My friend Phil is a pastor in Denver. His wife Meg is a Christian counselor. Though Phil doesn’t do politics from the pulpit, he told me last week he’s strong for the GOP ticket. (Click Title)
As the growing extent and intensity of public opposition to the Obama Administration’s policies threaten to shut down its agenda, defenders of the Administration have resorted to systematic name calling. The most favored epithet is "racist." No less a personage than former President James Earl Carter last week alleged that most of the opposition to the Obama agenda is due to the President’s partly African origins. It is amazing that those same voters who cast their ballots for the President last year but are opposed to his agenda now suddenly have become transformed from public-spirited citizens into bigots.
Democrats have been calling Republicans racists for years, and it is as false as ever. It was the Republican party, after all, which brought about an end to slavery against powerful Democrat opposition. And it was the southern Democrats who maintained apartheid for a century after emancipation and who opposed civil rights legislation until President John Kennedy reluctantly supported Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s efforts to end segregation.
In fact, a greater percentage of Republicans than Democrats supported the omnibus Civil Rights Act of 1964, as such southern "liberals" as William Fulbright and Albert Gore, Sr., and former Ku Klux Klan member Robert Byrd, voted "no.".
Kennedy owed his election in the close 1960 contest to the heavy support of black voters in our largest cities, largely because he won the support of King over Republican Richard Nixon. This came at an opportune time, for growing numbers of suburban dwellers were supporting the Republican party.
In spite of the long history of Democrat racism, party leaders seized upon the opposition to the civil rights bill of the 1964 Republican presidential nominee, Sen. Barry Goldwater. Goldwater had a history of opposition to segregation in his home state of Arizona, having desegregated the National Guard. But he believed that the Constitution prohibited the federal government from regulating matters of state jurisdiction.
That vote won Goldwater only five southern states plus Arizona, as he lost to Lyndon Johnson in a landslide. But his opposition to the civil rights bill was enough to earn the racist tag for his party. When Richard Nixon picked a border state governor as his running mate in 1968, enabling him to win several southern states in a very close election, the racist tag stuck.
It is too bad that, in retrospect, Goldwater’s worst fears were vindicated, as the Great Society corrupted the principle of equality from opportunity to entitlement, with affirmative action, goals and timetables and even racial quotas–racial discrimination in reverse.
The same Lyndon Johnson who, as Senate majority leader in the 1950s watered down Republican-sponsored civil rights legislation, became a "born again" civil rights advocate when the electoral needs of his party dictated the shift. But the shocking–and revealing–fact is that there was no change in principle. Whereas Democrat racism once took the form of favoritism for whites, it easily slid over to favoritism for members of racial minorities.
As former President George W. Bush put it one of his 2000 campaign speeches, the Democrats now preach "the soft bigotry of low expectations." Instead of keeping blacks down by denying them the opportunity to advance of their own merits, Democrats now favor hiring or promoting employees, or admitting students, on the basis of their race or ethnicity.
In what black journalist and author Star Parker identifies as the "government plantation," having what used to be called in the slave and segregated South "one drop of Negro blood" makes all the difference. What previously closed doors for millions now opens them.
But it is a trap. Unearned advantages antagonize those losing out, even as the fact of favoritism is not lost on the supposed beneficiaries. "Soft bigotry" benefits only those who, like the slave masters and racists of old, determine who wins and who loses. The modern bureaucratic state, once thought to be based on merit, now teaches us every day that race trumps character.
When Democrats call their critics "racists," they are engaging in what psychologists identify as "projection." Painfully aware of their racist history, Democrats convince themselves that in their current pose as the friend of racial minorities they alone can be trusted with political power. They imagine that Republicans, who do not pose as friends but actually support equal rights, must be racists too unenlightened to appreciate Democrats’ allegedly good intentions.
Democrats believe that if they call Republicans racists long enough the people will forget about slavery and segregation. But the existence of the race-based government plantation gives the whole show away. Race is the Democrat calling card.
Local elections this fall for school boards and municipal offices (the ones that haven't been canceled for lack of interest) occur in a fog of nonpartisan obscurity. In my Denver Post column this week, I likened the voter's dilemma, absent Republican and Democratic tags to help identify the local candidates, to guessing on unlabeled canned goods at the food bank. The column cited Cherry Creek schools and the city of Centennial, where I reside, as typical cases -- but space didn't allow for specifics. So here are a few of them.
The other day in our neighborhood I noticed a block jammed with parked cars. They belonged to guests at a candidate coffee for John Flerlage, the Democrat hoping to unseat Congressman Mike Coffman next year. His banner adorned the home of Centennial Ward III councilman Patrick Anderson, an activist Democrat who was able to get elected in our heavily Republican area because the ballot allows for no party ID.
Anderson's wife is Jennifer Herrera, who ran for Cherry Creek school board in 2007. She was unhappy with me for distributing an email identifying her as a registered Democrat and Jim O'Brien, the eventual winner, as a Republican.
