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Oh boy, it was one of those potentially explosive situations that we
joke about. You know the old advice — if you want to avoid a fight,
don’t discuss money, religion or politics with family. Well today,
money and religion had no part of it. Today, it was politics.

The bad part was it could have been awful. The good part — it
wasn’t and the door is still open for what I would term some sanity. In
fact, the door (and the mind) is still open and receptive to some facts
and information, and the good part is that at least there is an effort
to get some questions answered.

I got the call this morning from some out of town family members.
They were in the middle of a political discussion. “My guy against your
guy” — that kind of thing.

Is this true? How do you know? What’s the truth? What’s the real
story? That couldn’t happen, could it? How could such people do things
to hurt people, the country? What really is important? What about
choice? How come I never heard that before? How do I know what’s true?
If Gore is so bad, would Bush be better?

So they call me and say, “Help!” I am, after all, a talk show host,
and everyone knows that we know everything! Who else would they call?

What a way to start the day. And I hadn’t even had my first cup of
coffee!

Well, call me stupid or whatever, I dove right in. Not so much
because I’m a glutton for punishment (although an argument could be made
for that!) but because I truly believe that this election is a crisis
turning point for our country. It’s not just a battle between a couple
of candidates, it’s a battle of essential philosophical differences,
basic beliefs, ethics and standards.

I know that I wanted to convey the importance of that to the people I
was talking to, but you have to understand the basis for the discussion
in this case. These are educated people who come from families of some
means. In other words, while things didn’t come too easily for their
parents, it wasn’t a tough life for the kids.

Because of their ages, they are one of the generations affected by
the demoralizing changes in education over the last 20 years or so.
Because of the differences in their backgrounds, some went to public
schools and others to private schools. They are college-educated,
well-traveled, working people.

They are younger than Vietnam and Korea and older than Desert Storm.
Kennedy is a name in history and movies; Reagan, to some of them, is the
devil as personified in the popular media.

On the face of it, I could be angry at them, but I’m not. I can’t
blame them for what their parents gave them. I can’t blame them that
they are children of the media, which at this point in time not only
lies to them but deceives and seduces them with image, smoke and mirrors
to mask a political point of view.

I admit I’m pleased that at least they are asking questions. They
are not convinced there’s anything wrong with “their side” but they are
curious about the conservative view. At least — at least they are
curious enough to ask and open enough to talk about it.

But how, in the course of a telephone call, do you make up for the
dereliction of the media for 35 years, for the fatuousness of what the
churches and social organizations have foisted on them, for the
inadequacies of the school systems which have dumbed down education to
the point that not only are children not taught facts and information
but not taught the techniques of critical thinking? Big question, but
ever hopeful, I plowed right in.

The conversation ranged from national security, to borders, to the
environment, to the economy, and immigration, and Social Security, and
choice, and the readiness of the military, and schools, and language,
and political correctness and the media and on and on. What is the
difference between the parties? The candidates? If there’s a
difference, how important is it? Would a Bush presidency be any
different than Gore’s? The range of questions? Everything.

Bottom line, the only unasked question was: Who should I vote for, Al
Gore or George Bush?

They knew who I’ll be voting for, but they also felt that I would
level with them, and for that I was grateful. But how to answer their
questions without crossing the line from conversation to preaching, from
thoughtful and supportable responses to tub-thumping, mindless
partisanship.

So in I jumped. First and foremost, my concern is for my country,
which is based on a Constitution that clearly states inherent God-given
rights of citizens and which outlines how the system of checks and
balances is supposed to work.

I talked about the Declaration of Independence which, if you were to
read the grievances against King George, you would think that those wise
men then were writing about our situation today. Too much government
intrusion, too high taxes, too much government from afar and more. It
sounds like our complaints of today. And those are only three of the
complaints!

How did we get to this point in time when government gets bigger,
intrudes more in our lives, takes more of our money, takes away what we
can do with our property and in many cases takes away the property
itself, makes decisions about our families, our religion, our education,
our activities, and even where and how we live?

How did we get to this point in time when elected and unelected
people under the guise of “the administration” change the way our
country protects itself, guards our borders, commits to treaties which
can at their ultimate goal change not only our way of life but our form
of government and our system of justice?

