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Jewish World Review June 30, 1999/ 16 Tamuz 5759

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Gore: a soda in every fountain -- I ATTENDED A SCHOOL ASSEMBLY in first grade to hear the campaign speeches of the two candidates for Student Council President, Don Evits and Pam Beard. Both were venerable sixth-graders, but what distinguished one from the other were Pam's promises.

If elected, she said, she would put Coke in the drinking fountains in place of water. I believe that she intended for us student voters to rely on her promise. As it turns out, I didn't believe she could deliver on her promise, but I must admit that even if I had believed her I doubt that I would have voted for her. The fact was that I was a little male chauvinist and was not about to vote for a girl. To my minor disappointment, she won.

Al Gore's campaign so far has reminded me somewhat of Pam Beard's. Though he has not promised soda in every fountain, he has promised to enlist the considerable power of the federal government in virtually every facet of society.

In Detroit in May, he called for reviving urban centers and reducing traffic congestion. You heard me: Gore's federal government is going to micromanage suburban traffic.

In keeping with his declared war against the internal combustion engine, he also called for shifting spending from highways to mass transit. In addition, Gore talked about "livability" as an issue: Voters are "increasingly stressed about traffic, congestion and destruction of natural resources (and) are looking for answers from government." I'm not sure which clause in the Constitution authorizes "livability" legislation or in which Federalist Paper this novel concept was first advocated by Hamilton, Madison or Jay. But if we can't find it, Gore will doubtlessly find some Ivy League law professors who will.

Gore says he "has a compelling vision of where we want to go as a nation, how we can get there and how we can live better lives when we arrive." I'm sure he does, and that's what worries me.

In his campaign kickoff speech in Nebraska, Gore got even more specific with his big-government proposals. He outlined a series of policy initiatives. Concerning education, he said he would push for making preschool universally available, reduce class sizes in all grades through high school and encourage stronger educational standards and accountability.

On the social front, he promised to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act, increase access to after-school programs, expand the Clinton program that has sought to subsidize the hiring of 100,000 police officers, toughen gun- control laws and increase partnerships between government and faith-based charities to deliver social services.

On economic policy, he pledged to negotiate labor and environmental protections in free-trade agreements, to raise the minimum wage and to oppose any effort to privatize Social Security. (Note: The only legislation he promises to oppose is that which would reduce the role of the federal government -- by partially privatizing social security).

Last week, Gore further escalated his commitment to government largesse by pushing for legislation against hate crimes and to end discrimination because of sexual preference in the workplace.

Upon reflection, it is difficult to remember a president, or presidential candidate, who promised to involve government in as many areas of our lives as Gore already has in this early phase of the campaign. That is, except for any number of Bill Clinton's State of the Union addresses.

No matter who the Republican nominee ends up being, voters are going to have a clear choice if the Democrats nominate Al Gore. There is apparently no activity Gore feels is inappropriate for governmental intervention.

During the debates on whether the Bill of Rights should be added to the Constitution, Noah Webster voiced his strong opposition, reasoning that it would be ludicrous to affirmatively set out rights that already inhered in the people. Showing utter contempt for the idea of spelling out every little "right," he sarcastically quipped, "Why not include a provision that everybody shall, in good weather, hunt on his own land and catch fish in rivers that are public property and that Congress shall never restrain any inhabitant of America from eating and drinking, at seasonable times, or prevent his lying on his left side, in a long winter's night, or even on his back, when he is fatigued by lying on his right."

I wonder what Noah Webster (or any of the other Framers) would think of Al Gore's concept of government today. I wonder what words he might find in his little book to describe him.

JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


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