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Distracting Americans is what Democrats do best
W e are in the throes of the worst fiscal crisis this nation has ever faced and we are bogged down in a debate over who’s responsible for the current government shutdown or a possible default on our national debt. What we should be doing is cutting back unconstitutional government programs and reducing the level of taxation. But we can’t because President Obama, Senate majority leader Harry Reid and their fellow Democrats have distracted the American people with caricatures of the Republican Party.
Demonizing the opposition is nothing new for the Democrats. They’ve been doing it since the days of Andrew Jackson and Stephen Douglas in the nineteenth century, and Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson in the twentieth. The party has always championed the “common man,” thereby giving short shrift to the uncommon one, meanwhile keeping the “common man” down and pursuing nefarious schemes at their followers’ expense.
Slavery was perpetuated by an unholy alliance of southern slave masters and New York financiers until their determination to spread slavery across the nation ran into the inflexible opposition of the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln. Hostile to commerce, Democrats blocked for decades the opportunity for poor people to raise their standard of living. But compromising with the slave power was no longer possible by 1860 and a bitter war came that ended slavery at a high price in human lives and resources. Pray that we never suffer so much destruction again.
Today’s Democrats still favor unlimited expansion, but instead of the naked oppression of a whole class of people because of their race they favor bureaucratic oppression of a whole class of people because of their success. Since 1933, when Democrats began their domination of the federal government, the annual federal budget has increased from $3 billion to well over $3 trillion. Of course, they haven’t governed all those years, but their time out of power has always been an occasion for denouncing Republicans for not sharing their enthusiasm for domestic empire building.
Democrats have always resented a prosperous private sector, which they see only as the domination of big business, for it is an unwelcome obstacle to their ambition to dominate the country with a multitude of government programs, offices and employees.
Now Barack Obama is pulling out all the stops to prevent Republicans, energized by the rise of the Tea Party in the 2010 elections, from restraining the growth of big government and particularly from overturning his signature legislative achievement, the grossly misnamed Affordable Care Act (ACA).
As Republicans struggle against the combined power of the President and the Senate, and their chirping sectaries in the liberal media, academia and even churches and synagogues, they are being denounced in terms more fit for actual enemies of our form of self-government in Russia, China and the Muslim world than loyal citizens. But calling law-abiding, Constitution-loving Americans “anarchists,” “hostage takers” and the like is typical of Democrat politicians seduced by the totalitarian temptation.
Americans in the nineteenth century opposed to chattel slavery ranged from outright abolitionists to more cautious Free Soilers, divided and sometimes mistaken in their tactics but who never erred on what our nation’s greatest problem was. Democrats demonized enemies of slavery in those days. Today Republicans are divided over whether to strike hard now against the latest bureaucratic excrescence or wait for its own internal contradictions to bring it down. But they see clearly that America’s prosperity and her citizens’ liberty are in jeopardy.
A common complaint among our confused citizenry is that party politics are preventing a solution of the fiscal crisis. Some even imagine that if Republicans and Democrats would just decide to do what is good for the country or, better yet, just fade away, our problems would be solved. But the parties in fact represent — they did not simply create — a divided country. More precisely, Democrats have divided the country between members and wards of the government and self-supporting men and women.
What we need is not less partisanship but more. Not narrow Democrat partisanship that distracts people from the real issues with nasty insinuations about Republicans, but grand partisanship, which only the Republicans are capable of providing, that makes the hard decisions which alone can save the country.
The solution? Return to our constitutional limits by reducing the size of the federal government and its drain on our people’s resources. We need a government OF the people, not a government OVER the people.
Richard Reeb taught political science, philosophy and journalism at Barstow College from 1970 to 2003. He is the author of "Take Journalism Seriously: 'Objectivity' as a Partisan Cause" (University Press of America, 1999). He can be contacted at email@example.com