Big Government, Republican Style

Susan Redden’s column in the Joplin Globe on Monday featured a look at a big-government conservative masquerading as a Democrat:

Randall Terry plans to shock Joplin area television viewers during the Super Bowl, and he’s using his presidential candidacy to do it.

The founder of Operation Rescue, Terry is a Democratic candidate for president. He plans to air anti-abortion television ads during the Super Bowl in Joplin and in other markets in Missouri, Oklahoma, Colorado and Kentucky.

First of all, if you buy the suggestion that Randall Terry is a Democrat, then Newt Gingrich has a Marriage Is Forever book he’d like to sell you. Terry is only using the Democratic Party name in order to force local stations to sell him air time under a federal statute that prevents stations from rejecting ads based on their content. That’s quite a feat of deceit for someone who founded the Society for Truth and Justice.

Terry says his in-your-face dishonesty is aimed at denying Obama the presidency by targeting the “55 percent of Catholics and 35 percent of evangelicals” who voted for him. I can pretty much guarantee he’s wasting his time around here on that one.

Many folks around southwest Missouri may remember the freakishly extreme Terry’s involvement in the groundbreaking Nancy Cruzan case, in which a local Carterville girl was revived after a car crash on an icy Jasper County country road in 1983, only to fall into what her family would later learn was a persistent vegetative state. She remained that way for almost eight years.

Her family, who excruciatingly decided to give Nancy the dignified death they believed she would want, fought for years with people like Randall Terry and then-governor John Ashcroft and former U.S. Solicitor General Ken Starr, all big-government conservatives who were more than willing to use the power of government to enforce their Bible-based morality that allegedly demanded Nancy “live” as less than a human being indefinitely.*

Author Marilyn Webb quoted Randall Terry:

We’re going to basically beg [Missouri Attorney General Bill] Webster to intervene for this woman. I am outraged that he has not intervened. I have to ask myself, Do we have just another political opportunist here or do we have a true pro-lifer?”

Joe Cruzan, Nancy’s father, shared the family’s agony with PBS’ Frontline:

I signed the consent form to begin the artificial feeding of Nancy, to have the tube implanted. Looking back on it, I would like to have let her go that night because Nancy died—our Nancy died that night. We’ve got her body left, but she has no dignity whatsoever there and she was a very, very proud, independent person and you would see what was left there and you wondered why. Why? What’s the purpose in this?

Later he said,

There have been times that, you know, I’ve thought, “How can you murder your own child?” Our decision was based on what we felt like that Nancy would want and that’s all we have to justify. What—if the decision’s wrong, if we’re playing God, then I’ll have to live with that, and I’m willing to.

And finally,

I don’t know if I’ll ever see Nancy again or not. I don’t know what’s going to happen after we die. But to me the most important thing was that—that  we had her for those 25 years and regardless of what people say about me or what they think of my motives or whatever happens, no one can ever take that 25 years from me.

Into this profoundly private family heartbreak (father, mother, and sister) and subsequent judgment, some conservative Republicans thrust the muzzle of government. It should never go unremarked that for all the anti-big-government rhetoric dripping from every conservative Republican’s lying lips these days, a large number of those same Republicans are waiting to get control of that big government so they can use it to enforce their controversial moral prescriptions.

GOP talk about limited government almost always means preventing government from doing things like providing unemployment benefits, Medicaid and other help for the poor, or in deregulating corporations so they can pollute and prey and profit.

But when it comes to involving itself in personal decisions, like abortion or end-of-life care, many Republicans want government in the family huddle. Fortunately for the Cruzans and their daughter, the conservatives were ultimately unsuccessful, and the battle waged by the Cruzans has benefited others who have sadly found themselves in their position.

Joe Cruzan said the day his daughter passed away in December, 1990:

Because of Nancy, I suspect hundreds of thousands of people can rest free, knowing that when death beckons, they can meet it face to face with dignity, free from fear of unwanted medical treatment. I think this is quite an accomplishment for a 25-year-old kid, and I’m damned proud of her.

But that pride wasn’t enough. In August of 1996 Joe Cruzan hanged himself in the carport of his Carterville home.

The AP reported the death:

A sheet-metal worker with only a high school education, Joe Cruzan waged a battle of national proportions to break new ground in the right-to-die movement.

In the end, though, he was just a father whose heart was broken beyond repair…

No one will ever know, I suppose, just how much the intense criticism—”Vicious letters labeled the Cruzan’s ‘murderers’ and warned them of ‘God’s judgment‘”—affected his mental health. But he did receive much praise for his efforts, including a Quality in Medicine Award presented by then-Senator John Danforth from Freeman Hospital, where his daughter was first taken for treatment.

In the end, it may have just been the hard choices he and his family had to make and the second-guessing brought on by so many religion-based protests. After all, that, as God-fearing Randall Terry’s plans to “shock” Joplin demonstrates, is the point of such actions.

Marilyn Webb described the “poignant inscription” on Nancy Cruzan’s gravestone:

Nancy Beth Cruzan, most loved daughter, sister, aunt. Born July 20, 1957. Departed Jan. 11, 1983. At peace Dec. 26, 1990. At the top is script that begins with the zigs and zags of a brain-wave scan; the zigzags form the words “thank you,” and then they trail off, becoming a flat line.


* The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case and essentially held that a person has a constitutional right to refuse medical treatment, even if it results in death, but ruled 5-4 that the Cruzans didn’t present enough evidence of Nancy’s wishes in the matter. They later proved to a Jasper County judge’s satisfaction that the family accurately reflected her views.

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  1. I had forgotten Randell Terry. What he does is despicable. You’ve written a good post here.


    • Terry is reportedly supposed to be running an ad showing aborted fetuses in various cities (in states with Democratic primaries, presumably) during the Super Bowl. That should liven things up, should my New England Patriots trounce the Giants.



  2. ansonburlingame

     /  January 24, 2012


    The GOP has a libertarian under the cloak of the Rebulican Party.

    Now you have a loon under your cloak.

    Any suggestions what to do about such things?

    Maybe we really need four parties, Democratic, Republican, Libertarian and Socialist, seriously. Then we can really see how the country might tend to go. Put “all others” loons included into a fifth party.



  1. The Democrat in Me. « M Schuett blah blah blah
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