A Few Facts Most Conservatives Would Rather Ignore
At Daily Kos, Richard Riis has listed 13 facts about this country that most conservatives would rather ignore. Here are my favorites from his list:
* Conservatives opposed the Founding Fathers, the American Revolution and a lot of other righteous stuff as well.
By definition a conservative is one who wishes to preserve and/or restore traditional values and institutions, i.e. to “conserve” the established order. No surprise then that 18th century American conservatives wanted no part of breaking away from the British Empire and the comforting bonds of monarchical government. Those anti-revolutionary conservatives were called Tories, the name still used for the conservative party in England. The Founding Fathers? As radically left-wing as they came in the 1770s. The Boston Tea Party? The "Occupy Wall Street" of its day.
Some of the other "traditional" values supported by conservatives over the course of American history have included slavery (remember that the Republican Party was on the liberal fringe in 1860), religious persecution, the subjugation of women and minorities, obstacles to immigration, voter suppression, prohibition and segregation. Conservatives started off on the wrong side of American history, and that's where they've been ever since.
* The United States is not a Christian nation, and the Bible is not the cornerstone of our law.
Don’t take my word for it. Let these Founding Fathers speak for themselves:
John Adams: “The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” (Treaty of Tripoli, 1797)
Thomas Jefferson: “Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.” (Letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814)
James Madison: “The civil government … functions with complete success … by the total separation of the Church from the State.” (Writings, 8:432, 1819)
George Washington: “If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.” (Letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789)
You can find a multitude of similar quotes from these men and most others who signed the Declaration of Independence and/or formulated the United States Constitution. These are hardly the words of men who believed that America should be a Christian nation governed by the Bible, as a disturbing fundamentalist trend today would have it be.
* The Pledge of Allegiance was written by a socialist.
The Pledge was written in 1892 for public school celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. Its author was Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, Christian socialist and cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy. Christian socialism maintains, among other ideas, that capitalism is idolatrous and rooted in greed, and the underlying cause of much of the world’s social inequity. Kinda puts the red in the ol' red, white and blue, doesn't it?
* Roe v. Wade was a bipartisan decision made by a predominantly Republican-appointed Supreme Court.
Technically, Roe v. Wade did not make abortion legal in the United States, the Supreme Court merely found that the state of Texas’ prohibition on abortion violated the 14th Amendment Due Process Clause and that states could exercise varying degrees of discretion in regulating abortion, depending upon the stage of pregnancy. The Court also held the law violated the right to privacy under substantive due process. That being said, the landmark 1973 ruling that conservatives love to hate, was decided on a 7-2 vote that broke down like this:
Majority (for Roe): Chief Justice Warren Burger (conservative, appointed by Nixon), William O. Douglas (liberal, appointed by FDR), William J. Brennan (liberal, appointed by Eisenhower), Potter Stewart (moderate, appointed by Eisenhower), Thurgood Marshall (liberal, appointed by LBJ), Harry Blackmun (author of the majority opinion and a conservative who eventually turned liberal, appointed by Nixon), Lewis Powell (moderate, appointed by Nixon). Summary: 3 liberals, 2 conservatives, 2 moderates.
Dissenting (for Wade): Byron White (generally liberal/sometimes conservative, appointed by JFK), William Rehnquist (conservative, appointed by Nixon). Summary: 1 liberal, 1 conservative.
By ideological orientation, it was an across-the-board decision for Roe: conservatives 2-1, liberals 3-1, moderates 2-0; by party of presidential appointment: Republicans 5-1, Democrats 2-1. No one can rightly say that this was a leftist court forcing its liberal beliefs on America.
* The first president to propose national health insurance was a Republican.
He was also a trust-busting, pro-labor, Nobel Peace Prize-winning environmentalist. Is there any wonder why Theodore Roosevelt, who first proposed a system of national health insurance during his unsuccessful Progressive Party campaign to retake the White House from William Howard Taft in 1912, gets scarce mention at Republican National Conventions these days?
* Those "job-killing" environmental regulations? Republican things.
Sometimes being conservative can be a good thing, like when it applies to conserving America's clean air and water, endangered wildlife and awesome natural beauty. Many of Theodore Roosevelt's greatest accomplishments as president were in the area of conserving America's natural environment. In 1905, Roosevelt formed the United States Forestry Service. Under his presidential authority, vast expanses of American real estate were declared off limits for private development and reserved for public use. During Roosevelt's time as president, forest reserves in the United States went from approximately 43 million acres to about 194 million acres. Talk about big government land grabs!
The United States Environmental Protection Agency, arch-enemy of polluters in particular and government regulation haters in general, was created by that other well-known GOP tree hugger, Richard Nixon. In his 1970 State of the Union Address, Nixon proclaimed the new decade a period of environmental transformation. Shortly thereafter he presented Congress an unprecedented 37-point message on the environment, requesting billions for the improvement of water treatment facilities, asking for national air quality standards and stringent guidelines to lower motor vehicle emissions, and launching federally-funded research to reduce automobile pollution. Nixon also ordered a clean-up of air- and water-polluting federal facilities, sought legislation to end the dumping of wastes into the Great Lakes, proposed a tax on lead additives in gasoline, and approved a National Contingency Plan for the treatment of petroleum spills. In July 1970 Nixon declared his intention to establish the Environmental Protection Agency, and that December the EPA opened for business. Hard to believe, but had it not been for Watergate, we might remember Richard Nixon today as the “environmental president”.
Oh, yes – conservatives would rather forget that Nixon was an advocate of national health insurance, too.
* President Obama was not only born in the United States, his roots run deeper in American history than most conservatives’ - and most other Americans' - do.
The argument that Barack Obama was born anywhere but at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, is not worth addressing; the evidence is indisputable by any rational human being. But not even irrational “birthers” can dispute Obama’s well-documented family tree on his mother’s side. By way of his Dunham lineage, President Obama has at least 11 direct ancestors who took up arms and fought for American independence in the Revolutionary War and two others cited as patriots by the Daughters of the American Revolution for furnishing supplies to the colonial army. This star-spangled heritage makes Obama eligible to join the Sons of the American Revolution, and his daughters the Daughters of the American Revolution. Not bad for someone some conservatives on the lunatic fringe still insist is a foreigner bent on destroying the United States of America.