Gop Shift Makes Life In Middle A Difficult Road

The first year or two, the Republican Revolution seemed to be my fight, too.

As with millions dismayed by what they see as the disintegration of America, I was cheered by the marching orders of the Contract With America. They set forth:

A return to traditional values.

An end to dehumanizing welfare excesses.

An emphasis on work and individual accountability.

Less government.

Lower taxes for workers.

Renewal of the middle class.

A better shake for small business.

Etc, etc.

But as the battle strategy unfolded, the army under Newt Gingrich and the GOP’s young turks took an unheralded sharp turn to the right. And, lo, the revolution ended up in the lap of big corporations, Wall Street, the privileged and the powerful.

I didn’t sign on to fight for the rich. Nor, I am confident, did millions of other early believers in the revolution. So where does this leave us?

Well, for my part, feeling used and betrayed.

Meantime, on the conservative right, there are those who regard the change in attitude of this column toward the revolution as the act of a turncoat.

While on the liberal left, others see the promise of a possible alliance.

Forget it.

Big-government; big welfare; big education; a justice system that patty-cakes with molesters, murderers, rapists and corporate criminals; value-neutral social engineering - all still reek.

I want no truck with causes that spring from differences in race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. I leave these issues to others.

As for requiring the able-bodied to do their share - you bet. But that includes the idle rich.

In no way has my thinking changed on these issues.

But to make necessary course corrections in the system, to redress the errors of the past and present, it simply is unnecessary to brutalize the most unfortunate, underprivileged, and incapacitated of America’s citizens. Just as unconscionable are efforts to make the biggest beneficiaries of revolution those with the least need - big corporations and the rich.

So, this is where the revolution has gone wrong. And it is where the Gingrich army and I part company.

Thus I find myself in somewhat surprising company these days. Not because the thrust of this column has changed that much - but because the ground on socio-economic issues has shifted far to the right.

Now, I sense a definite shift back the other way.

Meantime, right and left, the most zealous conservatives and flaming liberals question: Whose side is this column on anyway? The answer is - I am happy to report - neither.

The answer makes neither side happy.

Thankfully, there are those who approve.

“My wife and I moved to Spokane in 1956,” writes William K. Norwood, dental surgeon. “My recollection of your reporting at the time (actually, I arrived here in 1962) is that the tenor of your columns was strictly pro business.

“Whether your perspective has changed, or my interpretation has undergone a metamorphosis, I cannot say. However, I perceive a genuine social conscience with which I am totally in accord.

“I particularly enjoyed and agreed wholeheartedly with your column yesterday - Sunday, Nov. 19. Many thanks for presenting life in business as it really is.”

That column unmasked the hypocrisy of the shrill demands by politicians for major sacrifices from everyone - except themselves.

Wells J. Longshore of Spokane, a “college buddy” of presidential Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, supplied the White House a copy of the column.

C. H. Swinburne Jr. of Spokane sent a clipping to Bob Dole.

And Paul DePalma of Spokane wrote, “You are clearly taking a risk when you critique this or that corporate practice. I particularly appreciate your thoughtful support of business while at the same time criticizing its excesses.”

A columnist knows you can’t please both sides. But a column that pleases neither - that’s accomplishment.

, DataTimes MEMO: Associate Editor Frank Bartel’s column appears on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

Associate Editor Frank Bartel’s column appears on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

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