Saturday, April 08, 2006

George Allen, You Are No Thomas Jefferson

Dear Senator Allen (R-Virginia),

I read in the paper this morning that in announcing your bid for reelection you described yourself as “a common sense Jeffersonian Conservative.” Since you earned both your History and Law degrees at Jefferson’s own University of Virginia, I'm confident you are well-aware that Jefferson was not a conservative and that you are no Jeffersonian. Perhaps you’re hoping the vast majority of Virginians merely admires Jefferson in the abstract and lacks the critical-thinking skills needed to detect the paradox in describing yourself as Jeffersonian or Jefferson as conservative. Such a hope would not surprise me given your efforts to destroy public education in Virginia during your six years as Governor, but as a Social Studies teacher I can assure you that a host of good teachers continues to produce citizens who can think for themselves and who know that Jefferson’s party was not the party of wealth and privilege.

Thomas Jefferson championed civil liberties and valued those civil liberties over security. He was a staunch advocate of the religious freedom guaranteed by our separation of church and state. Jefferson’s faith in our republic rested squarely on the ability of citizens to criticize their government in speech or in print. He was a steadfast proponent of public education and believed that quality education was the cure for most of society’s ills. As a student of the Enlightenment, Jefferson openly embraced change and hoped that each generation would improve the political system he helped establish. In short, Thomas Jefferson was the antithesis of what you and today’s Republican Party stand for.

Please refrain from insulting him -- and us -- by implying that your beliefs are in any way similar to his.

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