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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Jimmy Carter Made Me a Republican

When I was growing up, my single divorced mother of two then three, who worshipped at the altar of liberalism taught me that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the greatest POTUS ever.  EVER.  Not Lincoln.  Not Washington, the two names I had offered in my 10 year old naivete.  Roosevelt, to be distinguished from his cousin, who was, shudder, a Republican.  In the 60's when it was on the cutting edge she would drive me to places where I could participate in demonstrations against nuclear weapons, for integration and for civil rights.  I picketed Woolworths ( an out of business 5 and 10 cent store) because they had segregated lunch counters in the south.  So I was, if not a red diaper baby, at least a pink diaper baby.  So how did I become a Republican?  Jimmy Carter made me one.  In retrospect I think it was one of his greatest accomplishments.

In 1977, I achieved what seemed like a great dream for a liberal like me, I became an attorney for the EEOC and, in 1979, managed to snag a job in Washington D. C.  Woohoo.  Not only an attorney for truth justice and righteousness, but one who was going to be paid for it.  It was great.  OMG as they say today.  What an education in government.  It is one thing to read about government waste.  It is quite another to be part of it.  When I worked at the EEOC they had one of the worst attendance records of any agency in the government.  I mean, people literally failed to come to work a good deal of the time and when they did they certainly didn't intend to waste their time actually working.  No, not everyone.  There were still a large number of employees who were dedicated and concerned.  But there were also a large number of lazy people who didn't care and didn't show up.  And everything was about race.  I won't go on.  I still remember the expressions of jubilation when some of my fellow employees heard that President Reagan had been shot and their fervent hopes that he would die.  It was chilling.

Then the Reagan appointees began to show up at the EEOC and one of them hired me to be his attorney adviser.  One day when we were talking, he said to me, Susan, its not a religion.  That was the first time I realized that I had been treating politics as a religion, a creed that I was somehow morally obligated to be loyal to, instead of a practical worldly affiliation.  He went on, "you should be loyal to the political party that gives you the most of what you want."  No political party will give you all of what you want, but, for the sake of practicality, you pick the one who will give you the most.  It can be a complicated calculation, but it is a guiding star. I wanted to reward hard work, preserve freedom, keep more of my money, reduce government interference in my life.  I learned from that conversation that I am a Republican at heart so I became a Republican in registration as well.  What I saw of Washington up close was enough to make me understand that bureaucrats are, for the most part, completely out of touch with people who hold productive jobs and work for a living.  They should never be allowed to make decisions for other people because they will almost always be not only wrong but destructive.

Most bureaucrats are liberals.  That is true partly because they tend to be people who don't like the competitive ethic of the private sector.  They also tend to be people who don't like to have to do what nearly every private business has to do: cater to the customer.  That's why they should be allowed to run your lives.

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