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Radicals and politics

The new wreckers

By John Burtis
Monday, January 9, 2006

Josef Stalin had a pet term for many of those he consigned to the Gulag for ten or twenty-year terms--wreckers. Individuals convicted of this particular crime were said to have committed industrial sabotage on a massive scale, which was then used as one of the reasons reason why a particular factory or industry failed to make their quota in a certain state plan.

Having been involved with many clubs in high school, I first ran into the new wreckers when I arrived at the large New England college I chose to attend in 1968 and where I became active in student government.

Being used to a sense of decorum and steeped in Robert's Rules of Order, I was quickly made aware of radical tactics and how they were employed to insure that a relatively small vocal minority came to rule a larger, procedure based majority. Interestingly enough, the parallel was much like the relationship of the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks in Russia's first Provisional Government, without the violence, of course.

Whenever a motion, which the radicals found distasteful or unsatisfactory, was to be voted on, the acting out and the appalling behavior of militants began. The provocateurs would yell, scream, walk out, overturn furniture, disrupt the activities of our governing body and eventually bring them to a halt. And of course, all too often, fearing both the approbation of the administration for our failure to govern and the collapse of the governmental process for which we had been elected, we either modified the motion to the radicals' liking or tossed it out. Thus we came to be ruled by the radicals, who relished their ability to control the proceedings, just as has happened to the Congress of the United States. Our process was successfully wrecked, as has that of our Federal legislative body. Our only personal choice was to continue in the intimidating conditions or to quit. All too many of us voted with our feet.

The notion of wrecking is interesting, especially in America, where freedom is still manifold and opportunities abound. But wrecking, insuring that the smaller bloc gets its way at the expense of the larger regardless of the costs, was learned by a large segment of the generation which has now gained political power--the Baby Boomers--my generation.

All too often, the judicial branch, in cases called by narrow decisions, overturns the collective will of the voters and that of the legislatures of the sundry states. This means that an even smaller majority, in some cases the majority is a single person, checks the popular will of the citizenry and its elected representatives.

Liberal justices now routinely vacuum actions worldwide to buttress cases for which they have an open and personal liberal bias. Justice Kennedy had to reach overseas, far beyond our Constitution, to find countries which supported his anti-punishment views in Roper v. Simmons, which struck the down the death penalty for juveniles, no matter the heinousness of the crimes, no matter the previous Supreme Court rulings on the same matter, and regardless of the laws passed by the legislatures of the individual states. The vote was 5-4, decided by a single justice, a wrecker. Will Ghana or Haiti provide the "laws" for the liberal justices to provide the basis for future decisions?

Take the US Senate. Remember when a court appointee, if passed by the judicial committee, could be brought to the floor in an exercise of their advice and consent power as delegated by the Constitution? Now, as we all know too well, a vocal minority of noisy and destructive wreckers, can bring this entire process to a halt by filibuster, delaying almost interminably this assent process, even when an effective positive majority exists.

Thanks to the behavior of President Clinton, who broadcast the now discredited reports on the behavior of Thomas Jefferson in an effort to show commonality with his own lurid and distasteful monkeyshines, the routine wrecking of the reputations of the revered, like our founding fathers, is commonplace to justify the foibles of the liberal icons. Drag down George Washington and Ben Franklin to our level, they are bums like us, the wastrels shout in self defense.

Vince Foster wrote of his abhorrence for the politics of personal destruction. I have often thought, against the grain of the leading newspapers and magazines of note, that he spoke of the professional wrecking he saw generated from the inside of the White House he inhabited, not that manufactured from the conservative amateurs on the outside.

It is Girl Scout cookie time and visions of Thin Mints and Shortbread dance in our heads. And I recall when the Scouting was held in esteem by all parts of the community. My father was a boy scout and my mother was a girl scout, yet scouting is now under the wrecking ball for daring to maintain moral requirements in a world seemingly ruled by the licentious liberal minority.

As the ACLU attempts to drive the Scouts from military bases, from public property, from public view and to demand that gay scout leaders be ensconced in leadership positions, no thought is ever given by the media to the idea that a fresh alternative to scouting could be established with all the individuals the ACLU claims that Boy Scouts doesn't have, placed in positions of leaderships in the new. All that is lacked is the will.

But wrecking is far more fun than building, and requires far less resolve. Just ask any kid. And therein lays the problem.

John Burtis is a former Broome County, NY firefighter, a retired Santa Monica, CA, police officer. He obtained his BA in European History at Boston University and is fluent in German. He resides in NH with his wife, Betsy. John Burtis can be reached at:

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