As a conservative I’m fighting each day to restore the constitutional republic our founding fathers gave us. My weapon in this fight is the words that I use in the articles I write. After all this an ideological war, one that pits two very different views about the role government should play in our lives. It’s a topic that has been debated since the founding of our great nation. Great minds like James Madison and Patrick Henry had two very different views on the role government should play in our lives and they matched wits against each other during the Virginia ratifying convention in 1788. Both men were Patriots and both men were concerned with securing the rights of the individual. They just had different ideas on the best method to use to secure those rights.
James Madison believed government should play a stronger role in our lives and therefore pressed for the ratification of the constitution. He believed that without the constitution the union would eventually unravel and come apart. He was a Federalist and one of the chief architects of the constitution. Patrick Henry on the other hand believed the constitution was too vague and that there would come a time when men who were not the same caliber in terms of the character of the founders would twist and distort the constitution to expand their power at the expense of liberty. Mr. Henry believed the states were sovereign entities that were more than capable in securing the rights of the people and that an all-powerful central government was not needed. Two opposing views desiring to achieve the same goal; the securing of individual rights. Mr. Henry was an anti-Federalist. Some of the best arguments for both sides of the debate occurred between these two men during the Virginia ratifying convention. You can read more about the debate here.
Even though both men philosophically opposed each other they also had respect for one another. They were cordial to each other and did not call each other names because they disagreed. Each man presented their arguments in support or opposition to the constitution to the Virginia Assembly. For both men the cause for liberty was greater than themselves so they chose their words carefully when they spoke.
The other day I wrote an article Why I didn’t watch President Obama’s acceptance speech and in that article I used the term Kool-Aid drinkers. When my wife read the article she said she liked everything about it except when I called Obama supporters Kool-Aid drinkers. She asked how do you expect to win over the hearts and minds of people when you resort to the same tactics the left uses. She said you’re smarter and better than that honey. At the time I really didn’t take her words to heart. I didn’t think calling Obama supporters Kool-Aid drinkers was that big of a deal. That changed when my wife shared the article on her facebook page and one of her friends responded with the following:
“The kool-aid drinkers and the ignorant….nice one! I can respect the fact that people have different political views than mine, I have no respect for the people who resort to degrading and belittling the people who don’t agree with them!! While it is quite despicable, it’s eye-opening at the same time…this country still has a long way to go!!!”
My first reaction was who does this person think she is, lecturing me about civility and name calling. After all the left labels me and calls me racist, Nazi, and extremist so why not push back. And I said as much in my response.
“I respect your opinion and this by no means is a knock against you personally. In regards to trying to weed out name calling and intolerance you need to look no further than the people who claim to be so tolerant of all…the left. People on the left who claim to be so tolerant are actually intolerant of my beliefs just because I refuse to blindly submit to an ideology that has failed over and over again throughout history. They’re the ones calling me a racist, a Nazi, an extremist because I believe in the individual and liberty and reject collectivism. They’re the ones calling me extreme because I believe we should restore the law of the land that is our constitution. I really don’t need to be lectured by people who are intolerant of me because of my beliefs and who have a great deal of contempt for our founding principles that promote individual liberties. You’re right we have a long way to go, and perhaps I could have taken the high road and dropped the name calling, but I felt I needed to push back with the same tactics used against me from the left.”
After I posted my response my wife looked at me and said, “You’re missing the point.” I responded by telling her that I’m not going to be ridiculed for what I believe and I’m certainly not going to stand for being lectured by someone who throws their lot in with the people who label me. She smiled and said, “Babe you already have the winning argument, how is name calling going to add value to it.” The more I thought about it the more I began to understand what she was saying. The case for liberty is a winning argument no matter what political party you claim. And each day we fight, we fight for the liberty we once had as a people. This cause for liberty is bigger than us and it deserves better than petty name calling or the labeling of people. We have a responsibility to frame it in the correct context to advance it for all Americans. Resorting to name calling tactics takes away from the message we’re trying to convey and in this case actually became a barrier against effective communication.
Ronald Reagan was a rock solid conservative who embarked on a journey to advance the cause of liberty in America. He didn’t advance it by labeling or calling his opponents names. He advanced it by making the case for liberty through his words and actions and because of this he smashed down the barriers political parties had erected. A large number of Democrats received his message and crossed over the political divide to support his candidacy in 1980 and his reelection in 1984. They didn’t cross over because he was a great speaker or because of name recognition. They crossed over because he made the case for liberty and economic freedom. So from this point forward I will choose my words carefully. I will no longer use labels like Kool-Aid drinkers or Obamabots. I will advance the cause of liberty by making the argument that individual liberty is last best hope for America and I will take this charge seriously.
We can disagree with the left on the role government should play in our lives. But we’re going to lose this ideological war if we can’t sell the case for liberty. And when we stoop to their level and name call we shut down the lines of communication and greatly reduce the chance for liberty to be advanced. The cause for liberty deserves better from me.
Liberty forever, freedom for all!