A Conservative Viewpoint
- The ‘Liberal’ Torch Has Passed
Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony
With the death last week of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the left lost its liberal champion. “The Lion of the Senate,” as he was referred to by his colleagues, served that chamber 47 years. Kennedy was skilled at often brokering bipartisan support for legislative initiatives, such as his collaboration with President George W. Bush on No Child left Behind Act of 2001 and Part D of Medicare which covers prescriptions.
Kennedy’s passion was health care reform. In 1974, he put aside his differences with family adversary President Richard Nixon, partnering with him to try to offer legislation that would mandate all employers provide health insurance for their employees. Nixon’s presidency was embroiled in the Watergate scandal distracting him from pushing through with this initiative. When Gerald Ford assumed the presidency the economy was in a crisis with energy prices soaring. Health care reform was no longer a priority.
The Senator from Massachusetts was responsible for health care legislation, including the Health Insurance Portability Act (HIPAA) and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Kennedy considered health care as a fundamental right.
Kennedy was frequently a lightening rod for conservative anger. Unlike his brothers Bobby and Jack who condemned abortion, Ted supported it. The youngest Kennedy brother, able to show much empathy and compassion for the poor and the helpless, had none for the unborn.
At the 2000 Democratic National Convention Kennedy addressed the delegates reassuring them the Democratic Party would continue to provide women with the right to choose abortion up to the ninth month. The party’s presidential nominee, Sen. Al Gore, D-Tenn., formerly a pro-life advocate pledged his support for partial-birth abortion and opposition to parental notification.
It was Kennedy’s support that helped cement Barack Obama’s nomination for president last year. As a candidate Obama positioned himself as a political moderate (in spite of evidence and common sense to the contrary) during his successful campaign.
Kennedy would never have passed the liberal torch to a moderate. He knew then what many Americans last November wanted to deny. Obama is a liberal to the core. Anyone with doubt needs look no further than to the ambitious liberal agenda that is propelling our nation toward a financial abyss.
In his 1960 inaugural address, President John Kennedy, certainly no liberal, spoke the following words: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Today’s liberal version might sound more like this: Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what your country can do for you.
Today our government gives out money to almost everyone with a hand held out. Nationally it’s been trending this way for 40 years. Our national debt has grown from $347 billion in 1968 to $5.6 trillion at the end of the Clinton years to more than $ 9 trillion at the end of `08. Much of our overwhelming debt can be attributed to the expansion of social entitlements championed primarily by those on the left. Displaying empathy and compassion is admirable. Fiscal responsibility is admirable too. There has certainly been little of that.
Many Democrats, particularly liberals including the late Sen. Kennedy, continue to portray President George W. Bush as solely responsible for our staggering debt. There is no argument he played his part and I’m not going to defend Bush for his often economically irresponsible spending. However, blaming our staggering deficits primarily on the Bush tax cuts for the ultra-rich as the left suggests, is more self-serving to their liberal agenda, than any realistic analysis of fact.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office agrees. The Bush tax cuts, which also benefited the middle class, are indeed part of the problem. But so is a faltering economy and continued reckless government spending. Add to that the cost of two wars and the passage of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and one will have a more realistic picture of spending during the Bush years. In fact the CBO reports that even without the Bush tax cuts, we’d still have had big deficits.
During the last presidential campaign Obama and the Democrats railed against Bush and the Republicans for masquerading as conservatives. They were right. The Democrats rode to victory on a theme of hope and change. If part of that hope and change was reigning in government spending, this bunch must be tone deaf. In spite of every reasonable poll showing that Washington is perceived by voters as more out of control than ever, Democrats continue spending our nation’s future away as easily as if it were Monopoly money.
The Obama administration announced last week that our nation’s projected debt is now $20 trillion! Now Democrats want to add $1.6 trillion more for national health care. Some hope by naming this legislation after the late Sen. Kennedy, they will garner sympathy votes. Wrapping this bill in the gauze of Kennedy’s memory may not be enough to see it through.
Liberals believe there is no reason why we can’t have it all now. And it’s that thinking that has contributed enormously to our current financial morass.
The liberal torch has now passed from Kennedy to Obama and with it, the mindset that every problem can be solved by spending more money. Our path is unsustainable and bleak as long as this deluded thought process in Washington continues. Our politicians may not have the will, guts or common sense to change America’s current course, but the people do. I’m betting on them.
Hoping that the American people have the common sense to avoid socialized medicine is a risky bet. George W. Bush and Karl Rove committed themselves to changing the Republican Party's goals from individual liberty to complicit in the vote for bread and circuses previously championed by the Democrat party. They called it "compassionate conservatism" when it was really nothing but "compassionate communism". Yet more than a third of the Republican Party still embraces the idea. They even have the arrogance to proclaim that if you don't agree with their socialist agenda you are not a conservative!
My belief is that the concept of democracy always destroys freedom because the people cannot resist voting themselves free services. That is what our founders feared. However it has to be done slowly so that the "people" can rationalize that they are not being greedy. The only thing I see Obama doing is going too fast. If he slowed down, he could get enough of the American people to vote for his Marxist program that it would become the law of the land.
If that says that I am not betting on the “people”, it is only because there are many who are on Bob’s side who don't want to believe it can happen here. The problem is that it only takes a couple more who want socialism than want freedom to, over time, destroy what has always made America great. With the socialists in charge of our schools, I think we are very close to the tipping point that leads inevitably to socialist tyranny. Too many have been brainwashed with the Utopian dream to stop it.