Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Vitriol in Today's Politics

Now that the holidays have past, perhaps we can take a moment to think quietly about the changes in our culture. Permit me to ask you two questions:

Do you detest people who voted differently from yourself?

Do you avoid entering into discussions about politics when you are among people who are on the opposite side? Or alternatively, do you make deriding comments about the other side when you are with your friends, without bothering to ask yourself whether you really know how they voted in the last election?

Morris P. Fiorina has written a book entitled Moderate Voters, Polarized Parties, reviewed in the Wall Street Journal on January 6, 2018. The book describes how polarized American political parties have become, and yet how increasingly moderate and independent voters seem to be.

In reality, I would call this the New Charade of Politics, because neither description is accurate. What the author misses is this:

The parties pretend mightily and convincingly that they are pulling back and forth on a public policy tug-of-war, each trying to impress supposed "independents" and "moderates" to tip the scales in the party's favor. But in fact, the majority of Americans seem to want the same thing:  a larger and more intrusive government that benefits the voter at the expense of everyone else.

Rather than agreeing like adults to limit our state, federal, and local governments as the U.S. Constitution advocates–which limited government is meant to preserve our liberties, encourage progress, and increase our standard of living–more and more interest groups are feeding at the public troughs so conveniently provided by larger governments.

Please remember that interest groups are simply groups of people, whether they represent large corporations or themselves.

By Unknown - w:Harper's Weekly available at Library of Congress, Public Domain,

What riches or powers do those groups of individuals want our government bodies to control, so that the particular group can divide the confiscated goodies or powers among themselves? Here is a sampling, and you can probably identify the interested group yourself:

  • right to choose vs. right to life 
  • a public vs. a private health system
  • drug wars vs. liberalization
  • public land vs. private property
  • environmental protection vs. private stewardship
  • trade barriers vs. free trade
  • public safety nets vs. private charitable assistance
  • Social Security vs. private or public-private-partnership savings accounts
  • federal control of money issuance vs. private issuance
  • federal control of monetary policy vs. private banking with federally-imposed standards and competition-imposed results
  • over-indebtedness and “too big to fail” vs. sound money, realistic credit expansion, and creative destruction through corporate responsibility
  • public vs. private education
  • public utilities vs. private suppliers or public-private partnerships
  • public financing of the arts vs. private and charitable-foundation choice
  • complication vs. simplification of tax codes
  • and perhaps soon, censorship vs. free speech
The list of such issues goes on and on. Just as an example of how big our federal government has become, I'll quote my own comment in response to Mr. Fiorina:

"A Library of Congress web page listing government branch websites says it succinctly: 'With the time we have available, it is not possible to list every department agency.'"

In all cases, people on the left and people on the right have a vested interest in the decisions our governments make on each and every issue. The more subjects within government purview, the more the groups stand to gain. 

So instead of everyone voting to allow each other the freedom to resolve privately the issues that concern each of us to different degrees, people on both sides of the spectrum vote for a government that confiscates our freedom, takes over jurisdiction, and redistributes the power and/or riches to one side or the other. And the side changes every few years, just to keep the party rolling for those bureaucrats who are the most wily participants in this charade, since they win no matter which side is gaining.

The winning side feels vindicated for a while; but over the long term everyone loses. The whole nation becomes increasingly lackluster, unproductive, downtrodden, depressed, repressed, uncreative, and frustrated, no longer master of his or her own destiny. We all become less free and less valuable to our fellow citizens as this unhealthy cancerous growth evolves. 

Voters, take heed.

For those who are interested, here is my reply to Mr. Fiorina:

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