The short answer to that question is “yes” and “no.” Party politics in our country is historically rife with both questionable conduct and criminal conduct. In the case of the latter, I am referring to Senator Charles Sumner, a Massachusetts Republican being viciously attacked by Representative Preston Brooks, a South Carolina Democrat. Brooks entered the chamber and beat Sumner mercilessly with his cane in December 1855 because of Sumner’s stance on the Kansas-Nebraska Act, “Free-Soilers” vs. Pro-slavery. After his election, Andrew Jackson’s wife was openly referred to as a whore by opposition press because she was a divorced woman. Political parties are not nearly so blatant today as these two examples but what they lack in being blatant they make up for, and then some, in subtle and not so subtle statements.
The Republican party is labeled by Democrats as the party of “meanness” and racism. Republicans paint Democrats as the party of big government and entitlement. But are these charges true, even a little bit? Yes but for both parties. Both are racist, both are for big government, both over-spend, both promote entitlements, and both are entirely motivate towards their own political expedience and very little towards the public good.
Let me start with the national debt. Both sides say it needs to be reduced now although they of course differ in how that should happen. A leading economist, who I believe has a somewhat conservative leaning, though not a lot, said the national debt is virtually meaningless. He pointed out there are two huge debts that must be dealt with and that you cannot, in fact, deal with both at the same time. The second debt, that no one is talking about, is private debt. That debt that you and I hold. He said that debt is far more important than public debt because it has a far greater effect on spending and our economy than the public debt. He stated that the public debt can be carried forward for quite some time while the private debt is reduced. He suggested a slow reduction of the public debt while the private debt is dealt with.
Now, as to big government, since 1933, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt first took office, the size of our government has been increased by each and every administration from then on. And during that time both major political parties have been complicit in its growth. The only question is, has it needed to grow? Of course it has. As public programs are added to government there is the necessity of administration over those programs. Prior to World War 2 there was no Veterans Administration, now there is. With the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the Nuclear Regulatory Administration was formed. In the mid-1950s NASA was formed when Russia entered space. And that is how it has gone. Without exception, the formation of these agencies has required the blessing of Congress. Those Congresses have been led by one or the other party. But since 1933 only one agency that I have been able to identify has ever been disbanded. That was the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and that was only because it was declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court after a Republican challenge to its existence.
What I am saying is that both parties are equally guilty, if there truly is guilt, in our government being as big as it is. That brings to question what the role of government is. By definition, “the administration and control of public policy in a political unit . . . [the] exercise of authority in a political unit . . . the agency . . . [that] exercises authority and performs the required duties.” (Webster’s Dictionary, Riverside Publishing, 1988, p. 541). Simply put, we need agencies to assist us in living in our defined society. What both parties are trying to sell us is that we need to reduce the Federal Budget without reducing that actual size of its agencies except under the threat of diminished budgets. That is unreasonable. The first to take the hit, which I find particularly offensive, is the Dept. of Defense. Right now the government is giving the appearance of being responsible with its latest incantation of the Base Closure and Realignment Committee. That is 100% unnecessary, or at the very least, of a much lower priority in that domain. A military no longer engaged in a war will naturally need fewer dollars to continue. Its demand for armaments will naturally reduce. If anything, our military is already too small. The Department of Defense has too long been an easy target. That has got to end!
The next place politician looks to reduce the budget is entitlements, social security, medicare, welfare, and other programs. It would be far more expedient, and reasonable, if, with the exception of social security, these programs and their administration were turned over to the individual states to include their complete funding. I think the entire Department of Housing and Urban Developement could be greatly reduced, along with Health and Human Services, were they turned over to the various states for funding. The exceptions from those departments would be the regulatory portion that must be administered by the Federal Government, and, those portions that necessarily cross state lines as provided by the 14th Amendment.
We Americans, all of us, are allowing of minds to be manipulated by political think tanks and behind the scenes operatives. Two such operatives are James Carville, Democrats, and Carl Rove, Republicans, have been allowed to wield too much power over us by spinning their messages without regard for the truth. In recent years I was offended by Republican operatives putting into question John Kerry’s awards in Vietnam. People who get silver stars are vetted extremely well prior to the award and to ever claim anyone received such an award without good reason puts all awards into questions. But I found equally offensive the Democrats contending that George W. Bush somehow dodged military service by joining the Texas Air National Guard. I know for fact that there were national guard members who served in Vietnam. Bush did not dodge a thing, and in fact was honoring a commitment many others of his monetary level avoided. In both cases politics tried to portray these individuals as being something less than honorable, and their actions as being highly questionable. Also in each case, it was the desire of those behind the attacks to manipulate our feelings even though their statements were entirely without merit. But we all have been complicit in these horrible allegations by not calling down those of our own political bent. As a Democrat I defended Bush’s service when it was called into question. As a veteran I look at all other veterans as brothers in arms and I never allow their political preference to make a difference in that feeling.
What I am saying in all that is, we as Americans have got to take back our political parties. We as individuals no longer have any control what-so-ever over them. Both political parties now only pay homage to the Super-PACs that fund them. What each major party needs to do is to make a statement that all political statements not made by a candidate or their authorized committee is without merit, that we should ignore any statements made by such groups. I do not want large environmental PACs telling me that drilling in Northern Alaska will kill indigenous life when in fact government can work out contracts that will allow for proper care nor do I want big finance PACs telling me that federal oversight of Wall Street at a greater level is unnecessary when all evidence says otherwise. I believe before anyone should yell how they want government out of their lives, they should be yelling they want the power of PACs over our government reduced to something next to zero.
In the past election cycle I voted against all incumbents, and where there was no opposition, I wrote in “none of the above.” I am so tired of the party I have generally supported, Democrats, coming off with all its self-righteousness. I am equally tired of Republicans claiming they know what “Americans want” and being the patriotic party. I have seen no proof recently that either political party has any clue what most Americans want. I believe they are so out of touch with the average American that even a detailed account being given them as required reading would not allow them to see the light. They would each likely dismiss out-of-hand what they were being shown as somehow being wrong. To me, it looks like all 535 senators and representatives are some of the most clueless bastards to have ever walked the halls of Congress. Congress has forgotten that it represents people, all the people who elected them. It is not to consider the desire of corporations, PACs, foreign delegations, foreign corporations, or any other entity that cannot cast a vote. Each and every one of them takes an oath of office to which they swear to “bear true faith and allegiance” to the Constitution of the United States, and by extension, to the people who it is supposed to protect.
I ask any who read this to take the time to challenge any and all statements made by individuals who are running for office and any group that makes statements that purport to support a particular political agenda. We must start thinking for ourselves or we will find ourselves victim to our own negligence.