When business does bad, we blame the government. When government does good it is largely ignored.
Americans have always had a healthy distrust for corrupt government. In fact this is the reason for limited terms in office. It is the very point behind elections. By allowing the people to actively choose their government every two years, by allowing the people to remove the corrupt and replace them with good people we hold corruption in government in check.
If our government is inherently bad, then what is this America that right wing patriots love so deeply? Our government is a reflection of ourselves, it is a reflection of America. If our government is corrupt, if our government is failing isn’t it because of the failure of us as Americans? Our government is more than a reflection of us, our government is us.
We constantly hear about the great burdens of taxes. We hear about our government, our leftist government, taking our rights away. Yet it is policies put in place by republican administrations that more frequently do so. We hear about the burdens of regulations and government intervention preventing businesses from growing the economy. We hear about how we can’t compete because of these burdens. We hear about redistribution of wealth to the poor. We hear the right talk about reducing the size of government to help us all, while the left only wants to grow government. Government deficits are killing our country, and the problem is because the left wants to spend, spend, spend.
The problem is that every single one of these ideas, while compelling in their appeal, is false.
Taxes are at historically low rates. Not much more needs to be said.
Our Rights & Freedoms
If we just take time to look at the facts, it quickly becomes clear that the most significant attack on our rights comes from the right. They want to remove a woman’s right to have control over her own body. They want to remove a whole series of rights through the Patriot Act that protect you from invasion of privacy and unnecessary search and seizure. They want to diminish your rights as a citizen by extending those rights to corporations .
If regulations are a concern then encourage business to act ethically.
Now you may be thinking that this idea is overly simplistic, but if business were to act ethically we wouldn’t need regulation. If they fail to do so, then the government, the representative of the people must act. Failure to regulate would be a failure to uphold the very serious obligations of the government to protect the people and their rights.
Redistribution of wealth it turns out is true. The problem is that the wealth is not being redistributed to the poor as the populist rage would have you believe. If you look at the numbers the redistribution of wealth over the last 40 years has been only upwards. Middle class salaries are at an all time low, debt is at an all time high, and the wealthy have continued to gain a larger and larger portion of the overall wealth of our country. Yet we constantly hear the voices on the right lamenting the unequal share that the poor of this nation receive.
Size of Government
Government is too large and we hear again and again that the left is to blame, yet the only administration since World War II to reduce the size of government was the Clinton administration. Government now is the same size it was under Ronald Reagan. In fact, the size of our government as a percentage of GDP is roughly half the size of other developed nations. In fact any recent increases in the size and scope of government have come from republicans like those in the Bush administration, not from the left.
Finally we find ourselves in a very threatening situation where the right is promoting the notion that we need to make very serious budget cuts because of the deficit. The right repeats again and again that the source of our problem is on the left. It is the left’s uncontrolled spending habits that have brought us to the brink of financial ruin. Yet they fail to mention that the deficit is the product of the spending by the right. Under the democratic Clinton administration we actually had a surplus. Under Obama, if we remove the spending carried forward from the Bush administration we again have a surplus. Only after giving enormous tax cuts to the rich and fighting two wars, one of which was completely unnecessary, do we find ourselves with such a huge deficit. Combine that with a good dose of failure of business ethics and we find ourselves with an enormous and growing debt.
The GOP solution is to talk loud and say nothing. They yell for more of the same while denying the true causes of the problem and thereby ignoring the true solutions. More tax cuts, more war, more laissez faire business. We all must suffer. The least amongst us must suffer the most. Our middle class must bear the largest burden as we cut services and budgets. All the while we continue to redistribute wealth up from the bottom to the very very wealthy at the top.
True conservatives have true fiscal restraint. What we have seen in recent decades is not true conservatism. In our nation’s history we have seen true conservatives work for the good of our poor and middle class. We have seen conservatives fight for the environment. We have seen conservatives defend a woman's right to choose. We have seen conservatives raise taxes. Those voices can no longer be heard because they have been beaten down by the new extremist voices of the right.
How Did We Get Here And What Can Be Done?
If our government is failed then we as a people have failed. No small portion of that blame falls on the left. For the last several decades the left has failed to vigorously oppose the propaganda of the right. In fact, we have legitimized this nonsense by moving to the right ourselves.
The left must fight these lies, if we don't, who will? The left must demonstrate the facts that refute the platitudes of the right's populist rage. Their rhetoric, while bankrupt of fact is well constructed, it sounds thoroughly convincing in a stump speech. Until the left stands up and presents an equally compelling fact based case, we'll only get more of the same. More extremism, more head in the sand rhetoric, more of the worst in us.
Our government is and always will be at it’s best when we have voices from various parts of the political spectrum in opposition. Our government is failing because on the conservative side their numbers dwindle as they lose ground within their own party to extremists. On the left we move right and we keep politely yielding ground to false arguments, rather than having real conversations about real subjects with real Americans.
So long as the left continues to allow the faux arguments from the modern right to drive the debate, our government and our nation will continue on it’s current course away from the people, headlong to benefitting only the wealthy and corporate interests. Our national focus on quarterly profits today is robbing us of our national inheritance tomorrow.
Is it so much to ask “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Is it so much to ask that such a government focus on our national interests, on the interests of the people? So many of our problems are truly solvable. We know the origins of the problems and in most cases we know the solution. But our new government of influence largely responds only to campaign contributors, lobbyists and special interests. How much longer will "we the people" allow our government the luxury of refusing to act in our interests? Only when we engage in the process, only when we require good candidates and in turn good governance in exchange for our votes can any of this change.