Republicans do not follow own idealsJun 18th, 2009 | By Mike Courson | Category: Blogs, Opinions
by Mike Courson
Leave me alone! In recent history, at least since Nixon, definitely since Reagan, the Republican Party has claimed to be the party of small government. How odd, then, that though the Republicans have more or less been in power for several decades now, there are only more personal restrictions on the books.
The most amazing thing to me is the sales pitch. Sadly, I think this has been one of the most destructive forces to getting things done in America. Thomas Frank had a best-seller with “What’s the Matter with Kansas,” a book that examines how the heart of blue-collar America votes for a party that continuously votes against its interests. His latest book, “The Wrecking Crew,” examines how the conservative movement has corrupted the government and made it the legislation-for-sale body it is today.
Frank’s ideas are hardly new. In Michael Moore’s documentary “Sicko,” sociologists discuss the cynical environment created by conservatives. Though the Republicans are in power, and are in position to help, they belittle the government and make it out to be a bad thing. Next thing you know, America has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the democratic world because people have no faith in their government or the power to change it.
In April, longtime Republican senator Arlen Spector (Penn.), announced that he was switching parties. The major media covered the event as if Spector truly had a change of heart. By Spector’s own admission, he switched parties because he did not think he could win the Republican nomination. He did not switch on principle or to help anyone but himself. He did so merely as a reelection ploy. Somehow, only Jon Stewart on Comedy Central reported it this way.
More recently, a host of Republican congressmen came out against President Obama’s nationalized healthcare plan. One congressman said Obama is trying to destroy the greatest medical system ever known. Another equated nationalized healthcare to going to the DMV and standing in line.
The World Health Organization rates this “greatest system” as the 37th best in the world. My own experiences, and those of people I know, lean more towards the 37 than the one. And what kind of example is the DMV? What about the military? Emergency services? The Postal Service? All nationalized systems that seem to work pretty well. Are we really going to buy this argument?
I might not care as much what the conservatives say if they stayed out of everyone’s business. I am a civil libertarian. I say if it doesn’t hurt anybody, let it be. That’s different than libertarianism, because I have more faith in the individual than the corporation. The conservatives claim to be for small government, but the movement is more about less regulation in the business world, forgetting about individual rights, because there is no profit in protecting the individual.
The conservative reach into our private lives really is profound. Gays cannot get married and are denied the same rights as other Americans. Certain organizations want to tell me what is appropriate to read and watch. Many conservatives want to interject their religion into the government, despite the Establishment Clause that clearly says this is a no-no. The abortion issue comes to mind.
The difference was never clearer than on an episode of “30 Days,” from director Morgan Spurlock, who also made “Supersize Me.” An atheist goes to live with a conservative Christian family for 30 days. While this woman shows an everyday tolerance because she is surrounded by a religious majority and has no problem accepting their beliefs, the conservatives could not even conceive of something as hypothetical as removing “In God We Trust” from our money. They had evidently never even thought about the other side.
This is the irony of the conservative movement. As little as they claim to like government, they love laws that promote their interests, even if those interests are not shared by all, and the laws in question may limit the harmless lifestyles of others. The taste, then, is not one of small government, but of intolerance.
The hypocrisy has not gone unnoticed either. In the 2004 vice presidential debates, John Edwards, who has since revealed his true, slimy character, asked Dick Cheney about gay marriage. The question was not so much about gay marriage as it was about the personality of a father who cannot even support his own daughter. Edwards was vilified for asking the question, but here is Cheney in 2009 now supporting gay marriage.
In the 80s, the Reagans wanted nothing to do with stem-cell research. Only after President Reagan became sick did they change their minds. And what of all those people who missed out on research because Reagan had good health in the 80s and 90s? Again, just another show of nothing more than self-interest and lack of empathy.
The truth is, government can make a positive impact in our lives. It does so on a daily basis. Their brand of smaller government is killing the individual and letting the corporations run rampant. Maybe, just maybe, that has something to do with where we are today.