and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
July #1

Some things still worth fighting for
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, July 3, 2008

"Liberty is their destination.
Born first thing in the morning, one day on
The fourth of July 1776."

Poet Chris Lane

"He's a Yankee Doodle Dandy,
a Yankee Doodle do or die.
A real live nephew of his uncle Sam,
born on the 4th of July."

From the 1941 musical, "Babes on Broadway"

"I was born on the fourth of July
No one more loyal than I
When my country said so, I was ready to go,
And I wish I'd been left there to die..."

From the Tom Paxton song about a paralyzed Vietnam War veteran

"John McCain. When you say that you want to stay in Iraq for 100 years, are you counting on Alex? Because you can't have him."

Baby Alex's mother in ad

Two days later, and my son Lance would have been born on the 4th of July, 1964. Setting aside the usual cheapness of the shot, I can relate to all the above.

During the 1960s, my concern was that Red China now had "the bomb." I was afraid the United States would be fighting China with her huge advantage in numbers for conventional war, while we no longer had the advantage in nuclear war.

Would China be as deterred by the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) strategy as Russia was? Would Lance be forced to grow up in a mindless Chinese communist "cultural revolution?" Mao Tse-tung, you can't have him!

I'd have said when he was 4: "You can't have him either, Lyndon Johnson, with your military draft and undeclared war that you aren't fighting to win. Unless," I would have added, "he chooses to go, like his father" a professional military man who was serving on a Navy carrier that year.

I loved the Navy, was proud of my husband's voluntary service; but had my son been of draft age, I would have been marching in the streets with college students against Lyndon Johnson's mismanaged war.

Of course, I'd have had this opportunity to stand up to the government because of all the baby boys who grew up to fight in World War II, who didn't want their baby boys and girls like me to live under Nazi rule.

I don't know if the war in Iraq, specifically, is going to keep my grandchildren from living in a radical Muslim world; but whether in Iraq or elsewhere, our country has to take on its enemies and win. If John McCain is more likely than his opponent to protect the freedoms of little Alex and my Aidan and Mariah he'll have my vote in November.

I was lucky. Lance came of age between wars, and I never had to go through what the mothers of American warriors have gone through since the first shot fired at Lexington and are still going through today. He lives in a free America, thanks to so many giant sacrifices.

He and I enjoy arguing. Because my daughter-in-law does not, we debate on vacation drives to the airport when she is not along.

But things have changed since the twins turned 7. This year, in the middle of a lively discussion, a small voice drifted up from the back seat: "Dad, why are you and Gram yelling?" And the other small voice: "Daddy, you're not supposed to use that word (about Dick Cheney)."

Hey, get used to it, kids; the world is a confrontational place. But actually, your father and I both take more adversarial positions when we argue than we actually have, just from habit which seems to be partly based on partisanship that began when he decided to vote Democrat while I continued to vote Republican. And we are not the only ones doing a knee-jerk partisan thing, are we?

When we both calm down, we find we agree somewhere in the middle of most issues. With the presidential campaign from hell scheduled for this fall, what if we all ignored what the parties tell us is important, and think instead about what really concerns us?

On the subject of war: Leaving politics out of it, don't we all want freedom for ourselves and our descendants? Most Americans recognize that this freedom must sometimes be fought for, at great cost to the patriot warriors and their families. But some wars are more clearly defensive and essential than others. Except when bombs are raining down on Pearl Harbor, patriotic citizens can disagree on U.S. involvement.

While it seems to be mostly liberal Democrats who protest wars, it was Republican President Dwight Eisenhower who warned about "the military-industrial complex." If we all started calling ourselves independents, maybe we could have an intelligent discussion about the "war on terror" during the fall campaign instead of a partisan "foolfest" led by and its "Armageddon is Us" equivalent on the right.

As we celebrate Independence Day, this is a good week to decide to be united in support of defensive wars that have liberty as their destination because anything other than liberty must be unthinkable to us all.

But we might also consider that our government may not necessarily have our freedom as its first priority either, anymore.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.