Gandhi was asked, “What do you think of Western civilization?”
“I think it would be a good idea,” he replied. ~ CBS News Special, “The Italians”
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” ~ Lord Acton
I have been a registered Democrat for 31 years and not once have I heard a fellow Democrat (or anyone else for that matter) say, “More government!”
So when David Brooks writes in the New York Times, “For the past 80 years that debate has been about the size of government — Republicans for less government and more market and Democrats for more government and less market,” it is tantamount to someone saying, “Republicans are against same-sex marriage and thus homophobic… or Republicans are against equal opportunity for minorities and thus racist.”
Democrats, like all civilized people, are for EFFICIENT government. The size of government is secondary to its purpose according to the preamble of our Constitution to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
Secondly, a truly “free market” is when you offer to sell me a carrot, I kill you, and take the carrot. That would be a free market without any rules or regulations. However, in Western civilization we have regulations prohibiting murder and thievery. The problem is that once people taste power they tend to support rules and regulations that benefit themselves rather than protect the rights, freedoms and opportunities of everyone else. Power corrupts.
Thirdly, reframing the coming political realignment, as Mister Brooks suggests, from government size to open markets is misguided. The real debate is between the white male hegemony and everyone who is tired of being oppressed, exploited, cheated, enslaved, raped, bombed, pillaged and murdered.
Fourthly, like all people in power, Mister Brooks is exceptionally skilled at finding facts to rise to meet his theories about how reality should occur; the problem is that his choice of facts betrays him: “A study by the Peterson Institute found that past trade liberalization laws added between $7,1000 and $12,900 in additional income to the AVERAGE household.” If every billionaire earned an additional $10 billion dollars this year that would also raise the AVERAGE income. But that would not correlate with the average person’s quality of life being improved at all, or imply that anyone would be any happier or have more freedom or better opportunities. Citing a study about adding income to “average” households is ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst. Really, if you regard the larger picture it would probably mean that the rich continue to get richer and the poor continue to get poorer – the exact problem that regulations were created to alleviate.
Looking at social issues over the past 100 years – gay marriage, universal health care, public education, the legalization of marijuana, etc. – it is clear to see that conservatives are consistently on the wrong side of history, selfishly encumbering societal progress.
I assume that Mister Brooks does not appreciate someone publicly mischaracterizing him as a racist, homophobe, and ignoramus. I hope he understands how I feel when he mischaracterizes Democrats as being in favor of “more government.” I am in favor of evolving from a society based on scarcity-mentality, a society of haves and have-nots, to a more compassionate, just, tranquil, peaceful, and open civilization.
And that is where the conversation needs to begin. Not with mischaracterizations of other people’s political beliefs and self-serving distortions of the facts.