But the world changes, and we are supposed to learn lessons from those changes. Conservatives, and even a few young liberals, accept that life isn’t fair, but that winners tend to be people who shake things up and pivot, even while never forgetting sound fundamental principles. This a good definition not only of Bryce Harper, who electrifies even while never botching the basics, but Mitt Romney, who understands the creative destruction of modern capitalism even as he has mastered the fundamentals of economics. Liberals will falsely claim that Romney wants to return to the 1950s, while never admitting that they are stuck in the much more dysfunctional 1960s.
If America is to be solvent and healthy, we cannot keep doing what we have been doing since the Miracle Mets won the World Series in 1969. We have to do things differently, just as Bryce Harper is not playing baseball the old way. Harper is not going to sit back and accept what the status quo tells him to accept (where does he get off stealing home?). And conservatives are not going to expect to retire at age 65 or to send their kids to the college of their choice if it costs $50,000 a year. We are going to adapt. (In a strange way, conservatives are not only like Bryce Harper, but have become like the do-it-yourself punk rockers of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Don’t have a record label? Start your own. Are the old rock groups bloated and sloppy? Boot them off the stage.) Meanwhile, liberals occupy everything so that they can demand — what was it again? Oh yeah, peace. And taxes.
Harper reminds me of my own grandfather, Joe Judge, who played first base for the Senators from 1915 to 1932. Like Harper, Judge was left-handed and was a scrappy and aggressive player. His career spanned two eras, the dead ball era (1900 to 1919) and the live ball era, from 1920 on, when home runs became much more prevalent. When Babe Ruth arrived in New York in 1919 and baseball changed some rules — including using new balls in every game so you could actually see what you were swinging at — Joe Judge could have insisted that this wasn’t fair, that Major League Baseball was stealing his livelihood, and that Ruth’s ungodly salary represented the one percent. He could have occupied Griffith Stadium.
Instead, he accepted that the old way of doing things was gone, and it wasn’t coming back. And he helped the Senators win the World Series in 1924.
Mark Judge is the author of A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.