I just learned that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has passed on.
I suppose that I liked Margaret Thatcher’s policies back when I was a conservative. I would read in my college political science class about how she rolled back government and cut taxes and government spending, and inflation in Great Britain came down. I would think to myself, “Of course! That’s how it works!” As time went on, however, I learned that she cut some taxes but imposed others; that her spending cuts were quite draconian and hurt people; that she was all for fiscal responsibility, until she decided to launch that invasion of the Falklands; and that there were economic problems that got worse on her watch (unemployment, at least until 1987). Plus, while I think that she deserves some credit for the fall of totalitarian Communism, I don’t believe that she was a fine judge of character in standing up for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet as long as she did, trying to help him to escape being held legally accountable for his human rights abuses.
So, on some level, she is one of the many exemplifications of my disillusionment with conservatism. That’s not to say that I lean toward the other extreme, for I can understand her concern that unions were holding the country hostage. In a poignant scene of the movie The Iron Lady, in which Meryl Streep plays Margaret Thatcher, Thatcher cannot tolerate the stench of garbage on the street, which is due to a strike. That’s a good example of why I struggle over unions: I am sad that their influence in the U.S. has declined because they ensured that workers were paid a decent wage and that wealth was more evenly distributed, and yet I don’t like the way that unions have held places hostage with their strikes.
Margaret Thatcher is someone I would like to read more about. It’s not because I agree with all of her policies, though I do find them intriguing, as someone who has enjoyed reading about conservatism. Rather, it’s because she was a strong woman, in a world that was dominated by men. I’d like to read about her, the same way that I would like to read books about Hillary Clinton. Someday, I plan to read books by and about Thatcher. I won’t do a Year (or More) of Thatcher, the way that I’m doing a Year (or More) of Nixon. But I’ll read some books by and about her.
I watched The Iron Lady not long ago, and another poignant scene in that movie was when the elderly Thatcher was in a small grocery store. Nobody recognized her! People cut in front of her in line! They didn’t realize that they were in the presence of a notorious figure in history.