Stuff Ballard Wrote

Tag: liberal

Back to ’06: Don’t impeach Bush!

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.

















I’m liberal like these guys

Daily Planet, 5/2014

I never called myself a “progressive.” It seems contrived by liberals to avoid being liberals.   I’ve been a “moderate” in recent years because liberals push private issues as fiercely as right-wingers push theirs.

But in fact, when I examine my deep beliefs, I’m definitely a liberal – in the historic sense.

I’m a liberal like Abraham Lincoln. I think if I had been around in the 1850s, living in the South, I’d have worked against the stupid idea of leaving the great United States over slavery. Maybe I’d even have ridden with WNC’s 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry in the Union Army.

I’m a liberal like Theodore Roosevelt. I’m with him in preserving wilderness for future generations and making selfish corporations think more of the public good.

I’m a liberal like Woodrow Wilson. I argue that America must lead the world – not like McCain interventionists want but as a shining lamp to the world for peace and humanity.

I’m a liberal like Franklin Roosevelt, who gave us Social Security, minimum wage, weekends and so much more. He was not content to watch working people and the elderly be treated with disrespect.

I’m a liberal like Woody Guthrie. I like to think I’d have joined with factory and field workers, singing myself hoarse on “You can’t scare me, I’m stickin’ to the union!” As Woody said, “I made up songs telling what I thought was wrong and how to make it right.”   A man for today.

I’m a liberal like Harry Truman. He took on the corporate war profiteers, integrated the military – and turned back the tide of world Communism. He had a sense for what is right, and he did it, no matter what.

I’m a liberal like Earl Warren, the Eisenhower-appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court. He went individually to the justices and challenged each one to do the right thing on school integration. The decision was unanimous. He was a leader when leadership was needed.

I’m a liberal like Lyndon Johnson, who strong-armed the Civil Rights Act through Congress, even though he knew it would mean the South would be Republican for decades.

Don’t call me a bleeding-heart. That says I’m a sucker for a sob story.

I’m in the long tradition of liberalism, dating back to the Old Testament law and prophets, that says people should treat other people fairly and justly, honoring the poor. And I have no question that I’m on the right side.

And I don’t doubt that right will prevail. The rich and powerful control North Carolina now, but the people cannot be deceived for long. North Carolina’s government will side with working people over the privileged. We will take on our role once again as protectors of the earth. Our sick, elderly, children and mentally ill will be cared for. Elections will be fair once again. Our schools and teachers will have what they need to prepare our children.

Until then, we must work. This year we must work to elect candidates who favor people like us, not the rich and powerful.

Classic liberalism vs. classic conservatism

Citizen-Times, 9/2012

I deeply believe that America’s future depends on our coming to a strong liberal majority.

Not the fringe that the media loves for their sign-waving and shouts of anarchy. I mean historic liberalism.

A speech by John Kennedy in 1960 describes historic liberalism well (Google “pbs kennedy if by liberal”). And one piece of that speech is particularly relevant to the choice we face in November:

“I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities….When [government] has a job to do, I believe it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them.”

And that’s precisely what happened in the 20th century. Liberals were in power when all the great and positive changes in American life took place: women’s suffrage, Social Security, minimum wage, GI Bill, Medicare, Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, 40-hour work week and overtime pay, unemployment compensation, child labor laws, school lunch program, Fair Pay Act, Medical Leave Act.   (Nixon enacted the Clean Air Act, but by today’s standards he too was a liberal.) We assume these benefits in our lives every day ─ but almost all, if not all, were opposed by conservatives (plus the Marshall Plan, FHA mortgages, Interstate highways, the TVA, rural electrification).

That’s been the pattern. Conservatives want government to stay out of the way and let “the market” solve problems in whatever way it will. Liberals get things done. Our great presidents, like the Roosevelts and Truman, understood the proper role of government. They solved problems. Indeed, that’s the great difference between historic liberalism and historic conservatism that’s relevant in 2012: problem-solving.

This is not a time for conservatives. We have problems, and conservatives have historically refused to confront problems head-on. Oh, they occasionally make a show of problem-solving ─ as George Bush did with prescription drug coverage, to take an issue from Democrats in the 2002 election campaign ─ but their heart is in the 19th century, when government trained an army and delivered the mail. They make a show of government restraint, but under both Reagan and Bush, the federal bureaucracy and budget deficits grew like weeds. It was Bill Clinton who brought budget surpluses.

I’ll give John Kennedy the final word: “Liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man’s ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.”


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