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Democrats' overtures to the middle class should be resisted

Thinking It Through

As a wise saying has it, “Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.” The palpable fact of Democrat failure in the face of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression was ignored last week by speakers at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Unemployment remains above eight percent of the working population for the 42nd straight month, four straight $1 trillion dollar plus annual budget deficits have been run up, and the national debt now exceeds $16,000,000,000.

Why the disconnect? Why did Great Britain ignore the growing Nazi threat in the 1930s? Why did the federal government ignore the Islamist terror threat for 30 years? Because it is easier to cling to comfortable illusions than to face up to painful realities.
It is bad enough that a major segment of the American electorate, i.e., the Democratic Party base, continues to believe that our economic problems can be solved by spending yet more federal dollars and “making the rich pay their fair share.” It is worse that these delusions are being sold as a means of saving the middle class from poverty.

All over the Democrat party convention floor delegates held up signs of support for the middle class, but the fact is that the middle class, correctly understood and historically recognized, wants no part of big government, crony capitalism, government handouts or cradle to grave security.

The term “middle class” was coined hundreds of years ago during feudal times to refer to the merchants and financiers who depended on the market for their wealth instead of their clout, or lack of it, in royal courts. They were neither aristocrats nor peasants, but were a class apart that was neither elevated nor degraded by fortune but distinguished by talent and hard work.

When America became an independent nation, there were remnants of the old feudal classes but they soon became irrelevant because they were outclassed, so to speak, by entrepreneurs whose main political desire was to be free to pursue their dreams of self-sufficiency and ultimately, great wealth. It is no accident, then, that the form of government established in the United States was limited to a few sovereign powers at the national level and numerous powers reserved to the states.

President Obama’s oft-stated concern for the middle class is a loving embrace that ought to be resisted with all the virtue we have. A dependent people are not a free people. Free people spurn improper advances as decisively as a woman of character does.
When nearly half the country pays no income taxes and/or receives some sort of public assistance, we approach a state in which citizens become mere subjects and vote not with an eye to the public good but to their own immediate gratification. Elections are reduced to the equivalent of food fights.

John Stuart Mill, a 19th century English philosopher, was a strong supporter of socialism, and therefore a darling of many liberals, but he drew the line at voting. He wrote in his work on parliamentary government that persons on the dole were not independent citizens but wards of the state.

In plain words, Mill was saying that those who pay no taxes and yet receive public aid are not qualified to decide, by means of their election of representatives, how the public money should be spent. Unfortunately, what was once a fraction of the population has now become a major force in our politics here as well as in Great Britain.

Rapturous expressions were on delegates’ faces as former President Bill Clinton assured them that, despite Obama’s promises to turn the economy around in his first term, it wasn’t possible given the “mess” left over from the Bush Administration. But Ronald Reagan in 1981 inherited an economic crisis rivaling the current one and turned it around by lowering tax rates, restraining the growth of government and thereby stimulating commerce that produced millions of new jobs.

“Pride goeth before a fall” reads the book of Proverbs. Thus, Democrats clinging to economic and fiscal delusions can’t bring themselves to question their misplaced faith. But Americans who still understand what causes prosperity and what genuine faith demands still have judgment here.

Americans, be wary of demagogues who profess concern for the middle class. Governments exist to secure our rights by keeping the peace and establishing justice. We can take care of our own, thank you, without giving up our rights to wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Richard Reeb taught political science, philosophy and journalism at Barstow College from 1970 to 2003. He is the author of “ Taking Journalism Seriously: ‘Objectivity’ as a Partisan Cause”  (University Press of America, 1999). He can be contacted at

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