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With Sincere Regrets: An Open Letter to Our Conservative Leadership

October 5, 2005
By Jim Chandler

In the 1994 Congressional elections, dubbed the "Year of the Angry White Man," Republicans took majority control of both houses of Congress. In 2000, they took control of the White House.

This influx of extremely organized and well-funded political operatives was the culmination of years of planning, in a movement widely known as neo-conservatism. It quickly took our government, our politics, and our national discourse on a sharp tack to the right. While a divisive debate rages over the effectiveness of this new leadership, few would disagree that our political process has become bitter, loud and uncivil.

This new "leadership" has co-opted ideals, concepts and institutions that many of us believe belong to all Americans, not just conservatives. So with all due respect, and with sincerest regrets, we'd like to take them back for all Americans to share.

We're sorry, but you cannot have God.

He belongs to all of us, throughout the world, who choose to believe. He is not unique to Americans. He has not singled out the U.S.A. for special blessing. He does not regard American citizens to be more worthy than the citizens of any other country, and He does not regard our form of government to be superior.

There are many of us true Christians who believe that He would not bless violent aggression, regardless of the rationale. There are many of us who don't need God's name in our national songs, on our currency or in the halls of our government buildings, in order to affirm our faith, and we don't believe He cares too much about that either.

We do not believe our President when he claims to receive direction from God. God has no political ideology. Many of us believe that He will not look kindly on those who use His name for that purpose.

We're sorry, but you can't have the American Flag.

It is not a conservative icon. It represents all Americans. We would die for our flag tomorrow, because we love our country, and will fight to protect it for our children.

You are no more patriotic than the rest of us. Most of you avoided putting your lives on the line for your country, yet you have the gall to question the patriotism of others who have bravely done so, simply because they disagree with you. You hide behind the American flag, and use patriotism as a club to beat back those who disagree with you.

The ability to disagree, even publicly, is what defines our democracy. We won't let you take that away from us, even as you attempt to force it on the rest of the world.

We're sorry, but you can't have the Constitution.

It isn't an ideological document, and it isn't your place to "protect it." It is written for "We, the People of the United States." The human experience is far too complex for words, and therefore the document is imperfect. It is open to interpretation. It is a living document.

Our Founding Fathers had the foresight to recognize this, and constructed our government in such a way as to allow for this process, while protecting the American people from any single person or party's opinion. That's the way it was intended to work. Let it be.

We're sorry, but you can't own Family Values.

It is not a commodity. Humanity is far too complex to conform to your simplistic, black-and-white views on values. Our actual value system evolved over hundreds of years, and cannot be summarized on a bumper sticker.

Your family is no more or no less moral than any other. Most of you who shout about values have unseemly skeletons in your own closets. You tend to your own family, and allow us to tend to ours. In the end, God will judge our values.

We're sorry, but you can't have September 11, 2001.

It was a horrific event that has become part of the fabric that defines us all as Americans. The roots of this unspeakable act of terrorism are deep and complex, and will require an equally complex solution. It doesn't fit on a lapel pin.

You pretend to speak for the families of the victims, yet you use their tragedy to further your ideological agenda. You are no better than the looters in New Orleans whom you love to deride, even as you continue to loot your political goods from the true victims of 9-11, years after the disaster.

You squandered the good will and sympathy of an entire planet, and you've done precious little, these past four years, to make us safer. You don't deserve to own this.

We're sorry, but you don't own Fiscal Responsibility.

You took over a respectable balance sheet when you came to Washington, and you've ruined it. You've shown that you can't manage our national finances, as we sink further and further into debt on your watch.

You are mortgaging the future of our children to Japan, China and a host of other global lenders that have grown to despise us under your leadership. We don't believe that "spend and spend" is more responsible than "tax and spend." Your "tax cuts" favor the rich, and they net you personal and political gain. Most of us don't have the letters "CEO" next to our name, and your tax cuts do nothing for us. Your "ownership society" is sounding more and more like an exclusive club.

You tell us you'll pay the $200B tab for rebuilding New Orleans by cutting the waste out of the federal budget. You cite liberal-sounding "entitlement programs." Sorry, but you've had control of the checkbook for 11 years now. If you still have $200B of waste in the budget, you are the problem.

We're sorry, but you can't own the concept of Limited Government.

As if any of us would prefer "unlimited government." You pretend to stand for smaller federal government, even as you spend us into record debt. You pretend to stand for state's rights, even as you meddle in state's affairs. You showed your true colors in the Terri Schiavo fiasco, and we're not buying it any more. We know now that when you say "limited government," you really mean "getting your way."

We're sorry, but you can't have the media.

You shout about "liberal bias" while you construct the most biased media machine in history - substituting propaganda for journalism; innuendo for facts; shouting for intelligent discourse. You know nothing about the true role of media, and you don't care to participate because you can't control it.

Your vision for this important component of democracy scares people of intelligence. Under your concept of "media," true democracy would die. We want our children to have access to the truth, and we want professional journalists working to get it for them, free from corporate and ideological influences. We won't let you take over or shut down the mainstream media, and we won't let you brainwash our children with your propaganda machine.

We're sorry, but you can't have our Troops.

Granted, the Commander in Chief directs the military. But many of us believe the "Commander" did not perform due diligence, and circumvented important checks and balances in the rush to deploy our troops to Iraq. Don't forget that the U.S. Military represents all Americans, and not just conservatives.

If we don't support your actions, it doesn't mean we don't support our troops. We believe you are putting them at risk for an unclear, unworthy and continually changing cause. Some of them, and their families, are paying the ultimate price for your mistakes. Don't imply that because we want to bring them home, we don't support them.

We're sorry, but you don't own our National Security.

Stop implying that the "forces of evil" would overtake America under anyone else's leadership. Frankly, you don't seem to be doing such a great job of protecting us, and many of us feel less safe under your watch. We're not going to duck and run if you aren't in charge. America's strength and resolve is unwavering, and that has nothing to do with you. Stop scaring Americans stupid.

Finally, we're sorry, but you can't have the national profile.

America is a diverse nation, made up of people from every country, every race, religion, sexual orientation and ideology. Your simplistic vision of a uniform set of values implies a society of white Christians. Many of our fathers fought overseas against such a vision. Much blood has been shed on our own soil, against such a vision.

We rejoice in the diverse heritage that makes Americans so unique. You will never, ever take that away.

The author is an independent who is increasingly fed up with the direction the current conservative leadership and their huge propaganda machine is taking this country.

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