As promised earlier this month; why I could be a Democrat. In the oldest and purist definitions of the labels, I am a liberal. I believe that the Constitution provides for a strong federal government with a mandate to provide the social and commercial framework for individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to succeed.
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Just a little note to John Boehner and Glenn Beck…this is what we call, the Preamble to the Constitution. Take a moment to think about these words in the light of all that has been screamed by some about this country’s “departure” from the “founders intent”. That may a bit off-topic…but you know how I get sometimes.
Further on in the document we find the Commerce Clause. This allows the Federal Government to regulate matters of interstate commerce. If you like knowing what is in your food, or you wanted something done about tainted Chinese dog food, then you are probably a fan of this clause. In fact, I would argue that many people who think that “liberal” is a curse word, are actually quite liberal themselves. We have fallen into this trap over the last thirty years or so, that has convinced us that since nobody likes taxes, and everybody likes a deal, then we are actually a conservative country.
Perhaps if folks could point to a program that takes up at least 10% of the Federal Budget annually that they would be willing to cut, then I could believe that they were conservative. I will propose a test. I will name a program, and you decide if you (or a super majority of Americans) would be willing to cut it.
- National Defense…our troops and their equipment
- Social Security…our retirement, unless the brokers can do better
- Medicare…health care in our retirement
- Medicaid and CHIP…half of the money to support health care for (roughly) 45 million Americans monthly (States match the money)
- Federal and Veterans pensions…self-explanatory
Do you think that we can make major, permanent cuts to these programs? Do you want cuts to these programs? If not, here is a shocking statistic; when you add these costs to the 8% that America spent on debt service in 2008, they totaled 87% of the budget. Now, keep in mind that this budget was projected with a deficit, and that it did not include money for the wars or emergency services (like FEMA). President Bush chose to leave those items “off-budget”. For this year, to avoid a deficit without raising taxes, we would have had to cut roughly 50% from the budget. Remember again that the programs above plus debt service equalled 87%.
These are sobering numbers. Transportation, small business support, science and technology, law enforcement, the intelligence agencies, agricultural subsidies, energy, and meat inspectors all occupy the 13% that was left over. How much of that do you feel comfortable cutting? Or perhaps, you think some of those programs are underfunded now? President Reagan made brilliant use of the phrase “tax and spend liberal”, but that is politics. The last few paragraphs are reality. The “marketplace” is not going to provide ANY of that stuff unless they are bribed. So where do you cut?
That, I suppose, defines a liberal. I believe that the large uniform marketplace created by a strong federal system is what allowed us to become the strongest economy in the world. That in turn allowed us to become the strongest nation in the world. The Europeans know this, which is why they have spent 60 years trying to get functional central government on their continent. I also believe that governments ought to act like business; and business grows and dominates by raising new capital and reinvesting profits in research and infrastructure. We borrow money and raise taxes as we need to ensure that our infrastructure (people, transportation, energy, resources) is the best.
So why am I not a Democrat? Because, as the Congress is proving now, Democrats are exactly what Republicans accuse them of being…weak! The power that Blanche Lincoln, Joe Lieberman, and Ben Nelson have at this moment, is there because the United States voted in a super majority into the House and Senate. That vote happened on the back of people fighting for health care reform, energy reform, and financial reform. Those were the central issues voted on in 2008, and yet Democrats can’t do the job with what they have.
For as long as I have been aware of politics, Democrats have been weak in the knees. Unquestionably a good guy, Michael Dukakis paved the way for liberal’s turn into a curse word. When the first George Bush “accused” him of being a liberal, Dukakis ran from the term and so legitimized the usage. Democrats have repeatedly bowed to pressure rather than voting their principles. Democrats with control of either the House or the Senate have forever spent their time “protecting their majority” instead of using it. While I have, at times, been frustrated at the GOP’s posture this year, the fact is that they are showing the fight that Americans value in their leaders.
If Democrats ever figured that out…watch out! They might actually live up to a few of their promises. The rational middle is open to fighting words….