It’s bad enough to drive down the road talking calmly into the Bluetooth, while the white lines scream by at 72 miles per hour. But tonight I was screaming, weaving the little Jeep diesel in and out of traffic, pounding so hard on the dashboard that the kayak-induced crack in my windshield spread a good five inches. And all because I was listening to the Spratt-Norman debate on ETV radio.
I know the Republicans have basically given up on the race, and John Spratt is probably going to win the District 5 race. But it was no reason to let Ralph Norman’s robotic “conservatism” go unchallenged. John Spratt’s a gentle moderate, I know. But he’s not a debater. He gave a thoughtful, coherent defense of his record, and I applaud him. What he did not do was deliver a knockout punch that would have finished Norman off once and for all.
When Norman called him a liberal, Spratt did not say, “There you go again, claiming that the Republicans are conservatives. The last time I checked ‘conservative’ meant someone who conserves, who protects, who values the principles of two hundred and twenty-three years of constitutional rule. Your party is trying to replace that legacy with a statist big-brother government that wants control of our bedrooms, our churches, our schools. These neo-conservatives–which is just another word for big and bad government control of our lives–have engaged in reckless foreign adventures, destroyed our financial future, and set the world on a doomsday course towards nuclear annihilation, all the while chipping away at the freedoms that Americans died to preserve.”
When Spratt was asked if he regretted his vote to authorize the war in Iraq, he did not say: “Yes, I regret that I violated my own conservative principles in the interest of national unity. I gave authority to the President and he misused it, and thousands of our troops and innocent Iraqi civilians have died as a result.”
When Norman stated that pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq would turn over Iraq’s vast oil reserves to Iran, Spratt sat silently while Spartanburg Herald editor Terry Plumb was left to ask, aghast, “Are you saying we have the right to Iraq’s oil?” Spratt did not say, “This is what I mean, you are not a conservative, no matter how many times you claim the term. A conservative believes that national borders and property rights should not violated, but you think they should. A conservative does not believe that democracy comes out of the barrel of a gun, but out of the yearning of a people. You and your party are not conservative, and you should stop lying about it.”
Over and over again, John Spratt just let Norman spew forth lies, contradictions and hypocrisy. If the Democrats do win a majority in either house of congress, it will be only due to the American people’s own distaste for the neo-con utopians that are running the show, and their repugnance at the result of three decades of “conservative” rule. It won’t be because Democrats have run a campaign of ideas, principles and thoughtful alternatives.
Unfortunately, “we are not Republicans” is a pretty thin platform for governing. Right now, though, it’s all we’ve got.