We know how this happened, of course. George W. Bush broke the fiscal discipline of the Clinton years and launched a spending spree that Barack Obama and Donald Trump were only too happy to continue. For two decades past, the binge has been bipartisanship at its ugly worst. (The Tea Party, it must be said, was dead-right about this issue in 2010 and is owed an apology by the establishmentarians of all parties.) But what can we do about it now? To begin, we must confront and dismiss the rejoinder from the Left that the debt makes no real difference, that we can always borrow more funds or raise more taxes. The realist must respond: Really? Just who is it who will lend us money after it becomes clear that we can’t pay them back? And tax increases? Really? Now that more than half of the middle class pays no income taxes whatsoever, and now that we are sending virtually all of our public bills to the “rich,” who among those prosperous few will not defend themselves against what amounts to a bill of attainder? (I remind my political friends with annoying repetition that capital, unlike pigs, can fly.)

Let’s grow up, conservatives. Let’s set ourselves to the hard doctrinal work, as also to the recruitment of new adherents to a reinvigorated conservative philosophy. We have before us an opportunity given to few generations of Americans — the opportunity to build a new, dynamic, and broadly beneficent political era.