The View From 1776
Friday, July 17, 2009
Walter Cronkite: Quintessential Liberal-Progressive
Mr. Cronkite, the influential and well-liked anchorman of “CBS Evening News” from 1962 to 1981, died today at age 92.
However nice a person he may have been, Walter Cronkite was, more importantly, a model voice for liberal-progressives’ brand of socialism. His lack of understanding about the nature of the Constitution and about the founding ethos of the United States allowed him to warp the minds of millions of Americans with the historicism that characterizes liberal-progressivism.
In a syndicated opinion column dated August 10, 2003, (Siding with the powerless: Ideas from 60 years in journalism) Mr. Cronkite wrote:
We [journalists] reached our intellectual adulthood with daily close-ups of the inequality in a nation that was founded on the commitment to equality for all. So we are inclined to side with the powerless rather than the powerful. If that is what makes us liberals so be it, just as long as . . . we adhere to the first ideals of good journalism.
This is blatant misrepresentation. Neither Mr. Cronkite, nor anyone, can present a single fact to support the contention that ours was a nation that was founded on the commitment to equality for all. It’s true that the colonists carried on the English tradition that everyone is equal under the law, that ours was to be a government of laws, not men.
But the equality that Mr. Cronkite and his liberal-progressive confreres took for granted is the opposite: an economic equality compelled by government tyranny.
Mr. Cronkite’s assertion can be chalked up either to ignorance of the circumstances leading to the War of Independence, or to intentional manipulation of public opinion. Neither is a worthy thing.
Anyone consulting the most influential documents leading up to the Declaration of Independence, such as the letters of Samuel Adams to members of the committees of correspondence in all the other colonies, will see that the rights of private property were the most important single unifying element among the colonial representatives at the Continental Congress. At the initial meeting of the Continental Congress, Adams was the most famous man present, because he had set the tone for the whole debate.
You will find that Samuel Adams repeatedly cited John Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government, in which the justification for ousting James II was the natural law doctrine that citizens had brought into political society inalienable rights to life, liberty, and private property. Of these, noted Locke, by far the most important was the right to protection of property against the arbitrary seizure or taxation by the crown. Locke contended that James II, by infringing property rights via confiscation and imprisonment, had broken the social compact and forfeited his right to rule.
Samuel Adams, in several letters, quotes Locke extensively with regard to property rights and says that those views are precisely the case for the colonists against George III and Parliament.
This is also a key element in the case stated by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. Our whole justification for breaking with England was preservation of natural law rights. That is the reason for the Declaration’s reference to the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.
Mr. Cronkite doubtless believed that his liberal-progressivism really helps the less fortunate. But even Mr. Cronkite must have tumbled to the unmitigated disaster resulting from LBJ’s Great Society and Jimmy Carter’s double-digit inflation that wiped out more than half the value of people’s life savings.
What Mr. Cronkite and his fellow mainstream media liberal-progressive-socialists advocated is no less than the doctrine underlying Lenin’s Soviet Union, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s National Socialist Germany.