Citizen-Times, 4/2006

I don’t qualify as a liberal any more. I’m sane.

My father idolized Franklin Roosevelt. He took personal risks in working to oust the Cracker Party from its half-century hold on Augusta, Georgia.  I remember the night he slept with a ballot box under his bed, if he slept.  I absorbed from him a basic sense of fairness.

I’ve been more fiercely liberal in recent decades because the alternative crowd has been pushing ideas like “low taxes”(which really means “let’s tax working people and let rich people keep their dividends”) and “small government” (which means “let’s keep government from interfering with big business so they can make all the money they want, and oh well, never mind their employees and the environment”). I’ve regarded myself as keeper of the world that my grandchildren will inherit.

Now I look around and wonder what’s happening to liberalism. Today’s liberals seem to have gone totally bonkers.

All they seem to care about is their cause. They aren’t giving thought to cause and effect.

The occasion for this column is an article in last Saturday’s Washington Post titled, “…Anti-Bush Cries Get Louder.”  It was about growing sentiment around the country – including North Carolina, the article said – in favor of impeaching President George Bush.

Understand. Nobody writing on this page has derogatoried Bush more than I have.  But impeachment?  Have we lost our minds?

Why not, you ask? I’ll tell you why not.

America is tottering on so many disaster brinks I’ve lost count: budget deficit, trade deficit, job losses,  national forests’ being sold, the Muslim world against us, civil liberties eroding, dependence on foreign oil, and I’m just getting started.

Bush has proved even more incompetent than I said he would – but the voters reelected him. And he’s got three more years.  The country can’t afford a bitter fight over impeachment while the glaciers melt away.  Remember how Congress stood still for a year when Bill Clinton was on trial?

Further, there’s no chance whatsoever that impeachment will happen with a Republican Congress. And if Democrats win Congressional majorities in November, it would be a disaster for us to spend time on impeachment that should be spent on solving the country’s problems.  Not if we’re more than adolescent food-fighters, that is.

And if Democrats call for impeachment now, the voting public will say, “Sure, that’s what Democrats will do if we give them Congress: they’ll go after Bush.” And they’ll conclude, “I don’t want to watch that movie.”

Folks, not only am I against impeachment: I’d like to see Democrats work in partnership with the White House after they take Congress.  We need every resource the government’s got mobilized against problems like energy independence, Social Security and, yes, the Iraq War.  If Democrats don’t do what’s best for America, like Republicans have not done…well, they should.

Another one. Senator Russ Feingold has called for censure of Bush for the way he conducted warrantless wiretaps outside the law.  And all the liberal groups are whooping like people at a cockfight.  Hey, tell me:  was I asleep when a court or commission decided that what Bush did is in fact illegal?

Are the liberal groups just using impeachment and censure to raise money? Is Feingold just fishing for liberal votes looking to 2008?  Are they just giving Democrats a harmless way to vent their frustrations?  Do they really think that rational Americans want Congress to waste its time on this kind of nonsense?

The liberal activist group,, sent me a survey asking whether I thought they should support “progressive” Democrats opposing incumbent Democrats who haven’t spoken out strongly enough against the Iraq War.  I replied – and I had a whopping 14% on my side in the survey — “Are you crazy?  I oppose the war, but if you replace incumbent Democrats with neophyte Democrats in the general election, you’ll just be helping Republicans hold Congress.”

To me, that’s all that matters, politically, in 2006 – the Democrats’ retaking Congress. And I’m against anything that distracts from that one single objective. My word to all liberal causes, no matter how worthy you are:  Stay low!

I don’t want to feel righteous showing off my liberal ideals. I don’t enjoy feeling pure for purity’s sake.

I want to feel relieved — that Republicans can’t ruin America any longer.  I love America as I’ve known it —  the America my grandchildren will never know if Republicans keep power.