Wednesday, August 11, 2004

It's Really About the Money

My younger (there's nothing "little" about either one of us! ;->) brother and Dr. Shackleford (mypetjawa) are having a little mini-debate in which they agree to disagree on a few points. The basic premise is that both of them support Bush, but for slightly varying reasons. My two cents:

Modern politics is really about the money. As it was explained to me in one of my rare appearances in a high school civics class, the difference between "Republican" and "Democrat" is "money." In other words, if you want your money to support social programs that create huge, bloated bureaucracies, you're likely to be a Democrat. Conversely, if you'd rather have your money support tax relief for the wealthy and wasteful defense programs that create huge, bloated bureaucracies, you're likely to be a Republican.

The funny thing is, the social talking points that Cam and Rusty hit upon really have nothing to do with whether one is a Rep, Dem, Lib, or other. True, liberals tend to be Dems, tend to support abortion, and would love to have a legalized puff of a roll-yer-own joint. Equally true would be that conservatives tend to be Reps, tend to eschew abortion in most (if not all) of its forms, and would love to see marriage between a man and a woman remain sacrosanct in this country.

But these things are not, and never have been, universally true.

I think the first taste of this truth I got was a brief conversation with Dad a few years before he died, probably early on in his retirement. I was taking a history class at the local college, and we were to debate the issue of gun control in class. Since I was the lone conservative old-fogey voice in a class of 30 or so young adults, it naturally fell to me to argue against gun control. Take the NRA position, in other words.

When I discussed this with Dad one night, however, I was shocked to learn that my dyed-in-the-wool, hard-line conservative Republican father was actually leaning in favor of taking away the handguns. This caught me completely off guard. In previous conversations on such issues (and such conversations were preciously rare), Dad had always come across as toeing the party line.

It didn't happen right away, but I've since begun to understand where Dad was coming from. His perspective as a man of years showed how opinions can evolve over time based on our experiences. Having witnessed decades of war, crime, intolerance, and terrorism on local and global scales, he had finally decided that perhaps, just perhaps, the anti-gun lobbyists had a point. Maybe there really is some merit to removing handguns from the world consciousness. Maybe things would calm down a bit if we could do that. Sure would make the world a bit easier on my kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. This, I think, was probably his train of thought.

Let's face it guys: When it comes to socio-political issues like abortion, legalizing of drugs and/or prostitution, and even gay marriage, the man we place in the Oval Office has relatively little to do with how this country will ultimately position itself. Congress or state legislators have more direct control over these issues. A President can only appoint himself as a spokesman for or against a cause, and can only legislate by exercising his power of veto. Even then, he can be overridden.

It is really only as Commander In Chief that the President can get directly involved in how a conflict is resolved. Otherwise, for all intents and purposes, the President becomes little more than a figurehead. Can he still lead by example? Certainly, and he should. Witness the "example" of Clinton and his amoral approach to defining "sexual relations." That kind of "leadership" this country doesn't need. In the long run, money simply cannot buy the kind of leadership needed to fill our current vacuum.

The bottom line? We need political leaders who are less about the money (and where it's spent), and more about exemplifying the kinds of qualities that can truly make this country great: Integrity; honesty; prudence; virtue.

So where are we gonna get that kind of money?


Cameron said...


In fact, I do have a few "liberal" quirks myself, but not nearly enough that I'm willing to ditch the Republican party. As I say, for me there is only one issue driving my vote this year, and, when it comes to the War on Terror, the man we put in office has pretty much everything to do with how we will approach the war.

For your main point, though, I must politely disagree. Perhap your point has been valid historically, but this election feels different, and not just because it's the first one I'm paying actual attention to. When we consider how the Left has positioned itself during the last 40 years to push its agenda - just look at the judges - well, let me put it another way:

If it can be argued, as it has been elsewhere, that the 2000 election didn't carry a particular mandate for either candidate, then this election most certainly does carry a mandate as we are facing an ideological war that has two fronts, one abroad against religious nuts, and one at home against anti-religious nuts. Whether he likes it or not (and I suspect he doesn't care one way or the other), Kerry is the de facto leader of the anti-religious Left, and voting him in would actually legitimize the Left's agenda.

That's how I see it, but I have never denied that I am possibly a nut myself.

Woody said...

Actually, there would be a difference even between "perceived" mandates, and "real" mandates nowadays. The perception this year is that, yes, the war on terror IS the issue, and that whoever ends up in office will have to deal with it - hopefully effectively. "Real" mandates, on the other hand, are becoming increasingly rare. This is the kind of mandate where voters overwhelmingly put someone in office precisely because that person won on some issue or other. When Reagan took office, the mandate said something like, "No, we aren't better off than we were four years ago. Fix it." Hence my argument that there was no real mandate to arise from the 2000 election. (I may be guilty of over-simplification here.)

I can still make the case that "liberal vs. conservative" is not necessarily the same as "Democrat vs. Republican." In fact, as far as politics are concerned, the original scale to which the Founders worked was where to place the power to govern. The Founders, in creating the Constitution, made it plain that the greater portion of power in this country was to remain with the people and the states. The federal government was to have little power. The political scale of the day indicated that you were either for keeping the power base with the people and states, or giving more power to the federals.

We, unfortunately, have continually granted to the federal government more and more power until today we would find it nearly impossible to reverse the trend. That's why modern politics is still all about money. That's the power that we've given the feds, and will probably never see returned to us in our lifetimes.