Walter Mondale tells a story about FDR’s funeral that sharpens our understanding of what it means to be a liberal:
In the spring of 1945, President Roosevelt’s body was being taken from Georgia to Washington on a train. Thousands of Americans cherished the President’s legacy with expressions of respect and mourning as they stood in memoriam near the train tracks and in stations along the way.
Former Vice-president Mondale tells Diane that one such man was asked if he had known the deceased President. The man replied that no, he did not know Mr. Roosevelt, but, the man volunteered: “He knew me.”
A characteristic of great leadership is surely that those who are governed feel a respectful affection along with political and patriotic identification with the leader. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had served Americans in the oval office for twelve years, through a long economic depression and a world war. Americans’ love and fond recall of him were, no doubt, deeply heartfelt on a national magnitude, most acutely on that mournful day in 1945.
Mr. Mondale mentioned the mourner’s response to FDR’s last solemn journey to our capital city. Then he added an eloquent statement that Americans need to know that their President is looking out for them, and holding their best interests at the forefront of his mind, his actions and policies.
Therein, we catch a glimpse of the difference between a liberal and a conservative. Conservatives don’t generally have that need,
or they do not cultivate it, to view the President as some benevolent provider; they would rather do things on their own without the government’s meddling, thank you.
Most conservatives these days will tell you that the President’s job is to keep the government out of the way, so that enterprising, self-sufficient folks can exercise their freedoms without regulatory interference. It’s not the President’s job–not his government’s job either– to give us the warm fuzzies or make sure we are all well cared for. We have dads for that, and God, thank you very much.
So there you have the main difference between conservatives and liberals, aka Democrats and Republicans.
Nevertheless, I must disclose that this Republican would more likely be moved to tears at Mr. Roosevelt’s immense contribution toward our national well-being, than, say, anything that Mr. Reagan did.
Except when he told Mr. Gorbachev to tear down that wall.
That tearing down the wall thing really tears me up.