Liberals and Conservatives

Enough! Let's nip the Republicans' red-baiting in the bud right now.

Reviving through demagogic excess a shameful period in this nation's history, Bush and Dan Quayle have been attacking political liberals as extremists, far outside the mainstream of American political thought. Not only is this nasty, it is nonsense. As any political scientist can tell you, the overriding political tradition of this country is liberal.

In the "Dictionary of American Politics," Edward C. Smith and Arnold J. Zurcher define liberalism as "a form of government and . . . a governmental policy judged most favorable to individual liberty. The form came to mean constitutionalism, with stress laid upon written constitutions, bills of rights, the separation of powers, and checks and balances. The policy became identified with laissez faire ." What parts of that definition do Bush and Quayle find so offensive?

There are only three possible reasons for the attacks on liberalism by Bush and Quayle: They are genuinely ignorant about American traditions; they are seeking to win votes through cynical manipulation of public opinion, or they simply do not support the fundamental premises of American government and politics. Any of these possibilities ought to disqualify the Republican candidates from holding public office.


Van Nuys

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