Don’t call me Charlie, I’ll call you

By Margene Roper • Guest Columnist

Around 7:30 this evening my telephone rang and I rushed into the house from grilling steaks to answer it. A voice on the other end said “Health Shuler and his “liberal” followers (or cronies, or whatever, I forget ... my steak burned) want you to believe that Charles Taylor is not tough on amnesty (or something like that).” I hung the phone up.


Here’s a news flash for all Republicans! You lost my vote. When you shove the word “liberal” up my nose, you irrevocably lose my vote. How dare you intimidate me in my own home by insinuating that 1) a “liberal” is a bad thing, almost up there with pedophiles and 2) that unless I reject Heath Shuler I could be categorized as “with” him, in which case I would be subject to being called the same bad, dirty name “LIBERAL.”

When are Karl Rove and all you other wordsy, folksy players going to realize that salvation pursuant to the “liberal” bugaboo is not going to work this time. We voters are all far too disenchanted with the current administration and its policies to do anything but laugh at being labeled a liberal. And we are laughing at you, not with you.

Everyone knows that a Southern Democrat has historically been a lot less than liberal, in fact, more like Republican Lite. Yet this country, or should I say your party, has become so disoriented and clownish that you have actually lambasted the southern Clintons as a pair of “awful liberals.”

Give me a break. Where I come from, they are conservatives. Where you come from, they could at the most be called “centrist.” What is even more sickening is the fact that this country, MY country, has become so right wing as to believe this garbage. But make no mistake. Some of us still have a brain and we are laughing ... and not with you.

I personally am not a liberal, I am an independent. One thing I am sure of: I am damn proud not to be a “conservative.” Luckily, this is America, so I do not have to chose between one or the other ... but if I had to choose, I would choose to be one of those “awful liberals” (as your party calls anyone who is not right wing) over being a conservative. Want to know why?

1. I like my leaders to have a good “liberal” education, not graduate from Yale University as a cheerleader with a low C average.

2. I do not want my leaders to number Enron CEO Ken Lay among their buddies, although it doesn’t seem to bother “conservatives.”

3. I do not want my leaders to favor power and oil companies, like conservatives do, and make my state the most polluted in the Union.

4. I do not want the North Carolina treasury bankrupted to the tune of billions in borrowed money

5. Unlike conservatives, I prefer that my leaders not invade and occupy two countries at a continuing cost of over $1 billion per week, spend the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupt the U.S. Treasury and shatter the record for the largest annual deficit, set an economic record for the most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period and finish it off with an all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.

6. I prefer that more than 2 million Americans not lose their jobs the first year my leader takes office with the richest cabinet of any administration in U.S. history.

7. I prefer that my leader do his job and then rest on his laurels, not set the record for the most campaign fund-raising trips and hold the world record for receiving the most corporate campaign donations. Winning at all costs, costs all.

8. I prefer my leader not preside over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history with the highest gasoline prices and then refuse to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry is revealed. Don’t forget conservatives ... you have to drive too.

9. I prefer that my leader not break international treaties, have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission., withdraw the U.S. from the World Court of Law, refuse to allow inspectors access to U.S. “prisoners of war” detainees and thereby refuse to abide by the Geneva Convention and refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election). I like my leader to be a world leader.

10. I prefer that my leader not set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period and after taking off the entire month of August, preside over the worst security failure in U.S. history then garner the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks but less than a year later make the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.

11. I prefer that my leader not order the first unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and military occupation of a sovereign nation in U.S. history, against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens, and the world community.

12. I prefer that my leaders not cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families-in-wartime.

13. I would prefer that my leaders not support development of a nuclear “Tactical Bunker Buster,” a Weapon of Mass Destruction. I am shocked by shock and awe, especially when innocent bystanders are also speedily disposed of.

14. I would also like for any leader of mine to have brought Osama bin Laden to justice by now.

My criteria for leadership just isn’t satisfied by “conservative” leadership. I would be happy to have remained independent, but by your campaign phone call you have polarized me into a corner and forced me to call myself a “liberal,” even though it is I who am the conservative. In America now, black is white and white is black.

As you can see from above, the policies of this administration have been anything but “conservative.” They have been downright self-serving and flighty but, unfortunately, no one who supports these policies is willing as yet to own up to being a “flightie.” But in the interests of having a scheme of correct current labeling, I am actually a conservative liberal and your party is the party of liberal, flighty conservatives: free-wheeling and free-spending. I would never have even thought about this if your campaigners had not forced me to wear the “LIBERAL” mantra by not immediately rejecting the candidacy of Heath Shuler.

I don’t like wearing a mantra that doesn’t fit me. I might have considered your candidacy based on your record alone, not that of your party, but Rove-lovers have made it clear to me that “you are either for us or agin us.” So naturally I will vote for Shuler. Who wants to be called a “Flighty Conservative.” “Flighty” is such a nasty word ... right up there with “liberal.”

(Margene Roper is from Whittier)

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