Thu, Feb. 20

<CENTER><B>Letters to the Editor</b></center>

Liberal conservatism best defines America


Receiving the Verde Independent while in Seattle means there is a time lag in being able to respond to issues. I hope I'm not too late to respond to Arden Druce's letter, "The Meaning of Liberals," published April 18. While she is having fun in pointing the finger at liberals, her criticisms leave much out. I want to respond to some of Arden's accusations about liberal government.

Arden equates liberalism with egalitarianism, which she conveniently defines as a socialistic effort to make everyone economically equal. Let's then roll back the egalitarian measures of the past so it will be OK to pay women less than men and give minorities and women less job opportunities. Let's go even further and revise our Declaration of Independence by removing the phrase about all men are being created equal.

This is a statement of egalitarianism. It is an all=inclusive statement, so it doesn't prohibit the exclusion of egalitarian economics. By Arden's point of view, this is liberal and, therefore, bad, so let's remove the opportunities egalitarianism has brought us. No more Condoleezza Rice's and Colin Powell's. No more 40-hour work week.

More than once, Arden equated liberalism with socialism. Unfortunately, she didn't specify what brand of socialism. Democratic Socialists and Christian Socialist would object to being lumped in with Communists.

I take it that Arden would favor rolling back the socialistic legislation our nation has passed. What do we start with? Women's right to vote? Return to separate schools for whites and blacks? What about one of the great socialistic programs we've had, the GI Bill. This program brought the opportunity for higher education to all classes of people. Until this program, higher education was out of reach for most of the middle and lower economic classes.

Using Arden's insinuation, being a liberal and socialistic program, the GI Bill is bad.

Economically, the conservative administrations after World War I cumulated in the Great Depression and President Hoover's administration, the last conservative administration before WWII, could not end the Great Depression. Maybe the liberal approach to find a way out was wrong and the liberalism that brought cheap electricity into rural American, such as the TVA that brought cheap electricity to the Tennessee Valley, should never have happened.

Arden writes that liberal means deficit spending. Isn't, though, the current conservative administration doing rather well in creating a huge deficit? During the last conservative administration, Reagan's, a huge deficit was also created. Conservatives campaign on a platform of being more fiscally responsible, but when in power conservatives have been as fiscally irresponsible as liberals, maybe even more so because at least liberals understood that increased spending required increases in tax revenue.

Perhaps the difference is that conservatives think deficits created by military spending are good while liberal think deficits created by social spending (such as feeding the hungry) to improve the lives of Americans is better.

Arden equates liberals with more bureaucratic control of our lives. It is, though, the Conservatives who created the Patriot Act that gives the FBI the right to look into how individuals use public libraries in secret. And it is the current conservatives who have rolled back what could be made available under the Freedom of Information Act. It is also conservatives who want to remove a woman's individual right to choose to end a pregnancy.

The point is, the intrusion of bureaucratic control is not the sole property of liberals. On the other hand, what may be control to one person is freedom for another. Example: No-smoking laws intrude on the lives of smokers, but non-smokers have greater freedom to choose where to breathe smoke-free air.

As for liberals recognizing totalitarian governments and appeasing the enemy, who gets the best credit for defending liberty? Starting with Eisenhower, the Vietnam War stretches across liberal, conservative and moderate administrations. Looking back on the Cold War, it seems that conservatives and liberals usually chose the same communists to be friends with (such as, Yugoslavia under Tito) and to be enemies with (USSR and Eastern Europe). Neither liberal or conservative has shut the door to China and our track record in Central and South America also reveals that both conservatives and liberals supported totalitarian-like regimes.

Arden finds that liberals want to abolish our Constitution, but again the record doesn't support this. At present, it is the current conservative White House that has used the war on terrorism to restrict 1st Amendment rights. Is it conservative or liberal to not criticize the president? Not to question authority? To question government power, to criticize political leaders even in time of war or crisis is frequently said to be one of the wrongs of liberals. Isn't this, though, what our Founding Fathers did to break away from England. I suppose this was another bad thing done by liberals

Finally, it seems to me, if we look at the ACLU and our Founding Fathers, liberals stand for the right of people to make their own decisions, to think for themselves or, to put it in more conservative terms, for the right of people to control their own lives without government interference.

To Arden and other conservatives, defend your political point of view, but understand your history and recognize that our political system has succeeded for all these years because of compromise and a system of checks and balances that is influenced to by both conservatives and liberals.

Joe Stack

Seattle, Wash.

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