Is a GOP agent secretly running the Democratic party? Not likely. What’s really at work is ideological bankruptcy. The Democrats have no ideas worthy of national attention. Their only use is as an opposition party, and that’s exactly what they are going to remain after the next election.
The only people who seem to want Democrats running us at the national level are those who live off the wealth of others. And they, thank goodness, do not make up a majority of voters. The dreadful downside is that we are left with Republicans running the country at a time when we ought to be prying their fingers from the levers of power.
So what occasions this outburst? One word: taxes. It seems that the Democrats want to raise them, which is to say, repeal the paltry cuts put in by Bush. What is with these people? Can’t they see the downside to running on a platform consisting of the demand that you should be forced to fork over more of the money you earn to the state?
Why do these people want to criminalize the making and keeping of money? And, even more preposterously, why do they believe that doing so will make them electable?
Maybe a hundred years ago, someone genuinely believed that a higher tax was going to do great good for the country. Not today. Those who believe that now are merely drumming up an excuse to live off the earnings of others. Everyone knows that. There will always be politicians who cater to such interests, but they are local and sectarian. National politicians have to come up with some other rationale for stealing: wars, for example.
Why can’t the Democrats understand this? Because the party eschews the genuine liberal tradition. Consider that every one of the candidates running for the presidential nomination agrees that Bush’s tax program must be reversed. How pathetic. Bush’s tax program was a hoax in so many ways: it gave with one hand (Treasury Department) what it took in others ways (debt, regulation, and dollar depreciation). But to call for its reversal amounts to a call to rob us even more. It is to place unlimited faith in the state and brag about it.
Genuine liberalism sees that a free and orderly society rests on the right to private property and the prevalence of private capital accumulation. Private enterprise is the basis of prosperity, and there’s no quicker path to ruin than enlarging the state. If you don’t know these things, you haven’t been paying attention to world developments for a long time. Apparently the Democrats haven’t.
The Wesley Clark campaign initially fired up the masses, but is now stuck in the doldrums. Maybe that has to do with his comments, made when everyone was paying attention to him, to the effect that new government regulations are the magic bullet to cure what ails us. A further look at his agenda reveals no more imagination: mandates, taxes, welfare, spending of all sorts, and centralization.
He is like all these birds. They look great from a distance, but awful up close. Not even on war are they much better. They say that allies should pay more, that the Iraq occupation needs more of a civilian emphasis, that we need to build public schools there, and the like. These are arguments over details and amount to a concession that Bush was right to pick the fight and pummel that poor country. If you can’t count on Democrats to oppose war, they aren’t good for much at all.
Howard Dean? He seems like a maverick who is standing up to bigshots, but look up close and you find more of the same. He is a partisan of government, which is to say a partisan of power, which is to say that he wants to make more and more voluntarily chosen capitalistic activities illegal. Has he even bothered to think through this position, or, by now, is it just a reflex?
Now, experience tells us that in practice, Democrats actually spend and regulate less than the GOP. They are less protectionist and less warlike. The government grows less when the Democrats are in control. There was a hint in the 90s, under the influence of Clinton, that the Democrats were just starting to see this as a virtue and not apologize for it. Indeed, Gore took steps toward actually criticizing government from time to time. Amazing.
But that was then and this is now. They are back to publicly conspiring to increase government control over our lives. They accuse the Republicans of cutting the budget and the Repubs hit that one out of the park by pointing out that they expanded more than the Democrats. So on it goes on issue after issue, enabling hypocritical Republicans and making idiots of themselves.
The worst of it is that this virtually guarantees another four years of Bush, which means that we are going to get even more statism than the Democrats promise, but in the name of liberty and limited government. This strikes me as the worst of all worlds: freedom declines in real time even as freedom itself gets the blame. How much better to preserve freedom longer even if in the name of government control.
What the Democrats need is a wholesale ideological gutting. They need to purge all anti-liberal sentiment in their party. They need to embrace their 19th-century heritage of opposing: centralization, protectionism, war, and government control. They need to slough off all the myriad hangers-on that cling to the party for their lifeblood, and instead embrace the entrepreneurial and middle classes, even the privately rich, as their base. This is the only way that they are going to do good for themselves and the country.
Will this happen? Not likely. But the alternative is to continue to wallow in its present overt statism, which, just about everyone understands, means more power over people, more relative impoverishment, and, worst of all, more GOP control of the country and the world. Never has dramatic ideological change been more of a moral priority.
In sum: Democrats need to shape up and fast. Let us hear no more about how you are going to fix the country with more taxes, more regulations, more spending. Get wise and warm up to the idea of freedom. Only then will you be in a position to tell the truth about how Republicans are wrecking the world. Only then will you find yourselves in a position to do anything about it.