinal changes. But if we understand and undertake them, the journey to renew America will be spectacularly rewarding.
First, we must recognize that the Happy Warrior is above all a warrior. We must realize that we are in a war. We’re in an ideological war, an economic war, a political war, a cultural war and a war abroad for our superpower primacy. When Reagan became president, he knew we were in brutal economic and international wars for America. When Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister, she knew Great Britain was deep in those wars as well. Once we recognize that we’re in the war, then we must be prepared to fight it. That means understanding that the other side is going to hit back ruthlessly and relentlessly, and that we’ve got to persevere despite the attacks and hit back too, as difficult as that may be. So the first step for the Happy Warrior is to realize that we face a very real danger and that there’s no getting out of the war without fighting it.
Second, we must win these wars before they escalate into bigger cataclysms. We’ve got to be smart and self-aware enough to learn from our history, avoid repeating it, and letting things deteriorate until a devastating war is upon us, as with the Civil War, World War II and September 11, 2001. We must adopt a warrior attitude now, before it’s truly too late, and be prepared to be strong, confident and unwavering as we fight it.
Third, we must recognize that any war requires pain and sacrifice. The Happy Warrior’s choice---and only choice---is to face those uncomfortable things now or face much greater pain later.
Fourth, in most cases, we are at war with ourselves---the tendency to go wobbly, seek the easy way out, relinquish responsibility to the nanny state, fall into the waiting arms of the kooks promising the path of least resistance. We must fight these impulses in ourselves in order to form the national strength to fight these wars.
Fifth, the Happy Warrior fights to hold the other side responsible for its actions. The kooks fight to transfer responsibility and power away from the individual to the state. They argue that we are the ones who have to change and adapt to their freedom-crushing template. We reject that perversion of the American ideal.
Sixth, the Happy Warrior is fully comfortable that the underpinning of freedom is, in fact, individual responsibility. If we all fought determinedly for that belief, the state would naturally shrink as we the people won more of our own power back.
Seventh, the Happy Warrior believes in the inherent goodness of man. We believe that the state should get out of the way not just so we can prosper, but so we can share that prosperity unencumbered by the state. The Left’s philosophy of “social justice” requires the state to compel “charity” in order to “spread the wealth around.” And yet, without government compulsion, the American people are the most charitable on earth. Most other countries give about 1 percent or less of their national wealth to charity. The United States doubles that. While we recognize that there is a proper role for government to discharge its Constitutional duties and provide a reasonable social safety net, we also recognize that the kooks have so expanded government in the false name of “compassion” that we now have a nearly unrecognizable America.
Eighth, the Happy Warrior doesn’t believe that America is zero-sum, that success in one place must be punished to elevate the less successful somewhere else. The depraved premise of the kooks is that the rich got their wealth by “taking” it from the poor. In fact, approximately 80 percent of all millionaires are the first generation in their family to be rich. They didn’t inherit their wealth, a la Paris Hilton. They earned it through hard work and sacrifice. Unlike the professional victimhood hustlers of the Left, the Happy Warrior believes that economic expansion creates real growth.
Ninth, an effective happy warrior is a disciplined one. As long as our directives are consistent with our founding principles, we must focus on the fight for them until America has been restored.
And finally, the Happy Warrior is, in fact, happy. We take on our mission joyfully, certain that traditional American values are worthy of a passionate defense and that American power is not something to be ashamed of but celebrated. The best way to temper the inevitable pain of the battle is to carry it out with good cheer, confident in our mission, its integrity and success.
Today we need people who are willing to make the moral case for the free market and American superpower. We need people willing to reject outright the kooks’ contention that redistributionism is a moral system of “economic justice” and argue for how and why capitalism empowers the individual and creates a steady expansion of prosperity and opportunity. We need people willing to make the moral case for a strong U.S. presence in the world, keeping the bad guys at bay and advancing the causes of freedom and peace. We need people willing to tell the truth about the kooks’ lies that redistributionism at home and wobbliness abroad ensure greater global “justice” and “equality.” And absent leaders who will make these arguments, we must take it upon ourselves to make the moral case for America. We have our work cut out for us, because the class warrior and defeatist punks aren’t just going to step aside.
The great American comeback begins with each of us. It’s up to us to make the “what the @#$&! just happened?” moment an anomaly in American history, a brief aberration that did a lot of damage but is fixable with the right leadership and policies. The circumstances of today’s American crisis are different than those faced by Reagan and Thatcher, but the basic challenge is largely the same: to reverse corrosive leftism and its attendant decline.
But we’ve got to move fast. Time is not on our side as the tentacles of kookdom wrap themselves around our governing institutions, private sector and every other aspect of our lives. After an unmistakable electoral repudiation of Obama, his leftist agenda and those who pushed it, the next key to unleashing America is to get the rest of us to uproot the toxic and ravenous nanny state, replace it with the limited government, free market model and do the hard work of rallying the public to the comeback. None of this will be easy, and success is not guaranteed. But America still possesses huge strengths economically, politically, militarily, culturally and Constitutionally.
Most significantly, it has us. At every major turning point---the founding, the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War II, the civil rights struggle, the malaise of the late 1970s---we have produced leaders who were prepared for the fight to restore the nation. But it was the American people who led the charge. We have always known that we don’t have to settle for anything less than the Founders’ ideal and that we don’t have to put up with sundry kooks as they butcher the Constitution. This time is no different. Team Obama and his wingmen moved with all deliberate speed, and now so must we.
Monica Crowley, Ph.D., is a Fox News Contributor, host of the nationally syndicated “Monica Crowley Show,” and the author of What the (Bleep) Just Happened? The Happy Warrior’s Guide to the Great American Comeback.