Conscience of a conservative

I believe my political awakening began in 1964.

Americans were knee deep in a horrific war in Vietnam. Those memories are all too lasting for folks in my generation: in past articles, I have written about seeing several of my high school classmates killed or maimed on that country’s soil.

Also in 1964, Sen. Barry Goldwater, R- Arizona decided to run against the incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson, D-Texas. Sen. Goldwater wrote a book entitled “The Conscience of a Conservative,” required reading in one of my classes at Ball State University, where I was a second-year undergraduate student.

Prior to this time I’d really had no interest in politics. My professor was extremely liberal: he ridiculed Goldwater.

The senator’s wife was from Muncie. Our professor wanted us to picket an event that the senator was going to attend. I thought that this was an odd request.

I was raised in a middle-class home, where my dad was a staunch Democrat. But even then, I could see the beginnings of liberalism creeping into our universities.

Incidentally, Goldwater was soundly defeated by L.B.J. What does that have to do with 2017? The answer is plenty.

We are now faced with a new group of youths. They are called millennials. We also are faced with more complex situations that we were in 1964. Or are we?

I submit that the problems of 1964 were as complex as today’s problems are. The difference is, because of the Internet, social media, and a 24-hour news cycle we communicate much differently.

I called this column “Conscience of a Conservative.” Perhaps I should have entitled it “A Time for Awakening.” I think our society has lost the conscience it used to have in 1964.

Do we have corruption in our government? I submit that we do. But, would a dictator, benevolent or otherwise, solve the problem? I submit that it would not.

Putting the power of the United States into one man’s hands would be a grave mistake. When our founding fathers created this great experience, called democracy, they were smart enough to establish three branches of government: the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judiciary. Together our democracy has a set of checks and balances. We in America have been blessed by many freedoms.

We have the right to disagree with our government. We have the right to elect our officials to govern us. One must ask this question. If we had a “Benevolent Dictator,” would we have this freedom? I don’t think we would.

Would the 1960’s have been different, if Sen. Goldwater had won? Would we have less bureaucracy, and corruption? I rather doubt it.

C.O. Montgomery of New Palestine is a former teacher and Sugar Creek Township trustee.
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