Recently two of Juneau's eminent seniors published My Turn columns extolling the virtues of liberalism. On June 28, Mr. Charles Campbell, 81, "America Should Embrace Liberalism," and on Aug. 2, Mr. George Rodgers, 89, "A Liberal Is What I Am."
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Being but a mere 73 years old, I am reluctant to contest such distinguished senior gentlemen, but being in disagreement, I must.
Mr. Campbell wrote sharing some personal history and his distress at the reports of a recent suicide. He then demanded universal health care. This despite the fact universal health care has always been a universal failure. Doesn't Mr. Campbell remember "Hillary Care?" Not even a Democratic Congress would bite that apple. Our health care system of Medicare, Medicaid, open emergency rooms, private insurance, personal physicians, sliding-scale-fee clinics and hospitalization treatment before fee collection, all constitute a workable system suitable for a pluralistic nation with a diverse demographic. To the extent that there are some flaws, there are tens of thousands of doctors, nurses and health care professionals working to improve what is already the best system in the world.
Mr. Campbell continues by citing a list of liberal non sequiturs and hyperbole. Mr. Campbell claims to be "in some ways deeply conservative" and also an "unapologetic, unequivocal liberal." A mind boggling incongruity for which he claims Jesus as a liberal despite liberals' 50-year attack upon Christianity in public life. He then cites Nelson Mandela as a hero of liberalism. Mandela is a terrorist who came to power by filling tires with gasoline and hanging the tire around the neck of an opponent and setting it on fire. Not quite Gandhi. Mr. Campbell also cites a stream of famous names with the coherence of a James Joyce novel and just as little significance. He then reveals his real issue. He is anti-war and anti-Bush.
Mr. Rodgers writes in support of Mr. Campbell with the theme as before. That is, an admirable personal history, several paragraphs of name dropping and a few charming anecdotes of fireside chats and Boy Scout parades. He then suggests we read Time magazine as a cure for "historical illiteracy," and he believes democracy is an "experiment which defines liberalism."
Well, Conservatives hold that democracy is not an" experiment." It is the "separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's god entitles (us)," "endowed by (our) creator with certain unalienable rights." No liberal wrote those words, nor do they describe an "experiment." What they do describe is the basic tenet of conservatism and the reason we oppose most liberal social and civic experiments in our efforts to secure for the future that which was our inheritance. History proves us most often correct in our opposition. Remember the busing of school children which placed our children in the oppressive atmosphere of riding four or five hours a day across town in an effort to achieve some ideal of racial equality - an experiment abandoned in failure after disrupting families, tearing asunder whole communities and leaving many school districts in chaos, an experiment of such wreckage that, in the Lower 48, many schools no longer provide an education? And as liberals continue to experiment, our universities increasingly flounder.
Want more examples? How about the liberal welfare state that created a class of dependency only now being freed by conservative reforms? Or the now-discredited attempt by liberals to impose a quota system to replace meritocracy? Or the liberals' experiment in the horror of partial-birth abortion? Or the endless list of reckless liberal experiments that without opposition would have left America with 50 official languages and a shattered identity.
It is the conscience of conservatives that rejects the liberals' reckless compulsion to experiment with our freedoms. It is the conscience of conservatives that seeks progress and a greater society in a measured fashion that does not do violence to the "self evident truths of the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Not the least of which is liberty. Which now remains at risk as liberals experiment with appeasing terrorists.
And as we oppose this latest experiment let us not forget our heritage, and may we continue to honor it by defending it.
Andrew Pope is a Juneau resident.