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Oneís politics donít dictate oneís morals

R. Alex Whitlock

I have a good number of acquaintances who are conservative. They either vote straight-ticket Republican or vote Republican with a dash of Libertarian here and there. Sometimes theyíll throw in a conservative Democrat or two for good measure. While some of them are really nice people whom I admire, there are others I keep at a distance.

I also have a good number of acquaintances who are liberal. They hold conservatism in contempt and have never voted for a Republican in their lives. Like conservatives, the liberals range from respectable to repulsive.

I mention this to highlight a simple matter. Political beliefs have little to no bearing on how admirable or repulsive their believers are. As there are conservatives I despise, there are liberals I canít tolerate either. Itís a simple lesson, but one that everyone needs to remember.

There is a troubling mindset among those that reside in the deep philosophical right and left. Their mentality is elementary, that their opponents are somehow morally corrupt while they are so righteously pure. Historically they have walked the high road and their opponents, desperate for lack of ideology, have persistently taken the dirt road. Letís get real, people.

The movie Primary Colors made an attack on the Republican behavior toward Thomas Eagleton, George McGovernís original vice-presidential candidate in 1972. Eagleton was apparently seeking help and the Republicans exploited this to help Nixon return to the White House.

Conveniently forgotten by the left, however, is that in the 1964 presidential election the Democrats brought out psychologists who labeled Barry Goldwater as mentally insane. Whether or not Eagleton or Goldwater had deep-rooted psychological problems may or may not be important, but both sides must face the reality that they have played dirty tricks.

Ken Starr has been demon-ized by Democrats and the left for being out of control. He was let out of control by the independent counsel statute the Republicans wished to do away with a number of years ago, but that the Democrats insisted remain. Starr has been accused of being politically motivated, which is an accusation not without validity. They forget, however, that Lawrence Walsh released indictments days before the 1992 election to help do George Bush in during his re-election bid. The indictments could have waited, but did not for what can only be seen as political motives.

The left also cries that the Republicans are attempting character assassination by investigation. Not that they didnít do the same thing to Clarence Thomas and John Tower, trying to block their nominations for personal and political, not professional, reasons. Perhaps they considered sexual harassment to be a professional liability.

Oh wait, wasnít Clinton sued for sexual harassment by Paula Jones? Oh right, that was never proven. Come to think of it, neither were Anita Hillís accusations. Investigations certainly could have been done before the Thomas hearings, but they werenít.

I do not wish to pick on only the left, mind you. The right is equally hypocritical. It is almost humorous to watch them get up-in-arms about sexual harassment when they never shown any interest in the matter before. That of course changed when Republican Enemy No. 1 was accused of it. Suddenly the Independent Counsel statute, which the Republicans so vigorously attacked during the Reagan/Bush years, came in awfully handy.

The problem is that we have come to define our philosophical enemies by their views. Take a look at a few of the hot-button issues of the day. On the issue of affirmative action, to hear the opponents tell it, the proponents are racist minorities who want special treatment because they refuse to work as hard as white people and Asian Americans. To hear proponents talk, "racist" opponents want to go back to the days of the Old South where the white man ruled unquestionably.

On the issue of abortion, Pro-choicers paint all pro-lifers with a very broad stroke: They are all vicious killers who go around bombing abortion clinics. Pro-lifers, for their part, call the pro-choicers genocidal baby killers.

As long as there is this ignorance, no meaningful dialogue can take place. So, whether you are liberal or conservative, you must ask yourself, "Am I part of the problem?"

Hereís a simple test. if you believe "liberals/conservatives are right and conservatives/liberals are wrong," then rest assured, you are not part of the problem. If you believe "liberals/conservatives are moral and conservatives/liberals are immoral", you are standing in the way of progress.
 

Whitlock can be reached at 
rwhitloc@bayou.uh.edu

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