A QUESTION OF LOYALTY
By Ernest Partridge
Co-Editor, "The Crisis Papers."
October 4, 2004
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
is for good men to do nothing.
Anon. (Attributed to Edmund Burke)
Senator Lincoln Chafee, Republican from Rhode Island, has decided not to
vote for George Bush in November.
“I’ll vote Republican,” [Chafee] said, explaining that he
would choose a write-in candidate, perhaps George Bush the elder, as a
symbolic act of protest. Asked if he wanted Senator John Kerry to be
president, Mr. Chafee shook his head sadly, as if to say he could not
entertain the question. “I’ve been disloyal enough,” he said. (New
York Times, October 4, 2004).
With all due respect for Senator Chafee, and that respect is
genuine, I submit that he has not been loyal enough.
It all depends upon the what the Senator regards as the supreme object of
his loyalty. To Chafee, it is apparently the Republican party.
But that party is not the entity to which he swore allegiance when he took
his oath of office. At that time he, and all his Senate and House
colleagues, swore allegiance to the United States of America and its
Constitution. And that allegiance requires much more of Lincoln Chafee and
others who claim loyalty to the Republican party.
For today, institutions and moral principles cherished throughout our
history and held in common today by a majority of Americans -- Democrats,
Republicans and Independents -- are being threatened, not by a foreign
invader, but by a radical faction that has seized control of our government
and our media. The shared prosperity of the American people is being undone
by a few greedy plutocrats who now effectively control the Republican party.
These individuals have caused the honor and reputation of the American
Republic in the world community to sink to an all-time low.
We are at a crossroad in history, one road leads to disaster and the other
to restoration and renewal. Neither road is in any way defined by the
traditional political differences between Republicans and Democrats.
We must now look down that dreadful road, before we travel on. For there we
Federal bankruptcy, the end of public services including
Social Security and Medicare, and an impoverishment of the public schools.
With the decline of our educational institutions, an end
of American leadership in science and technology – both the well-springs
of prosperity in an industrial economy.
International isolation, as the United States continues to
become an international outlaw, initiating wars at times of its choosing,
and violating treaties at its convenience.
A loss of media independence and diversity – “the fourth
estate,” recognized by our founders as indispensable to a free society.
A loss of civil liberties and the Constitutional
guarantees of free press, speech, assembly and religion. A violation of
the rights of fair trial, access to counsel, habeas corpus.
An endless “war on terrorism” legitimizing the erosion of
these liberties and the abrogation of the Bill of Rights, and furthermore
requiring a permanent draft.
Class warfare, as national wealth flows from the producers
of that wealth to the very few who own and control the wealth.
The privatization of the technology and tallying of voting
– in effect, an end of the citizen franchise and the “consent of the
Environmental devastation and economic collapse, as
petroleum reserves are exhausted with no national provision made for
transition to a post-petroleum energy source. (See my
“The Oil Trap?").
This is our future unless, together and regardless of our
habitual party preferences, we unite and throw out of national office, those
individuals who, due to dogmatism, ignorance or the myopia of greed, fail to
recognize or feel obliged to lead us away from these perils.
The challenge transcends party. The Republican Party of Lincoln Chafee’s
father, Senator John Chafee, is no more. It has been succeeded by a gang of
theocrats, oligarchs, and empire-builders who retain, from the Republican
Party of old, little more than the name “Republican.” (See my
“Letter to a Republican Friend”).
The Republican Party of Dwight Eisenhower, Earl Warren and Nelson
Rockefeller stood for fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets, limited
government, opportunity for small business entrepreneurs, citizen autonomy,
defense of the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and international law
and order. These principles have been abandoned in practice by the
Republican part of today.
Nonetheless, with the entire political spectrum having shifted sharply to
the right, there now exists a political organization that upholds and
defends these principles of moderate republicanism. It is called the
So what motivates a moderate Republican or an authentic conservative to vote
for George Bush and Dick Cheney? What, other than habit and the names,
"Republican" and "conservative."
In a generation, the words "Republican" and "conservative" ("liberal" too,
for that matter), once a guide to intelligent political discourse, have
become weapons in the hands of greedy and power-hungry opportunists – a
“Newspeak” devised by PR wizards who have treated George Orwell’s 1984, not
as a warning but as a guidebook.
Thus we are now on a precipice of history, and if we are to draw back and
escape catastrophe, Americans of all religious creeds and political
persuasions must pause, contemplate the morally legitimate objects of their
loyalty, and then follow the demands of that loyalty as they vote to protect
their Constitution, preserve the rights and liberties of all citizens,
demand a just distribution of the nation’s wealth, and restore the honor of
their country among the community of nations.
There are a few key individuals who could, by themselves, take a principled
stand and favorably change the course of history. Colin Powell and John
McCain come to mind. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that they will do
And so it is up to the rest of us to do so – powerless as individuals, but
together an irresistible force.
Several significant organizations and individuals have done so already.
And many more, too numerous to mention.
And yet, the election contest remains close. If there is to be a favorable
outcome, the current of dissent and opposition must become a flood.
Daniel Ellsberg, John Dean, Sibel Edmonds, Colleen Rowley, Karen Kwiatkowski
and other “whistleblowers” have demanded that still more patriots, within
and outside of the government, who are in possession of crucial information,
come forth and expose the corruption and malfeasance of this most secretive
It is also past time for a few prominent journalists to rip open the media
curtain, and let the light of truth at last shine forth. Many media
celebrities have become independently wealthy through their careers. Now it
is payback time. Where are the I. F. Stones, Ed Murrows and Walter Cronkites
of our age? Will they be heard in the month that remains?
The time is short. But with the example of Lincoln Chafee, and other
newly-dissenting Republicans such as Chuck Hagel, Richard Lugar, Doug
Bereuter, and former Republicans such as Arianna Huffington, John Dean, Jim
Jeffords and Kevin Phillips, the demands of duty and loyalty become ever
In a mere month, the current of dissent and defection must become a flood,
if the usurpers of our liberties, the thieves of our national treasure, and
the despoilers of our national honor are to be swept from their ill-gotten
For after November 2, it will be too late, for then we may all be embarked
upon the road to disaster from which there will be no return in our
lifetimes -- if ever.
Printing, posting and distribution of this article is
provided author and source (www.crisispapers.org)
Copyright 2004, by Ernest Partridge
Ernest Partridge's Internet Publications
Conscience of a Progressive:
Partridge's Scholarly Publications. (The Online Gadfly)
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field
of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at
the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He
publishes the website, "The Online
Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website,
"The Crisis Papers".