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Pope Revisited

It’s funny how certain words or ideas remain in one’s memory, although no attempt was made to memorize them. Recently I have mentally revisited the words of Alexander Pope, first (and last) read in high school: "Tis hard to say if greater want of skill appear in writing, or in judging, ill." In the present climate perhaps he would have written: Tis hard to say if greater lack of wit appear in campaigning, or in judging fit. (OK, Alexander, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.) In other words, who’s the greater ass: the candidate, or the pathetic individual who takes him seriously?

It isn’t exactly the chicken-and-egg question, since the answer, I think, is fairly obvious. The greater ass is the citizen who allows himself to be drawn into this cheap drama. We expect the candidates to be liars and fools, but is it too much to expect that the citizens will eventually wise-up?

Consider these words from candidate Kerry: "This fight is about our future. About leadership. About making our system work for our people." Oh, spare me! Will there ever be any candidate who eschews such God-awful puerile rhetoric? I suspect that if I looked hard enough, I would be able to find, in the campaign speeches or literature of any candidate, an expression such as "my dream for America," or "my vision of a brighter tomorrow." Do we want leaders who are asleep, or suffering from hallucinations? Yet, year after year, we must endure this excruciating dreck about dreams and visions. Time to wake up!

Candidate Kerry also had this to say: "My first major proposal to Congress will be a realistic plan that stops spiraling healthcare costs, covers every child in America, and makes it possible for every American to get the same health care as any Member of Congress." Would including "every child in America" in Medicare double the number of people covered by that plan? I don’t know, but the increase would be enormous. And he proposes to do this while stopping "spiraling healthcare costs?" Is he an idiot, or does he think we are? And what does he mean by promising every American the same medical care that he gets? Does that mean we traipse off to Walter Reed and a deluxe suite for our next checkup? Finally, Kerry declares, "Making health care a right and not a privilege is something worth fighting for." Which means that the enslavement of American doctors, nurses, and hospitals, is worth fighting for, because if health care is a right, then anyone who declines to provide it is violating someone’s rights, and that’s a crime! I don’t expect to live long enough to hear some candidate declare that legal care is a right and not a privilege! After all, if I am somehow entitled to the same medical care as Sen. Kerry, as a right, why then I am entitled to legal representation by the Dream Team if the state charges me with violation of one of its myriad "laws." It’s my right, after all! Or does legal care for the masses carry less clout than the desires of the trial lawyers?

Or how about this: "For the first time in American history, we will lead into law a new Education Trust Fund that will guarantee we fully fund our schools and protect our children’s education from politics." We are to believe that vastly increased federal government involvement in education will "protect our children’s education from politics!" And the Senator adds that funding — "and that includes special education" — under his scheme "should be mandatory." In his next breath he dumps this one on us: "If I am President, this government will protect individual rights, not roll them back." Except for the rights of some Americans not to be forced to pay for the education of strangers, or provide health care to those who claim it as their due. And the individual rights of the unborn, or being-born, are not worth considering: "We will protect — a woman’s right to choose — ." Unless she chooses life.

The sag-faced Senator saves his most powerful salvo for the end. "We will begin a new era of national service. Enlisting a million Americans of all ages — from young people to America’s seniors — to serve their country. — We’ll require mandatory service for high school kids because you (sic) have a responsibility to your country too." Shades of Mao! Will we take turns working in the fields or factories? Of course, the Senator, automatically, I’m sure, and without even thinking about it, uses the term "country" for "government." He believes that high school kids — but everyone else, too — have a "responsibility" to their country. Isn’t that backwards? Isn’t it the country — i.e., the government — that is supposed to serve us, and not the other way around?

Those who take elections seriously should be concerned that this is the same old bull that candidates have been mouthing for decades. I’ve been talking about Kerry; but he is a generic candidate, a clone of all the others, past and present. What candidate will ascribe our economic problems to the use of an unconstitutional fiat money, which, century after century, and in country after country, has wreaked more havoc upon economies than wars and plagues combined? Which one will admit that Medicare and Social Security (among many others) are unlawful abominations, and should be done away with? Will any of the candidates opt for a foreign policy of non-intervention and non-interference, while promising to end government involvement in education, and the preposterous boondoggle of space "exploration?" Rhetorical questions.

Rather, we get more of this condescending blather about "visions for America," and promises, no matter how obviously illogical and preposterous, to every voting group that shows up to cheer and wave banners. Just change the color and design of those banners, and it could be Nuremberg in the 30s: a chilling spectacle then — and now.

Dr. Hein [send him mail] is a retired ophthalmologist in St. Louis, and the author of All Work & No Pay.

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