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I received some interesting e-mails in response to my last
column.

Last time I wrote that Republicans have nothing to fear from the dirty
campaign that Al Gore is guaranteed to wage against George Bush. There
is plenty of ammo available against Gore, and Bush appears to be
prepared to use it.

One e-mailer was pleased that I had focused on the “the extreme
tactics Gore has been using against both Bill Bradley and George Bush”
and wondered whether Gore’s tactics represented the “last, doomed
efforts of a political establishment whose time is past.” Another took
me to task for assassinating Gore’s character. I’ll respond to both.

The first e-mailer has obviously concluded that liberalism is a
bankrupt ideology and that liberal candidates must avoid genuine policy
debates and instead resort to underhanded methods to have any hope of
winning the election.

I do not believe that liberalism is dead or that it ever will be. The
ideas represented by modern liberalism have flourished more in history
than those of modern conservatism. Historically, freedom has been the
exception to the rule of tyranny, the logical extension of unbridled
liberalism.

I do not mean to imply that American liberals consciously promote
tyranny. But they do tend to advocate an approach to government that is
inimical to our political freedoms and would eventually lead to their
demise.

Because this nation was founded in liberty and is the beneficiary of
its freedom-preserving Constitution and its free-market economy, many
assume that freedom is not threatened by government largesse. Having
never experienced the absence of freedom, they don’t understand the
inverse relationship between governmental power and individual freedoms
or the trade-off between freedom and security.

So there will always be well-meaning idealists who believe that
government should be the primary distributor of resources. And for many
of them, it isn’t just a matter of ideology, but theology. Even
empirical evidence, such as the abject failure of liberalism’s Great
Society, will not shake their faith.

Apart from ideology or theology, liberalism would still not be in
jeopardy. While liberalism may be in disfavor with a majority of the
electorate on general ideological grounds, there remains a formidable
plurality of voters, consisting mostly of special interest,
government-dependency groups, whose survival depends on its survival.
They will continue to empower those politicians who will feed their
dependencies.

But to be honest, I doubt that conservatism is a majority ideology in
this country anymore either. Even if the country is “basically
conservative,” too many voters are driven by things other than ideology
to give either liberals or conservatives a clear majority on ideological
grounds alone.

Why, then, is Al Gore going so negative? According to Clinton, Gore
and many other prominent liberals, Republicans want to starve
schoolchildren, eradicate clean air and pure water, allow people to die
in gun accidents instead of standing up to the evil gun lobby, bankrupt
Medicare and Social Security, oppress women and minorities and foster
homelessness. Why this incessant scaremongering?

That’s easy. They do it because it works. They are not ideologically
bankrupt, but morally bankrupt. Clinton and Gore are not men of lofty
ideals, but base political power brokers. They will say whatever they
need to say and do whatever they need to do to acquire and maintain
power.

But the appropriate question is not why these men are duplicitous,
but what can be done to counter their deceit. And this brings me to the
other e-mailer’s criticism. To him I respond that conservatives are not
assassinating Gore’s character but facilitating his self-destruction by
exposing his own lies and misconduct. While we must always try to
persuade voters of the superiority of our ideas, we must also reveal the
character flaws of those who would be president.

Until corrupt politicians are made accountable for their duplicity
they will continue to deceive like unpunished juvenile delinquents. And
since the major media refuses to do its job of exposing their lies,
Republicans and the countercultural media, including conservative
columnists and those noble purveyors of truth on talk radio must step in
and fill the breach. If we refuse to do our part, then, like the
indulgent parents of juvenile misfits, we become co-conspirators in the
wrongdoing.

The nation cannot afford another four years of this insanity.

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