Conservatives are people who are addicted to fear. They fear for the “sanctity” of marriage. They fear what else homosexuals might be planning to discomfit them and their way of life. They fear that liberals are coming to take away their guns. They fear their children will grow up hating their values. They fear that poor people will vote in large numbers to bump them out of office. They fear America will be inundated by immigrants from Third World countries. They fear for the Purity of Essence of their Precious Bodily Fluids.
I take my cue from a great Republican President by the name of Calvin Coolidge. At one point, he said, “If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you.” I often think of that saying when I am twisting and turning in bed at night because I fear that something will happen.
If you should ever find yourself in Plymouth, Vermont, as I did on one day in 2005. You should visit the Coolidge homestead, which is run by the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation. You will find the former President buried in the local cemetery without an ostentatious monument slathered with grandiose sentiments. You will see the humble home in which he was born and the village where he grew to maturity. And finally, you will see a Republican who could be admired by future generations—as the present crop of Republicans will most certainly not be.
A subsequent President, FDR, told us during his first inaugural address that we had nothing to fear but fear itself:
So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.
Is the United States going to be paralyzed by the fear of elderly white people who think they are the last generation that supports the values that made this country great? Or will change continue to take place—as it always has and always will—leading to a world that is different, better in some ways and worse in others?