Jewish World Review March 20, 2000 /13 Adar II, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- I RECEIVED some interesting e-mails in response to my last column. Last time I wrote that Republicans have nothing to fear from the dirty campaign that Al Gore is guaranteed to wage against George Bush. There is plenty of ammo available against Gore, and Bush appears to be prepared to use it.
One e-mailer was pleased that I had focused on the "the extreme tactics Gore has been using against both Bill Bradley and George Bush" and wondered whether Gore's tactics represented the "last, doomed efforts of a political establishment whose time is past." Another took me to task for assassinating Gore's character. I'll respond to both.
The first e-mailer has obviously concluded that liberalism is a bankrupt ideology and that liberal candidates must avoid genuine policy debates and instead resort to underhanded methods to have any hope of winning the election.
I do not believe that liberalism is dead or that it ever will be. The ideas represented by modern liberalism have flourished more in history than those of modern conservatism. Historically, freedom has been the exception to the rule of tyranny, the logical extension of unbridled liberalism.
I do not mean to imply that American liberals consciously promote tyranny. But they do tend to advocate an approach to government that is inimical to our political freedoms and would eventually lead to their demise.
Because this nation was founded in liberty and is the beneficiary of its freedom-preserving Constitution and its free-market economy, many assume that freedom is not threatened by government largesse. Having never experienced the absence of freedom, they don't understand the inverse relationship between governmental power and individual freedoms or the trade-off between freedom and security.
So there will always be well-meaning idealists who believe that government should be the primary distributor of resources. And for many of them, it isn't just a matter of ideology, but theology. Even empirical evidence, such as the abject failure of liberalism's Great Society, will not shake their faith.
Apart from ideology or theology, liberalism would still not be in jeopardy. While liberalism may be in disfavor with a majority of the electorate on general ideological grounds, there remains a formidable plurality of voters, consisting mostly of special interest, government-dependency groups, whose survival depends on its survival. They will continue to empower those politicians who will feed their dependencies.
But to be honest, I doubt that conservatism is a majority ideology in this country anymore either. Even if the country is "basically conservative," too many voters are driven by things other than ideology to give either liberals or conservatives a clear majority on ideological grounds alone.
Why, then, is Al Gore going so negative? According to Clinton, Gore and many other prominent liberals, Republicans want to starve schoolchildren, eradicate clean air and pure water, allow people to die in gun accidents instead of standing up to the evil gun lobby, bankrupt Medicare and Social Security, oppress women and minorities and foster homelessness. Why this incessant scaremongering?
That's easy. They do it because it works. They are not ideologically bankrupt, but morally bankrupt. Clinton and Gore are not men of lofty ideals, but base political power brokers. They will say whatever they need to say and do whatever they need to do to acquire and maintain power.
But the appropriate question is not why these men are duplicitous, but what can be done to counter their deceit. And this brings me to the other e-mailer's criticism. To him I respond that conservatives are not assassinating Gore's character but facilitating his self-destruction by exposing his own lies and misconduct. While we must always try to persuade voters of the superiority of our ideas, we must also reveal the character flaws of those who would be president.
Until corrupt politicians are made accountable for their duplicity they will continue to deceive like unpunished juvenile delinquents. And since the major media refuses to do its job of exposing their lies, Republicans and the countercultural media, including conservative columnists and those noble purveyors of truth on talk radio must step in and fill the breach. If we refuse to do our part, then, like the indulgent parents of juvenile misfits, we become co-conspirators in the wrongdoing.
The nation cannot afford another four years of this
03/15/00: OK Al Gore: Let's go negative