May 1, 2006
Party Abominations: Who Are YouBy Noel Sheppard
It's May 2006...do you know who your party is? Not that easy to tell anymore, is it?
After all, if you're a Republican, your representatives have increased federal spending by an amazing 45 percent in the past five years — something you might support for its Keynesian stimulus, or just tacitly accept — while enacting the largest increase to an entitlement program in almost four decades — something you may have supported to help your president's re—election chances even though entitlement programs are against everything your party stands for.
Of course, if you're a Democrat, your faithful voted for a war resolution against a country that didn't attack America — something you were for at the time, but, like most of your elected officials, now fervently avow you were duped! — while voting against enacting one of the largest increases to an entitlement program in almost four decades — something you were against at the time even though entitlement programs are the bread and butter of your party and one of the reasons you've remained a Democrat all these years.
'And the beards have all grown longer overnight!'
Welcome to America's major political parties in the new millennium: neither stands for what they did two decades ago; both stand for virtually nothing you can hang your hat on today. At the very least, you'd think all this political cross—dressing would have resulted in a newfound unity breaking out all over. You'd be wrong.
Instead, the polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans are disappointed with the president's performance, while a virtually identical percentage believes the nation is on the wrong track. And, there's an even greater disrespect for legislators than the president regardless of which side of the aisle they sit.
'There's nothing in the streets, looks any different to me.'
Assessing blame for this political disharmony is also divided along party lines. If you're a Democrat, you believe the culprit is George W. Bush. After all, he campaigned on being a uniter, not a divider...or, was that a decider? I forget.
Whatever, this presupposes that we were all getting along so well before Bush was elected, and conveniently ignores the contentious late '90s that included an impeachment proceeding and the public evisceration and subsequent resignations of two House Speakers.
Ah...the good old days.
Yet, if you're a Republican, you perceive the catalyst for all this disunity is Democrats that have made it a goal to obstruct all legislation and obfuscate policy discussions with the help of their mainstream media minions while blaming the world's problems real or imagined on Republicans in the cynical hope that the electorate is gullible enough to buy it and vote Democrats back into power some time before Armageddon.
'We'll be fighting in the streets, with our children at our feet.'
Unfortunately, most Americans on both sides of the aisle don't realize that the answer is significantly more complicated than this, and that they've been duped into participating in a political cold war in which they are the pawns in a game of chess that they can't win.
After all, this current caustic condition is by no means an accident. Irrespective of polls indicating voter distaste for negative campaigning, the fact remains that the more mud you sling at your opponent that sticks, the more likely you are to attain, retain or regain power depending on what position you're currently in.
'And the men who spurred us on sit in judgment of all wrong.'
To attempt to sate their hopelessly insatiable lust for power, both sides have figured out an extraordinarily diabolical scheme for political success: victory by addition and subtraction.
Here's how it works: in any given precinct, each party knows approximately what percentage of registered voters will likely cast favorable ballots for both parties. In order to increase their own percentages, each party needs to raise the number of folks that hate the other party so much that they can predictably add to their base. And, each party also hopes to evoke enough hatred as to convert some of the other party's faithful into frustrated nonparticipants thereby reducing its base.
'Take a bow for the new revolution.'
Now, to make this all work, both sides need the assistance of their media minions. So, on a daily basis, the liberal and conservative media go out armed with their talking points to besmirch their political opponents. And, the public, pining for information that supports their dogma, believe virtually every ad hominem attack they hear.
'Though I know that the hypnotized never lie.'
Which leaves America figuratively closer to a civil war than Iraq, and conceivably on the precipice of total political collapse. After all, recent events dictate that major problems facing our nation can't be solved by our federal government if both sides let politics consistently trump policy.
Take for example Social Security reform in 2005: regardless of the solutions proposed by the right, any person in America that can successfully add one plus one has to understand that the calculus of this program fails as the baby boomers retire. Anybody asserting the contrary is not mathematically qualified to govern or vote.
Yet, the left in 2005, armed with their misinforming media minions, convinced a large enough percentage of the gullible that one plus one equals three, and that there is, therefore, no looming crisis. As a result, the right was forced to take this problem off of the table, and any serious discussion on this issue has been shelved for many years thereby reducing our options when it finally resurfaces.
'I'll tip my hat to the new constitution.'
Similar political hamstringing occurred this year over Dubai Ports World and illegal immigration resulting in further examples of a failing political system. Today, this same policy paralysis is evident as April ushered in a wave of finger—pointing over rising energy prices, and the media followed their political leaders into the battlefield.
In a predictable circle the wagons motif, the left and the drive by media have been shamefully blaming the president for today's gas prices even though this problem started in 1973, and no president or Congress — be it Republican or Democrat — has effectively dealt with it since.
However, the conservative media hasn't been innocent either. As gasoline prices spiral upward, too many seek to hang blame on failed policies by Democrats and environmentalists, which may be true, but which doesn't move us closer to a solution. Political gamesmanship that does not advance a policy to solve a problem is exactly our problem.
'And the world looks just the same, and history ain't changed.'
Welcome to politics in the new millennium: both parties, their media representatives, and their constituents are singularly focused on attaining, regaining, or retaining power with total disregard for solving America's problems — even the ones that government itself has caused.
And, yes, we Americans are part of the problem, too.
When registered Democrats support candidates — including presidential candidates — who blame Congressional votes in favor of a war resolution on somebody else because it helps said candidates' political futures, they have become part of the problem.
When registered Republicans support an increase in Medicare spending because they think it will help their president get re—elected, they have become part of the problem.
As such, the electorate is now acting like what it finds abhorrent: supporting policies that go counter to ideology for the benefit of party.
This begets a condition whereby it is quite unlikely that significant policies will be enacted to address the problems facing our nation today such as Iran, Iraq, illegal immigration, and rising energy prices.
Even more troubling, it appears totally inconceivable that the current political structure will be capable of solving the looming crises of Social Security, Medicare, and any other problems that come down the pike.
'Then I'll get on my knees and pray...We don't get fooled again.'
Noel Sheppard is an economist, business owner, and contributing writer to the Free Market Project. He is also contributing editor for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org. Noel welcomes feedback.