How did we get to this point in time when the physical threat to our
very security is threatened by more and more dangerous people with
weapons they intend to use and we back away from taking the precautions
to protect ourselves and even reduce the size of our military forces?

How did we get to this point in time when the idea of protecting
ourselves individually or protecting ourselves as a country is regarded
by so many in power and in the media as wrong and dangerous?

How did we get to this point in time when the rights and freedoms our
Constitution outlines for us as being God-given and inalienable are
being taken away from us on so many levels that the average person
doesn’t even know what’s going on?

How did we get to this point in time when a State of the Union
address or a campaign stump speech becomes a litany of what the
government is going to do for you — give, give, give — everything from
more cops and teachers to free medicines to insurance and family leave
to child care and preschool and textbooks and teachers and more, more,
more?

The part that is left out of all of this is how to pay for it all.
Oh, I forgot. There’s a surplus. That’s it. Let’s spend it. But let’s
also remember where that surplus comes from: too many taxes paid above
and beyond current government spending. Their solution? Spend more!

Sorry guys, I’ve been around long enough, and know enough people
who’ve been around longer than I, to know that the words balanced
budgets were never part of the Democrat vocabulary. Spend,
spend, spend and when the money ran out, raise taxes to make up the
difference.

So you like the idea of spending the surplus? Great. What will you
do to fund all these new giveaways when the surplus isn’t there and the
bucks stop coming in? Just how will you fund Social Security and how
much of your paycheck will Uncle Sam take to do it? It will happen;
it’s just a matter of time.

And that’s the problem. The politicians today who are promising the
moon know that when you-know-what hits the fan, in terms of the economy,
they’ll be out of office and many of them will be dead and gone.

But their children will be here and so will their grandchildren. And
mine too, and that’s why I care as much as I do. Not only do I care
about the welfare of my country, but I also want it to be the country it
was for me. A country in which kids could say, “It’s a free country!”
When was the last time you heard a kid, or anyone in fact, say that?
That’s the problem.

We’ve lost too many of our freedoms. We have to ask permission;
we have to get permits, and licenses, and there are laws and ordinances
and treaties and political correctness. We have to watch our backs and
our fronts and our mouths and our hearts and our brains.

So what does all that have to do with Election Day? Everything, my
dear family and friends. Everything. None of the candidates on the top
of the ticket is perfect; nor are any all the way down the ballot in
whatever state or municipality in which you reside. No one is asking
for or demanding perfection; that is not possible with human beings.

What is possible is a clear choice, even if you only look at the
Democrat and Republican candidates. The philosophy is distinctly
different. If you add the Libertarians, Reform and Green candidates,
the distinctions are even more notable.

The basic issue is the role of government in our lives. What should
government do? How much should that cost? How much control should
government have over what we do and how we live?

In my opinion, the role of government is to keep the country safe and
secure, provide infrastructure, follow the Constitution and get out of
our way. Our constitutional roadmap provides the guidelines to enable
us to exercise our freedoms to succeed or fail on our own. We don’t
need a push and we don’t need a crutch. We need only opportunity which
is what the United States of America has stood for all these years.

It was that freedom and that opportunity which drew my family to this
country years ago. They didn’t ask for anything, just the opportunity
to be left alone to work and try to succeed. Protecting those freedoms
is what drew my family members to fight in World War I — to fight and
lose their lives in World War II — to serve with honor in several
branches of the service during Korea and Vietnam — and to proudly wear
the uniform of their country as I write this. Those men put and are
putting their lives on the line to protect us. We owe them thoughtful
choices on Election Day.

I don’t want our freedoms to change for me, my family, my children
and my grandchildren — nor for yours. There is a difference between
the two top candidates and it’s reflected in what they say. Gore says
he will have government do for us (and to us) and Bush says government
is there to keep us safe and get out of our way.

It sounds so simple and logical and it could be, if we only listen to
what these men are really saying and do not listen to the media
interpreters with their own agenda and spin.

I’ll let you know next week if my talk did any good, but then we’ll
all find out Tuesday night, won’t we?

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