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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Monday, April 08, 2013

The Last of the Titans - goodbye to Margaret Thatcher

When I was a university student in the late 1970s (I graduated in 1981) I was a political naif. I vaguely believed in individual liberty and the free market, but I really couldn't articulate a personal political philosophy. Save for the brief interregnum of the hapless Joe Clark, Canada was led by Pierre Trudeau - the man who gave us wage and price controls and multiculturalism while partying with John and Yoko, sucking up to Fidel Castro and doing pirouettes behind the Queen's back. The US had Jimmy Carter - enough said. It was hard to get fired up about politics in those days.

Then in 1979, like a blazing comet in the political firmament, appeared Margaret Thatcher. She was mesmerizing to watch. Here, for the first time I could remember, was a politician who actually believed in something bigger than politics, and who could forcefully and emotionally articulate the true core values of conservative ideology. Here was a leader who sent the British Navy to take back the Falkland Islands from the Argentine military junta just to keep the islanders free and British. I date the beginning of my true political awareness to the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979.

When Ronald Reagan was elected in 1981, it was like all the planets had aligned, and the ensuing years which brought the end of the Cold War and the fall of Communism were an amazing time to live through. I remember watching on TV as the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, thinking that I was privileged to be able to witness it, and being grateful for the circumstances that brought us leaders like Thatcher and Reagan. The following year I traveled to Berlin to see the collapse of the Evil Empire in person - I'll never forget it.

We conservatives owe Baroness Thatcher a huge debt of gratitude for the legacy she left us. What conservative politicians can walk in her footsteps? Tim Hudak? Mitt Romney? David Cameron? What female politician can hold a candle to her? Angela Merkel? Hillary Clinton? Sarah Palin?

Margaret Thatcher was a giant among pygmies. We need politicians like her desperately right now, but I fear we won't see the likes of her again for a long, long time.

Rest in peace, Lady Thatcher.

Here's one of my favourite clips of Mrs. Thatcher - one of her last speeches in the House of Commons. It's the way I like to remember her.

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