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Three score and ten or more

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I KNOW I SAID I WOULDN’T POST ABOUT POLITICS ANY MORE

The following is a piece I wrote for a conservative facebook page of which I am a member.  I decided to put in on the blog since no-one reads it anymore, except family.

Election Fate (possible)

I am a conservative. I have been a conservative for a long enough time that I remember being seriously irritated when the Republican Party picked Dwight Eisenhower over Bob Taft for the Republican Presidential Nomination.

At the time, I had a radio broadcast called MR CHAIRMAN which was broadcast from my college to fourteen or fifteen commercial stations and three TV stations. It was sponsored by the Political Science Department, and in my irritation with the Republican Party I skewed the program into promoting Adlai Stevenson for president, until one day I took a few hours to really study the man, and sanity came back into use. I mention this because I think that the conservative cause and the Republican party are heading for an Obama election because we have become so narrow in some paradigms that many Republicans and Independents are reacting much the way I did back in the fifties.

What is a conservative. The common dictionary definition is:

Con·serv·a·tive

[kuhn-sur-vuh-tiv] Show IPA

adjective

1.

disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

That was approximately the definition that I learned in my two year term as a Political Science major in the early fifties.. Barry Goldwater in his book Conscience of a Conservative, (which I devoured at one time while working in the Goldwater campaign in Illinois) pretty much endorsed that definition while making specific conditions, institutions etc. which he felt were important. The most important one of these was adherence to the U.S. Constitution, keeping out of debt, not ignoring the constitutional requirements for sending soldiers into battle etc.

Nowadays, the definition of conservative, for most folks who consider themselves “Conservatives” is different for almost every individual (often depending on which Radio Commentator the individual listens to, or which TV talking head is favored.). Must of those “professional talkers have their own individual definition of the term and the title, and are quick to rage against any one who calls him or herself conservative who doesn’t fit into their (his or her) personal definition. Limbaugh (whom I have followed, sometimes enthusiastically and sometimes not at all) has shifted detailed definitions at least three or four times in the past couple of decades. If you listen to talk radio, over and over again you hear complainers who deny that one candidate or another is not really a conservative, and they are quick to quote actions that would fit into the dictionary definition but which don’t fit their narrow little paradigm. Many sound just like I sounded during the Stevenson/ Eisenhower contest. They have decided not to vote or . , , , , , , ,. Each one of these is actually deciding to elect Obama. The candidates themselves in this bloody campaign season have spent much of the time failing to advocate clear programs in favor of defining the opponents weaknesses in fitting into a personal definition of conservative. (About the only candidates who have not engaged in this stupidity were Herman Cain , Ron Paul, and to a lesser extent, Romney.)

I am on Face Book and many of the “friends” with whom I interact were my students during my forty odd years as a professor. (In spite of my beginning in Political Science, my field became Theatre, and to a lesser extent general oral communication. I am probably the only person who can claim –or who would want to- to have been introduced at a general faculty meeting as “The only Theatre Professor in the world who is politically six steps to the right of Genghis Khan.”) Most of them started out , as theatre people are like to do, as liberals, but many of them had reservations about Obama, but they have become, after listening to our candidates debate and define each other, have to the conclusions that “They are all idiots” I am really astonished at how many female acquaintances and “friends” have fallen for the Obama strategy of defining his violation of the Constitution in attempting to regulate Catholic doctrine and behavior as a women’s heath issue rather than a constitutional one.

It was only after spending weeks attacking the “non conservatism” of Romney that Gingrich finally clearly and excitingly defined what he would do , immediately upon being elected President. By then, many people had defined him as a bitter vindictive name caller. Romney spend a fortune and a lot of time trying to defend his conservatism and has just now began to clarify his specific plans for the presidency in some terms other than the generalities of attacking Obama and Obamacare. Santorum is still wasting great time attacking Romney’s moderation (He doesn’t fit my definition of Conservative), and when he does get specific about his ideas and programs he has done little, but reinforce the female conclusion that Republicans are focused on attacking their feelings about Republican attitudes toward women’s health, contraception and abortion, on religious grounds (not constitutional). He is now, also attacking higher education, for what purpose I can’t imagine..

I think we are in danger of electing Obama by our own narrow definitions of each other and by our lack of specificity in advocating programs, steps of action, clear acceptable (to all) constitutional traditions , conditions and institutions which we favor. I personally will vote for whomever the Republicans nominate, though I have reservations about them all. Ron Paul has financial appeal to an old Goldwater Republican but his Foreign policy terrifies me. Gingrich pretty well had me after the first debate, until, as I said on my answer to one of his financial appeals, he began to do Obama’s election work for him.

Romney’s business and history appeals to me in many ways but I am nervous about his ability to shake the image of Romney care, and his campaign in broad generalities. Santorum’s verbal development of a sort of Catholicism of the constitution bothers me, not as much in his specifics but in what I perceive as long range damage to any Republican on the ticket, but every day I perceive Obama as gaining strength through nature of our campaigns . I pray that I am mistaken

2 Comments:

At 7:00 AM, Blogger Ed said...

I call myself a conservative and my definition is that a conservative is someone who wants to reduce the size of the government back to what was originally defined in the Constitution. That is why as a conservative, I haven't voted Republican (at least for president) in my voting career which doesn't span nearly as far back as yours. Mostly I have voted for the Constitutional Party and occasionally the Independent Party.

Among the current candidates, the only one I really liked and voted for in the caucuses was Ron Paul but like you, he scares me with some of his other views.

Paul won't get the nomination so this fall I am going to be left with the same decision I have had all my life. Do I vote Republican for someone who doesn't meet my definition of conservatism or vote third party and thus maybe allow Obama another four years. My mind is still out on this question.

 
At 7:24 PM, Anonymous Kathleen said...

Well articulated, Richard. I have similar feelings as you. I live in Florida and held my nose and voted for Romney. I think he is good man and I admire his accomplishments in business, the Olympics and some of his work as governor. Of the candidates available, I believe he has the best chance to beat Obama. With that said, he presents himself as stiff and seems to lack the ability to inspire masses. He is a "geek" of sorts. Chrisma is not his forte and with campaigns today that is a huge deficit.

When Newt first hit the scene I thought, like many, I would love to see him debate Obama. Seconds later he turned my stomach for the very reason you mentioned. Santorum gets a "meh" from me and I must admit his contraception comments and the "snob" comment about college graduates was unbelievable. How much more can the Republican Party take? When I vote, I will vote as I always do and do my best to choose well for the country and my grandson. I will vote Republican and pray that Obama and his silver tongue will not fool our citizens again. Hope? Sinking fast.

 

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