I wrote last week
that I was disavowing the Republican Party due to reckless spending, the
Patriot Act, and President Bush's reluctance to directly address us on the
dearth of Iraqi weapons. Without meaning to come across as self-important,
the response to my column has been so overwhelming that I'd like to spend
this week examining how it was received.
All right, all right. I mean to come across as self-important. Just a little bit, though. Work with me here.
Anyway, reactions to "A Warhawk Flies the Coop"
were positive, by and large, even among self-proclaimed conservatives --
in fact, especially among self-proclaimed conservatives. Some folks wrote
to me saying something to the effect of, "I hope they don't call you an anti-American
traitor now," but these emails outnumbered those actually calling me an anti-American
traitor. That's a good thing, from where I stand, since I'd prefer not to
think of myself as one.
I was, however, accused of a few things. For example, I was accused of being
a jackass, a socialist, and a Jew -- which sounds to me like a bad joke about
a schizo walking into a bar. I was also accused of condoning violence because
I said I want to learn how to handle a firearm. Thing is, I don't want to
learn how to use a gun in hopes that I'll use it, but rather in hopes that
I won't. Japan's Admiral Yamamoto once said, "You cannot invade the mainland
United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass." Indeed,
and what better way to deter threats both foreign and domestic?
Then there's the space program, which I apparently "oppose." The truth is
I'm all for exploring the final frontier. I happen to think it's a worthwhile
cause. But there are some brilliant men living here in America. Bill Gates
and Dean Kamen come to mind. These guys have deep thoughts and the pockets
to match. So if we're going to go to Mars, I'd like to believe the market
can provide us with a cost-efficient way of getting there. Or maybe it can't.
I don't know. I'm not an expert. Maybe we ought to democratize the moon after
all, and establish a governing council there.
Speaking of democracy, I was also informed by a few people that the fact
that Bush can't count on my vote this November means the Democrats can. Short
of claiming Janet Jackson's Super Bowl flashdance was accidental, nothing
could be further from the truth. But this brings me to my main reason for
revisiting last week's column.
While self-proclaimed conservatives either embraced what I said or said they
could sympathize, many self-proclaimed Republicans disagreed. For example,
I was told by one Web site that regularly syndicates my columns that they're
"disappointed" by the direction I've gone in. I'm not sure I've gone in any
direction at all. If anything, by standing for small government, I'm standing
right where I've been standing all along. The GOP is the one that's been
moving, and last week's column just acknowledged that fact.
Another site that regularly prints me says it will regularly ignore me from
now on -- not in as many words, mind you, but suffice it to say I've been
canned. I won't mention which site it was; they were kind to me, and I respect
their editorial vision. I will say, though, that I got the axe because they
said their readers might find my questioning of the president "offensive."
So it's all right when I question Bill Clinton -- which I haven't done enough
of lately; thanks for the reminder -- but not when I question George Bush.
Again, if that's their opinion, I'm fine with it. I respect it. But I do
think it's emblematic of something much larger than my dinky little writing
career -- such as a rift between Republicans and conservatives.
According to the aforementioned former syndicator, one day, I will hopefully
realize that no man or political party is "always right," thanks in large
part to sin. I don't disagree with the main point here. No man's perfect,
it's true. But if this is the doctrine of "Christian conservatives," so to
speak, then I would think I made the right decision in denouncing my having
had "faith" in the president. I mean, it's all right to like the occasional
statesman, but putting your faith in him? Should you really be putting your
faith in any human being? This is a question many conservatives seem to be
asking. Yet many Republicans don't seem interested in the answer.
In December, I wrote, "Our civil liberties are at risk in America, but it
isn't a George Bush thing. It isn't a Bill Clinton thing. It's a government
thing." But the way we put such trust in these people, you'd think that we
think they're our gods. Is it any wonder, then, they act as though they're
A few days after I handed in last week's column, Bush said he'd ask Congress
for an $18 million increase for the National Endowment of the Arts. It was
also revealed that the changes to Medicare would cost -- surprise, surprise
-- more than initial estimates. No president can be everything to everyone,
but this one tries. They all do. Being everything to everyone is the best
way to get votes. But it's also the best way to accumulate far too much power,
which is precisely what our presidents have done.
You can see this at work in the candidates, too. When mad cow disease grabbed
headlines late last year, Howard Dean pinned it on Bush. He said the outbreak
"raises serious concerns about the ability of this administration to protect
the safety of our nation's food supply." And meanwhile, John Kerry proposed
"a national tracking system… to follow animals 'from birth to slaughter'"
-- a scenario that somehow manages to combine the eeriest elements of 1984
and Animal Farm.
I understand their point, of course, as well as the seriousness of the situation.
But these things were said when the disease had been found in a single cow.
A single cow! But that's all it takes, in their minds, for the federal government
to get involved.
This is the sort of overzealous micromanagement we can expect in a country
where Washington, D.C., is supposed to solve problems local to the state
I often tell friends that my favorite president is Ben Franklin because he's
the only president with the decency to never hold the office. The line's
getting old and I plan on retiring it shortly, but the point remains the
same: The Oval Office has never been easy to keep clean. Scandals of various
shapes and sizes were old news generations ago. This isn't a knock on Bush's
WMD-gate, nor a knock on Clinton's Monicagate. It's just a general statement
that power corrupts and that we'd do well not to centralize it.
Think about it: When was the last time someone made a run for the White House
without promising to bring honor and integrity back to Washington? Hell,
even Beltway insiders advertise themselves as outsiders now. There's something
wrong with this. It suggests P.J. O'Rourke was right to call our government
a "Parliament of Whores." It also suggests that our government knows it.
The demise of self-rule is the greatest crisis we face in America. We're
all too willing to consolidate power in this country -- sometimes because
of expedience, sometimes because we like the guy in charge. It's always something,
though. We always find an excuse to trade liberty for security. We tell the
feds, "Sure, come raid my home," so as to protect ourselves from terrorism.
We say, "Sure, socialize healthcare," so as to emphasize the nanny function
of our nanny-state. We pledge allegiance to political factions, believing
the worst guy from our party is better than the best guy on the other side.
As the McDonald's lawsuits show us, we're addicted not to fast food but to
subservience -- indeed, when the government puts its greasy hands in our
back pockets, we refuse to "just say no."
Well, I, for one, don't plan on voting Republican this November. Nor do I
plan to vote Democrat. In all likelihood, I will submit a blank slate straight
down the line, or I will stay home. Our government's got enough consent as
it is. It doesn't need my support.
If the letters I've received since last week are any indication, at least now I know I'm not the only one who thinks this way.
Jonathan David Morris is a political satirist based in New Jersey. His website is Read JDM.