A choice not an echo in 2008

Matthew White

In 1964, Phyllis Schlafly published A Choice Not an Echo: The inside story of how American Presidents are chosen, to defend the presidential candidacy of then Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona.

Schlafly argued passionately that the mostly liberal, eastern establishment had for years exercised too much influence on the GOP’s presidential nomination process and that it favored issues of its members’ pocketbooks above issues of principle.

It was vital, she said, that Republicans nominate a new type of candidate, someone with a principled national agenda that would be different — and better — than others who were seeking the presidency.

In essence, Schlafly defended the notion of a candidate who stood for the people against the government and its invasion into the common people’s lives. She defended the notion of ending the soft-socialism of the 1940s-era New Deal policies, and she defended the concept that Americans have a right — not a privilege — to a real choice between paths their nation could pursue.

Schlafly was right to argue for a real choice between candidates and not an echo of the same generalized policies coming from members of both parties, and we are right to demand that same type of choice today.

When Goldwater ran against President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964, Americans had a candidate before them who pledged to return economic and personal freedom to them at home and to stand up and oppose communism abroad. Their other choice, Johnson, pledged a vast expansion of the welfare state at home and so-called sensible policies abroad. (Ironically, those sensible policies included the escalation of the Vietnam War and a strategy of prolonged defeat.)

While Americans chose wrongly in 1964, at least they had different, competing visions of the future to choose between. And, I believe that Americans again have choices in front of them, both in candidates and political parties.

We have Republican candidates who offer new types of tax systems — the fair tax and the flat tax. We have Republicans who offer a privatized Social Security system that functions similar to a 401k program. And, we have Republicans who offer policies to protect and defend the traditional American values that make our nation special and unique in the world.

We also have a separate choice. Democratic candidates offer tax increases and indecision of whether or not to support drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens. We have Democrats who seek to negotiate directly and irresponsibly with anti-American dictators. And, we even have some Democrats who are prepared to abandon funding for our soldiers while they’re still on the battlefield.

This choice is a serious one and it will impact our nation for many years to come. It isn’t something to engage in lightly, or without investigation.

And so, with the primary election season looming in front of us, it is time for Americans — young and old — to examine the nature of the choices in front of them and find a candidate that best represents their values.

Matthew White is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].