Divided? Not really

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 7, 2004

My friend Robert Pocklington writes elsewhere on this page about the meaning of Tuesday’s election. I’ve been trying to pay some attention over the past few days to what others are saying, because, frankly, I don’t have a clue what it meant. President Bush’s decisive victory just doesn’t jibe with polls that suggest a majority of Americans think the war in Iraq was wrong and that the country is headed in the wrong direction. What’s up with that? Read on.

Yes, I’ve been reading what the columnists in the New York Times have been saying (even William Safire and David Brooks, the conservatives). Friday I listened a good while to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity’s radio programs. I’ve steered away somewhat from the television talking heads simply because I’ve tired of them.

I’ve also talked to and had email exchanges with several Suffolkians, some of whom supported President Bush while others, to my surprise, we’re closet Kerry supporters.

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The analyses are all over the board.

While I’m all for personal responsibility and some of the other things Mr. Pocklington writes about, the main issue I take with his analysis is the following passage:

&uot;Democrats took a good licking and it’s well past time they quit knocking the government and blaming it for every blessed thing. They have never proven they could do a better job and now 29 states and three plus million citizens have spoken loudly to give conservatism a real chance by cooperating for a change. Liberalism is out, and should be. It is the cause of everything that could be considered wrong in America. Let’s get back to assuming responsibility for our actions and stop insisting on a free ride. &uot;

It’s like saying Republicans should have caved and gone away after Barry Goldwater’s landslide loss in 1964. Nonsense. Democrats should continue to fight hard for their core beliefs.

Most people, when referring to modern liberalism, date its inception to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1932 election. Basically, since then, America has been a liberal nation. Notions like Social Security, Medicare, school integration, the 40-hour workweek, sexual equality in the workplace – concepts firmly rooted in the fabric of our nation – are the products of liberalism. Are those who claim that liberalism has failed advocating a return to the days prior to 1932 – Jim Crow, slavery, orphanages, sweatshops, child labor,

women subjugated and frozen out of their fair share, etc.? I don’t think so.

The point is that America is a liberal nation – among the most liberal in the world – and will continue to be, whether people like Mr. Pocklington like it or not. Sure,

some of the programs conceived so long ago could certainly use some updating and tinkering, but their basic premise – that we need to look after those who cannot look after themselves and to protect the rights of the minority (whether its racial, sexual or religious), against the tyranny of the majority – is here to stay and does not conflict with the Bible. In fact, it goes pretty much hand in hand with much of what Jesus taught.

The problem is not liberalism as much as it is Democrats. They need to come to grips with a few basic facts about Americans:

nWe love our guns. Gun ownership is firmly rooted in our national psyche. They need to get on board with it and work to educate people on gun safety rather than working to eliminate guns.

nAs appalling as it may be to the likes of Bill Maher and Michael Moore, we’re a religious people and we want to have the freedom to express that faith whenever and wherever we so choose.

Religious freedom is a sword that cuts both ways.

nBut perhaps most importantly, Democrats need to start taking the high road in the political discourse. Quit condescending to what I heard so sarcastically described Friday as &uot;the Wal-Mart Voter.&uot; Those &uot;Wal-Mart Voters&uot; were once solidly behind the Democrats and their only salvation is to begin treating them with respect and repudiating those who do not.

Aside from that, most of us occupy the center, solidly supporting our aforementioned liberal legacy. It’s what makes this nation strong and good. We’re not as divided as one might think.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611, or via e-mail at andy.prtusok@suffolknewsherald