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Stand for Freedom

Feb 14, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 21 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Let’s hope that as talk radio hosts find time for reflection, and commentators step back to take a deep breath, they will recall that one of the most hopeful aspects of the current conservative revival is its reclamation of the American constitutionalist tradition. That tradition is anchored even beyond the Constitution, of course, in the Declaration of Independence. And that document, let’s not forget, proclaims that, “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.”

An American conservatism that looks back to 1776 cannot turn its back on the Egyptian people. We should wish them well—and we should work to help them achieve as good an outcome as possible.

Conservatives are used to focusing on the downsides of situations. And there are potential downsides ahead, to be sure. But there is also a huge upside to a sound and admirable outcome in Egypt. American conservatives should remember our commitment, in the words of Federalist 39, to “that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.”

Egypt turns out to have its votaries of freedom. The Egyptian people want to exercise their capacity for self-government. American conservatives, heirs to our own bold and far-sighted revolutionaries, should help them.

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