Not a Dime's Worth of Difference
by Laurence M. Vance
by Laurence M. Vance
Not only is there not a "dime's worth of difference" between the Democratic and Republican Parties when it comes to just about anything, there is certainly no difference at all when it comes to increased federal spending, the expansion of government power, the destruction of liberty, and interventionism in general, both at home and abroad.
One quick way to see this is "The Freedom Index," published about every six months by The New American magazine. This index, which used to be called "The Conservative Index," rates Congressman "based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements." The higher the number, the stronger is a congressman's commitment to these constitutional principles.
The latest "Freedom Index," which looks at the 110th Congress, has just been released. The average score in the House was a 40; the average score in the Senate was a 38. This is just as one would expect since both houses of the 110th Congress are controlled by the Democratic Party. In the Senate, there are 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and 2 Independents who are Democrats in all but the name. In the House, there are 231 Democrats, 202 Republicans, and 2 vacancies.
But how does this compare with the 109th Congress, which was controlled by the Republicans? The party division in the Senate for the 109th Congress was 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats, and 1 Independent. The party division in the House for the 109th Congress began as 233 Republicans, 202 Democrats, and 1 Independent. When the 109th Congress ended, there were 229 Republicans, 202 Democrats, 1 Independent, and 3 vacancies. The average score in the Senate for the 109th Congress was 35.5, based on the four times The New American complied "The Conservative Index" for the 109th Congress. The average score in the House was 37.5, again, based on the four times The New American complied "The Conservative Index" for the 109th Congress.
This means that the average score is higher for the Democratic-controlled 110th Congress than it was for the Republican-controlled 109th Congress. Barely half of the Republican members of the current House scored above a 50. And the Republican Party is the party of conservatism?
Admittedly, "The Freedom Index" is not a comprehensive analysis of the voting patterns of each member of Congress, but if we look at a key piece of legislation where we would expect a conservative/liberal divide, it is clear that the Republican Party is not the party of real conservatism at all.
The 110th Congress had barely begun in January when an attempt to raise the minimum wage was undertaken. H.R. 2 passed in the House by a vote of 315-116. All the Democrats voted for it, which means that it didn't need any Republican votes to pass. So what did the Republicans in the House do? Eight-two Republicans voted for it anyway. When the bill was sent to the Senate, only three Republican senators voted against it.
The only real conservative in Congress in the Old Right sense is Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who scored a perfect 100 on the index in both the 109th and 110th Congresses. (I should note, though, that those on the Old Right didn't call themselves conservatives.)
For the liberty-loving American who wishes that Congress would at least try to follow the (admittedly imperfect) Constitution, the Republican Party is not an alternative to the Democratic Party. They are two peas in a pod; they are two sides of the same coin; they are the two faces of Janus. Yet, in the typical election, millions of "conservative" Americans will vote Republican (especially if Hillary is the Democratic nominee) because they see the Republican Party as the lesser of two evils instead of the party of the interventionist welfare/warfare state — just like the Democratic Party.
A more compassionate militarism, interventionism, and statism: Vote Republican.
August 24, 2007
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from Pensacola, FL. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State. His latest publication is War, Foreign Policy, and the Church. Visit his website.
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