This week, a good friend said that he very much enjoyed my blogs, only, could I “please tone it down a bit?” He was basically trying to say that though I have good points, my writing is so full of vitriol, piss, and vinegar, that they are frankly hard to stomach (as a point of clarification, I hope, dear reader, that you note my position is not extreme—the manner in which I express my position is—and there is a distinct difference).
Fair enough. I’m sure he’s not the only one (readers nod). OK fine….today, I will write a toned down version of my political point of view (which, by the way, is the correct one to have). Oops…sorry, I have to stop doing that.
To begin with, let me define the current platform of each political party as objectively as is possible, so as to clearly delineate what exactly we are talking about.
The Republican Platform and Planks
For Republicans, the most important thing to do is cut the deficit; however, this does not include making cuts in the military, or raising new revenues by either closing tax loopholes, or raising taxes. In other words, Republicans want to cut the deficit, but what they really want to do is cut the size of government by getting rid of the parts they don’t like, or believe that private companies could do better.
Additionally, Republicans would like to see fewer regulations (whether they are environmental, safety, or fiscal) on businesses (because they believe the market is self regulating), lower taxes in general, and they view these policies as leading to better economic conditions. In this vein, they generally oppose unions, as well as public employees of any kind. As an axiom, private business is always preferable to government service, and social programs like Medicare, Social Security, welfare, unemployment, etc., are unnecessary and provide an incentive to be irresponsible and unproductive.
Because of this, Republicans want to fund as few social programs as possible, especially when their religious views conflict with even small aspects of those programs (i.e. their recent efforts to cut funding for Planned Parenthood or NPR). Indeed, the Republican party believes strongly in enforcing religious beliefs and other moral views, through state and/or federal law.
The Democratic Platform and Planks
Democrats believe that the government has a role in providing some services that the private market cannot effectively provide, especially if that service is necessary for the general wellbeing of all citizens and to the collective society as a whole. Thus, public school, police, fire, health care (Medicare and the recent Affordable Health Care Act), and a retirement pension (Social Security), ought to be provided by the government.
In addition, specific services should be provided for the neediest citizens, such as: food stamps, WIK, unemployment insurance, welfare, home heating assistance, etc.
Democrats believe that a progressive income tax is fair, because the more money you make, the more likely it is that you benefit from the general services and stability the government provides. They also believe that private industry should be regulated, so that the public good isn’t endangered by self-serving economic activities.
Democrats also support unionized labor and public employees, viewing them as ways of both promoting a middle class, as well as protecting the rights of workers to earn fair wages and benefits.
Finally, Democrats believe there should be a clear separation between church and state. They also believe generally, that social norms should not be legislated by the state or federal government, as long as the behavior is not impacting the health and wellbeing of others in society.
OK, this is admittedly missing some aspects of the political beliefs (I didn’t address foreign policy, for instance) of both parties, but if we look at recent actions by our representatives, this is, if not perfect, at least pretty damn close to what each political party believes. If you think I’m wrong about something, please feel free to correct me in the comments section.
Now, the reason I am so adamantly opposed to the Republican Party is simple: their beliefs, put into action, have created a society of massive inequality, and as a direct consequence, an economy that is crippled by a lack of demand. Personally, I would like it if the economy were better, and I suspect I am not alone in that regard.
The reason for my vitriol is simple: nothing is being done to correct these problems, and when confronted with the clear empirical evidence that cutting taxes and regulations doesn’t work, and in fact produces a sluggish economy, Republicans have responded by doubling down on these very policies. Again, I would really like the economy to get better, so it horrifies me to see a push to enact policies that will prevent this from happening.
Look, it is not that the Republicans have such bad ideas, necessarily, in principle, and this is why so many Americans continue to vote for them in spite of their own best interests. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if none of us had to pay taxes? And wouldn’t it be nice, as a business owner, to not have to worry about all those pesky regulations that get in the way? And wouldn’t it be fantastic, if, instead of relying on the government to help people, we could rely on each other? YES!!! ABSOLUTELY!!! I’M ALL IN!!!
Oh, but wait, there’s a slight problem: Republican ideas don’t work in practice. People don’t just voluntarily spend their extra tax money to create jobs. If they did, our economy would be great right now—after all, taxes are the lowest they’ve been since the 1950’s relative to our GDP. And businesses don’t just voluntarily regulate themselves. If they did, the bankers on Wall Street, instead of divvying up mortgages into derivatives and securities so that no one could tell who owned what, would’ve never bought those bad mortgages in the first place. And unfortunately, as much as people do volunteer and donate to charity, most folks I know don’t have the means to pay for a poor family’s heating bill all winter, or provide their kids or pregnant daughter with healthcare services year-round. So yes, in principle, Republican ideas sound good, but they just don’t work.
The other aspect of Republican politics that is so frustrating, and perhaps another reason for why I get so fired up, is that there is so much propaganda and lying. I mean, it’s one thing for someone to press you on an idea that you know in your heart is wrong, but it’s just plain awful when that same person—confronted with the fact they are wrong—knowingly lies, omits facts, or distorts the truth in order to make sure they confuse as many people as possible so that they can push their idea anyway.
Granted, some of this is a natural part of politics, it’s just that the Republicans—primarily because their ideas don’t work—have made “spin” a part of their entire culture.
Democrats, on the other hand, tend to generally represent my interests and beliefs. I believe that we should have programs to help people, especially the least among us. I believe that we should have regulations to protect consumers, the environment, and workers. I believe we should have a fair tax system, wherein the better you do, the more you can afford to contribute to the society that has fostered you with such a good life, and so many opportunities.
To me, in a perfect world, conservatives exist to tell liberals, “whoa, hold on a second, let’s not go too far there bucko.” They exist to make sure we don’t pass tax laws that would put unfair burdens on business, or allow social programs to become too absurd, expensive, or overreaching. But if they aren’t being prudent, responsible, and reasonable, conservatives are no longer conservatives. When you add to this a penchant to lie, to distort the truth, and to omit facts, conservatives lose their credibility, and eventually, people are going to get mad. Very.
I am simply one of those people. My position is not at all extreme. I want a functioning economy, a fair tax system, and a few basic services that the government can and should provide to its citizens. The Republicans don’t. And it impacts me, and every other American, in a very personal way: our life, our liberty, and our ability to pursue happiness. So yeah, I’m pretty mad about that.