Democrats versus Republicans: A Subtle, But No Less Profound Distinction

Friday, July 26, 2012

I’m a registered Independent, an equal opportunity critic of both parties. When I was growing up, I was taught that the distinction between Republicans and Democrats was that the Republicans were pro-business, while the Democrats were pro-labor.

As it turns out, it’s only recently, decades later and thanks largely to President Obama, that I’ve begun to fully appreciate the underlying meaning of this philosophical difference. I used to think it meant that Republicans believed that business drove the economy, if only government would stay out of its way, while Democrats were more focused upon using government to protect people from economic problems and social inequalities that individuals are generally powerless to resolve on their own. This was the distinction that had me favoring Democrat candidates and programs when I was in college, and for a long while after that, in rebellious contrast to my parents who were staunch, Eisenhower Republicans.

Isn’t that pretty much it? A classic laissez-faire (literally “let do,” meaning “leave ‘em alone”) attitude toward business versus government with a conscience? No. Unfortunately, there’s another layer to the onion that is Washington and that we need to peel to fully appreciate exactly what’s stinking up the place – and why we can’t afford to re-elect President Obama. It has to do with nothing less significant than the purpose of government.

Mitt Romney believes that government should, here’s the key word, “facilitate” economic recovery and encourage growth. President Obama, on the other hand, believes that it is the role, in fact the duty of government to “save” the economy and our country in general. The first is a practical approach that attempts to respect the scope, scale and power of our economy – while questioning the right of government tell any of us what to do. The second, the President’s notion of saving the country, is just plain not possible. To think otherwise is a delusion we literally can’t afford to have powering our ship of state. However well-intended, his programs are bankrupting our country – which wouldn’t be so wildly unacceptable, as a short-term strategy, if his programs were working, if they were putting people back to work, but they’re not.

The President’s economic policies have failed because they are poorly designed, lacking the precision focus that that is necessary for relatively puny government initiatives to leverage hugely more powerful, natural forces of the economy in order to stimulate consumer demand. The President and his Democrats in Congress just don’t know what they’re doing. They have no chance of saving America. I know that. Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke knows that and tried to tell them the other day. More to the point, voters are well on their way to arriving at the same conclusion.

The economy is too large and complex. The best the Democrats can hope to accomplish, but not with their current set of economic recovery programs, is to “facilitate” – There’s that word again. – a recovery, but that would be way too Republican. The Republicans, for whatever reasons they’ve come to this conclusion, have no intention of saving anyone. That’s where smart recovery legislation starts but, regrettably, it’s a point of view that can seem more than a bit cold, if not outright creepy.

No matter. This needs to be a Republican year. The Democrats, particularly the ones in The White House and the Democrat Senators and Congressmen who blindly support his programs, need to be replaced. We don’t need saving. We, the millions of un- and under-employed Americans, including businessmen and women whose companies are doing only a fraction of the business they should be, need to go back to work.

As for the part about personal freedom and government telling us what to do? I’m certain there are millions of Americans who need and deserve the help a good, smart government, backed by a prosperous, growing economy, could provide. In the meantime, I can’t get the words of the old Jonathan Edwards song (“Sunshine“) out of my head. “He” (our government) “can’t even run his own life. I’ll be damned if he’ll run mine.”

P.S. Future article teaser?! Why not? As a preview of articles to come and to be fair to our Democrat friends, the Republican affection for business is a bad case of “supply side economics,” fraught with it’s own problems. Ours is a “consumer demand driven” economy. We can talk more about that later. In the meantime, on November 6, I’m willing to bet my vote that Republican newcomers to Washington are more open-minded, more creative and more willing to compromise – and a lot more likely to figure it all out than the career incumbents they’re about to replace.

-Next Contestant

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