Bring back the Ohio presidents (Rob Portman '16)

Let's hear no more of "purple," the political word today desiring to turn "blue" to "red" and "red state" to "blue state." Or is it the other way around? It likewise turns Americans to mud. Picture Norman Ornstein and Howard Stern as one purple composite rake about town. Or former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Keith Richard. Let red be red, blue blue. And let the Scots be Scottish and the Swiss Swiss. Even retired Gen. David Petraeus is in the act today of visualizing composite peoples in defense of "the West"; for either a brand-new War of the Worlds, or the continuing Bush-Cheney catastrophic failure of imagination, Greater America against Everybody.

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The season has passed and even our closest allies today, including Canada, Israel, Britain and Australia, have begun to keep their distance from Washington. Likewise, America begins to keep its distance from Washington and looks instead to the middle, where creative governors like Mike Pence (R) in Indiana and Sam Brownback (R) in Kansas embrace the blissful, bucolic, agrarian solitude between L.A. and New York. But today they have in Washington only a howl to represent them as the rancor of the Tea Party brings only oppositional vibes.

But that is about to change. Next year this time, Dave Brat (R) will represent the Old Dominion in the House and U.S. Senate candidates Joni Ernst (R) of Iowa and Ben Sasse (R) of Nebraska will bring humor and creative original thinking from the rising prosperity of the heartland. The more interesting prospect is that these rurals could restore and advance the America which ran for a very long time after the Civil War, when eight presidents came from Ohio.

There was a definite sense and sensibility to the heartland governance of the Ohio presidents who rose with Ulysses Grant and began to yield in 1901 with William McKinley's untimely departure and the rise of capital in the East. But as Meredith Whitney writes in her important Fate of the States: The New Geography of American Prosperity, "The story of the next thirty years will not be a repeat of the last thirty." Or the last hundred. And note, the richest state in America today is not New York. It is North Dakota.

America today rises in the middle and yields on the edges and this could return America to an earlier, more moderate temperament; from the Colonial America which ended with President Thomas Jefferson's death in 1826 through the globalist period (Greater America) which ran from President Teddy Roosevelt's reign starting in 1901 to the "last Kennedy," Barack Obama.

The Tea Party was prelude to an awakening, and the fall of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) brings a sea change. He was the classic, iconic, dependable agent of New York/Washington interests. And Brat, like Sasse and Ernst, the practical, moderate conservative with traditional heartland values (states' rights, sound money, constitutional government) who will bring programs and new thinking to Washington.

The conservative movement, which began with a Tea Party howl, enters a new phase today of organization and sentiment which is not unlike that that which was institutionalized before the World Wars; the time of the Ohio presidents, but somehow got waylaid between 1901 and 2016 on the path to world conquest.

Possibly in the 2014, Congress America begins to find its long-lost true self again and a new, natural, indigenous vision of American conservatism.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R), take note.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.

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