October 12, 2011

Time to Get Together

The problem with the Republican Party has nothing to do with it being too conservative, and the problem with the Democratic Party is not that it’s too liberal. 

If you got a group of sincere conservatives and sincere liberals in a room together, I guarantee you they’d come up with some sensible solutions to many of our nation’s problem.  There wouldn’t be total agreement, but I’m convinced there’d be enough agreement to get things moving in the right direction.  For both conservatives and liberals agree on numerous important issues:  for example—

  • that we should uphold the Bill of Rights
  • that we should end corporate welfare
  • that we should audit the Federal Reserve
  • that we should use our military for defensive purposes, not for nation-building, not for perpetuating the American Empire.

Obviously many disagreements would remain.  But imagine what a better world this would be if just these four values were implemented.  Just imagine what would happen if we brought our troops home from Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, Japan, etc., etc.  Imagine all the money we’d save, all the money Americans would have to spend and invest.  You want to fix the economy, that seems like a pretty effective way to do it. 

But Republican leaders really aren’t conservative, and Democratic leaders really aren’t liberal.  They’re opportunists, unprincipled opportunists who might sound different from one another but govern pretty much the same way. 

I can’t tell you how sick I’ve grown over the past few weeks listening to the likes of Mitt Romney and Rick Perry tout the virtues of the free market system.  If they really believed their talking points, I might be encouraged, for genuine advocates of free market capitalism reject the current faux capitalist—better described as crony-capitalist—system.  But I just can’t believe that these guys would do what they promise.  Remember the last time we had a “free market” guy in the oval office and “free market” guys and gals running Congress?  Remember their legacy?

[S]choolchildren struggling under No Child Left Behind, which federalized K-12 education to an unprecedented degree with nothing to show for it other than greater spending tabs…[T]he bizarrely structured Medicare prescription-drug benefit, the largest entitlement program created since LBJ…[T]he simple reality that taxpayers now guarantee some $8 trillion in inscrutable loans to a financial sector that collapsed from inscrutable loans...

The most basic Bush numbers are damning. If increases in government spending matter, then Bush is worse than any president in recent history. During his first four years in office—a period during which his party controlled Congress—he added a whopping $345 billion (in constant dollars) to the federal budget. The only other presidential term that comes close? Bush’s second term. As of November 2008, he had added at least an additional $287 billion on top of that (and the months since then will add significantly to the bill). To put that in perspective, consider that the spendthrift LBJ added a mere $223 billion in total additional outlays in his one full term.

If spending under Bush was a disaster, regulation was even worse. The number of pages in the Federal Registry is a rough proxy for the swollen expanse of the regulatory state. In 2001, some 64,438 pages of regulations were added to it. In 2007, more than 78,000 new pages were added. Worse still, argues the Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy, Bush is the unparalleled master of “economically significant regulations” that cost the economy more than $100 million a year. Since 2001, he jacked that number by more than 70 percent. Since June 2008 alone, he introduced more than 100 economically significant regulations.  (Nick Gillespie, “Bush Was a Big-Government Disaster,” 26 January 2009)

And the Democrats—let me just say this about the Democrats.  From 2009-2010, we had a Democrat in the White House and Democrats controlling both houses of Congress, and we got no real change.  It’s as though Bush and the Republicans never left.  With regard to issues like war, civil liberties, and corporate welfare, the policies remained almost exactly the same, as David Bromwich has so cogently articulated (“Symptoms of the Bush-Obama Presidency,” 18 August 2011) (See also Glenn Greenwald’s “”The ACLU on Obama and core liberties,” 7 September 2011 and “Can OWS be turned into a Democratic Party movement?” 11 October 2011.)

All of which means that we need to stop supporting these jokers, these Republocrats and Democans. Conservatives need to stop wasting their votes on these anti-conservative Republicans, and liberals need to stop wasting their votes on these anti-liberal Democrats.  We need to stop searching for the Lesser of Two Evils Candidate.  For even if we’re actually able to determine the Lesser Evil (and I’m not sure that’s possible), we’re still throwing our votes away.  Yes, one candidate might lead us to hell at a slightly slower pace than the other, but we’re still going to end up in hell. 

It’s time for coalition building.  It’s time for all of us—conservatives, liberals, everyone—to stand together against the corporate-state monster and all its appendages (in other words, pretty much all mainstream politicians).  It’s time to follow the lead of people like Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, Chuck Baldwin, and Cynthia McKinney and recognize that we agree about the most important issues—war, civil liberties, corporate welfare—and worry about hashing out our differences another day.