In March 1958, just short of my seventeenth birthday, I became a member of the Euphradian Society of the University of South Carolina. It was a debate society, called a "literary society," which had been in existence since 1806. A new member had to make an inaugural speech, and mine had a title that will surprise no one here. It was "The Dangers of Modern Liberalism."

You can find the record of this speech, like all the other Euphradian notes going all the way back to about 1819, at the Caroliniana Library on the horseshoe at USC.

Back then, I had a lot of loyalties. I connected leftism with socialism, so I was loyal to the interests of big business. In 1962, when President Kennedy forced Big Steel to keep the price of steel from rising, United States Steel had no allies like us young people in the Young Americans for Freedom.

Well, to our cost, we learned better. Every leftist cause had a long list of Big Business sponsors. We Southerners bought Fords loyally, and the Ford Motor Company paid the Ford Foundation to back the left and underwrote the NAACP. Automotive workers' unions poured money into the far left of the Democratic Party, and every dime came from the dumb-and-loyal Ford buyers concentrated in the South.

The churches we supported sold us out every time it looked like it might pay off. The Democratic Party kicked us in the teeth. Then the Republican Party kicked conservatives in the teeth, regular as Big Ben, every four years at the convention. Boy, were we loyal. Boy, were we STUPID!!!

The Methodist Church sold us out. Now Bob Jones sells us out on the flag issue. The South Carolina Democratic Party sold us out to the liberals then, now statewide Republican officials line up on the NAACP side at press conferences to disown us.

Is anybody beginning to notice a pattern?

For the umpteenth time, let me make the major lesson of all this in this column. Politics is a rough business. Politics is a harsh business. Let me tell you how people on Capitol Hill look at loyalty.

There are exactly one thousand four hundred and sixty-one (1461) days between presidential elections. Conservatives can cry and moan and shout "Betrayal!" for 1460 of those days. They can talk about bolting for Buchanan.

Nobody cares, and for a very good reason.

On election day, conservatives always come crawling back.

And that, dear reader, is absolutely all that matters.

When we are all out there marching for the flag on January 8, no one is going to care, and for a very good reason.

The statewide Republican leaders, the Bob Jones alumnae fund, the Clemson Board of Directors, the Citadel Board of Directors, all of them are going to assume that it ends there, and the doglike loyalty will resume.

Leftists never forgive treason to their principles until someone DOES SOMETHING to make up for it. Conservatives demand nothing. Like a puppy dog, rightists just forget about it the next day.

1) Liberals have no doglike loyalty. The left is loyal only to its principles.

2) Liberals do not forget any betrayal.

3) Liberals tend to get their way.

Does anybody notice a pattern here?

Robert Heinlein, the science fiction writer, said many things I did not agree with. But he hit upon one great, eternal truth. When every principle we cherish is dead, his words should be etched on the gravestone


So, out here in the real world, there are two forces.

There are leftists, who dedicate their support and their MEMORY only to the goals they believe society should pursue. The other force is conservatism, which worships uniforms, Republicans, church leaders, trendy opinion, and whatever is in today's newspapers.

Guess whose principles win?

Guess why.

If anything we treasure is to survive, we are going to have to dedicate ourselves to a third way.

Please notice I said DEDICATE ourselves. This does not mean a short-term verbal commitment while we preserve our secular worships of uniforms and church officials and Republicans.

It means total secession.

When we march on January 8, it can be another meaningless expression of right-wing frustration. Or it can be one of the most meaningful events in American political history.

On the flag, all the "leaders" we have followed have come out against us. We are taking them all on, left and right. A leftist boycott has frustrated every state's attempt to hold out against fashionable opinion. They crushed Colorado's s attempt to deny gays special privileges. Their boycott overcame the Arizona governor's attempt to avoid giving state employees millions of dollars each year in the form of a Martin Luther King holiday. Every state has caved in to interstate economic pressure from the

left, aided by "leaders" on the right.

At this point, if we are able to resist the combined pressure of leftists and the rightist "leaders" who always become their allies, we will have done something absolutely unique. They can't afford to lose this one.

But we have some new allies. The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), like the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), always tried to stay out of politics. But the SCV's new leadership realizes that the left will not allow anything Confederate to survive. They are joining us in this fight.

I understand that even the UDC will have a speaker at the pro-flag rally.

This is major breakthrough. For the first time, a local fight against the forces of Political Correctness has attracted groups that were out of politics before this fight began. This new configuration of forces is the only one that should have our loyalty as we fight ALL the powers that be.

When we all go home after the march, the real question is going to arise: where do we stand? Are we part of a new third way, a new way which is loyal only to our principles? Or will we go crawling back to the second group, the old loser/loyal brand of conservatism?

This choice will determine whether the pro-flag march in Columbia on January 8 will be utterly meaningless or a fundamental event in American political history.