For People Who Think

December 6, 2011

The Modern Malady – All Opinion & Very Little Fact…by Dan Lynch

Filed under: Uncategorized — 4peoplewhothink @ 2:57 pm
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“I’m a conservative,” he was saying to me. “I’m a proud one, too.”

I was in an auto salvage operation looking for a part for a car – a part that couldn’t be had new, by the way, even though the car is only five years old. Ever since General Motors went into bankruptcy, getting new GM parts has been a nightmare, the repair shop owner told me. Apparently, when GM went belly up, so did a number of its suppliers.

This big, white-haired guy was behind the counter of the salvage operation, extolling the virtues of Newt Gingrich. I asked him where he was coming from. That’s when he told me he was a conservative.

“And who are you gonna vote for?” he demanded – just a bit bellicosely, I decided.

“I have no idea,” I told him. “I’m an independent, so I can’t vote in anybody’s primary. And before I vote for President next November I want to hear a campaign. I want to hear what these people have to say about fixing unemployment, about breaking up the banks that are too big to fail, about the national debt and foreign policy. If you know who you’re going to vote for now, that means that you’re a straight party voter, and that means that you’re one of the people who’ve screwed up the country.”

“What?” he said. “The people who belong to political parties have screwed up the country?”

I said to him, “Did you ever hear of a guy named George Washington?”

“Yeah, once or twice.”

“Did you ever read his farewell address – the speech he gave when he left office?”

“Which part of it?” he wanted to know.

“Any part of it?”

“Well,” he said more quietly, “not that I remember. Washington was a conservative, too, though.”

I took a deep breath and kept my mouth shut for a moment while I struggled to keep the top of my skull from blowing off into the ceiling.

“Actually,” I told this guy finally, “Washington wasn’t even a liberal. He was a radical. So were all those guys – Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, the whole crowd. They were way past left-wing. They were bleeping revolutionaries.”

“Well, yeah,” he said. “I guess they were at that.”

“Anyway, what Washington did on his way out the door was to warn everybody not to get together in political parties. He said it’s only natural for people to want to get organized to get things done, but he warned that the elevation of one party over the other in an election could lead to ‘despotism.’ He was pretty emphatic about it, too. Political domination by one party could lead to war, he said.”

“So, what happened?” the guy asked me. “We’ve always had political parties.”

“You bet. They haven’t always been the same parties. After Washington left, the two parties were the Federalists and the Democratic-Republican party. The parties squared off against each other the instant Washington walked out the door to go back to Mount Vernon. His desk chair was still warm. It has been political warfare ever since. Washington was absolutely right, only nobody listened to him.”

“Well, we got ‘em now,” he said.

“Yeah,” I replied, “and they make it impossible to get anything done. Republicans in Congress are so afraid of the right in primaries and Democrats are so afraid of the left that the parties can’t get together on any kind of deal to fix anything that’s wrong.”

“Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all,” he argued.

“Sometimes that’s true,” I agreed, “but take a look at who our heroic figures in American history are. From the beginning, the people we’ve honored were the people who made big changes – the people who valued progress over keeping things the way they were or returning them to the way things were before then. That’s who Washington was, who Jefferson was, who Lincoln was, who Roosevelt was. The people who wanted things to stay the same were the conservatives. When they ran things, nothing got better. Name one conservative President people remember as a hero.”

“Reagan,” he said.

“It’s too soon to say that,” I told him. “The verdict of history isn’t in on Reagan yet. By the time it is, we’ll both be dead. The only fair way to judge a President is judgment by a later generation. John F. Kennedy is an example of that. He doesn’t look quite as good today as he did 50 years ago, does he?”

“Lincoln,” he argued.

“A civil war started when he got elected,” I said, “which proved Washington’s point about political parties. Oh, and Lincoln freed the slaves, too. Talk about big government. Lincoln was nobody’s conservative.”

“Well,” he said, “I’m one. Nothing you had to say has changed my mind on anything.”

“Yeah,” I told him, “and that’s the problem. Nobody changes anybody’s mind on anything any more. Sort of reminds me of what I’ve read about 1861.”

“What happened then?” he asked.

“Nothing I’m going to take up your time with,” I said.

1 Comment »

  1. I Love ya Dan. You need to get back on the radio. You’ve made be pay attention to details ever since I was 26 and I won’t forget the favor. Every time I get into an argument with someone about anything, I can usually win by simply stating: “Show me the facts to back up what you are saying. Don’t tell me what someone else said.” No one ever wants to bother with that. Same crap, different shovel.

    Comment by Aaron Boule — December 7, 2011 @ 2:15 am | Reply

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