In Tony Casey’s excellent story on April 12, “Cutting a hole in the ‘safety net,’ ” he presented the main points made by Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer during his recent speech at the Millennium Centre. A respected conservative columnist, Krauthammer’s opinions are to be taken seriously.
On the current discussion over whether we need more liberty or more equality, Krauthammer comes down against “big government.” Yet, Krauthammer accepts Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, which expanded the scope of government, including passage of the Social Security Act, to deal with the crisis of the Great Depression. Krauthammer is definitely no uninformed ideological zealot.
I also tend to think that Krauthammer would agree that World War II and the Cold War required an equally strong response from the federal government. I would also like to think he would agree that a strong national effort was necessary to end segregation and enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.
His point that the back and forth of American politics is like a tennis match is well taken, with one side having the advantage at one point, and then the other side gaining the upper hand. That being said, when it comes to those ideals of liberty and equality, the Founding Fathers made it clear in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that this government, of the people, by the people and for the people is intended to establish liberty, justice and equality for all Americans.
Have the great problems confronting us as a people at this time in history suddenly vanished or so diminished that we can now shrink the size of government to what it was in the Gilded Age of the 1880s, or to that of 1780 under the Articles of Confederation?
FDR did what was necessary for his time. It is now time for liberals and conservatives to work together to achieve both liberty and equality. Let us not dwell on the differences between us, but work together, conservatives and liberals alike, toward achieving our common interests.
Colin Baxter of Kingsport is an emeritus professor
of history at East Tennessee State University.