Jennifer Herrera's brother is Justin Herrera, another Democrat who resides at the same address and ran last year for RTD Board -- nonpartisan again, do you start to see a pattern? The union-backed Herrera lost to Republican Jack O'Boyle, and I again did my bit for open government by noting their respective party identities in a mass email.
My popularity with those good folks no doubt sank lower as a result, and it may go lower still with this blog post. But come on, people, what do you have against sunshine? Are you ashamed of your political party? You want an informed electorate, don't you?
The other council seat here in Ward III is held by the ostensibly nonpartisan Rebecca McClellan. She too is an avid Democrat, having been Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman for Arapahoe County in 2008. As McClellan runs for another term this fall, incumbency will be on her side. Republican challenger Cindy Combs will have the handicap of no party labels on the ballot to guide a GOP-heavy electorate in her direction.
One more example from my idealistic little suburb, where "politics were going to be different" according to the civic founders who incorporated us in 2000, and where I once got in hot water even with fellow Republicans (naive souls) for "soiling" the process with one of my who's-who partisan email slates during campaign season...
This example is Centennial Ward I -- a midterm vacancy contest now occurring between Ron Phelps and Vorry Moon. The nonpartisan gag rule under state law prevents voters from readily knowing that Phelps is with the GOP while Moon is a leading Democrat, chairman of his party's organization in House District 37 where Dems are targeting state Rep. Spencer Swalm.
All that voters will know about Vorry Moon is his previous council service in Centennial, prior to losing a second-term bid to Betty Ann Habig in 2007, and that resume' entry with its accompanying name identification gives him an advantage when the low-profile mail ballot comes out next month.
An unfair advantage in the larger scheme of things, it seems to me -- if we really care about the competitive, accountable elections and governance that two-party politics excels at providing.
The greatest single weapon in the Democratic Party’s arsenal has been its ability to confuse the voters. Even though it has practically defined itself since the 1930s as the party of Big Government, with high taxes and spending, massive regulation and intervention, and continual encroachment on private property, its leaders and spokesmen have vehemently denied that their policies amount to socialism. But why? Is socialism such a bad thing? Maybe not if you advocate socialistic policies, but maybe so if calling something by its right name will antagonize the voters and lose their support. That’s been the predicament of the Democrats as they consistently seek to solve real or imaginary problems with government programs and income redistribution, rather than abiding by the Constitution’s protections for free trade and commerce.
There’s no point in trying to pin the socialistic tail on the Democratic donkey when the donkey disowns it. Better to define our terms and decide the question based on the relevant principles and salient facts, rather than accusations or denials.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines socialism as follows: 1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
Governmental ownership of production and distribution of goods rather than private property, then, is the essence of socialism. This contrasts with the limited government and largely unfettered trade and commerce by individuals and corporations that have distinguished the United States of America.
How then do we understand the Obama Administration’s takeover of banks and other financial institutions, automobile companies and the current proposal to take over the health insurance industry? Plainly, these are all socialistic measures, not just because Republicans say so but because they are examples of what socialism is.
In Europe, where nationalized health care has long been in effect, along with nationalized heavy industry and mining, socialism is more "advanced" than in the United States. When President Obama says that he wants to "transform" America, following the European model is what he has in mind.
Socialists here and in Europe are not enemies of government by the people, or at least they have no intention of replacing it with any sort of dictatorship. During the many decades that they have promoted socialism, they have been at great pains to distinguish themselves from Marxists, who have advocated violent overthrow of so-called "bourgeois" (middle class) democracies and replacement by the "dictatorship of the proletariat."
The difference has turned on very different evaluations of modern democratic government. The Marxists believe that western democracies are a sham, allegedly dominated by the evil capitalists who manipulate the people by money and influence. These corporate chieftains will not, Marxists say, willingly give up their rule, so the only way to change things is through violent revolution.
Marxists have as much scorn for democratic socialists as they do capitalists for their supposedly naive belief that peaceful change is possible, if not their covert cooperation with the enemies of the people. But the democratic socialists believe that, through persuasion and effective politics, the majority can be brought around to socialism without violent revolution, and they now have several decades of success here and in other Western countries to prove it.
However, in spite of two great waves of socialism in America via the New Deal (NRA, AAA, social security) and the Great Society (war on poverty, medicare, racial quotas), and the wave now being stirred up by the Obama Administration, a majority of Americans still prefer limited government and free trade and commerce. If there is one overriding reason for this, I would maintain it is their firm belief that they retain the capacity to govern themselves.
That is why, according to recent public opinion polls, a.majority now views unfavorably the President they elected last fall. They have been shown by their harsh, bitter experience with the first few months of the new administration that the Democrats are not the political party of the little guy but of Big Government.
This emerging majority for a restoration of fundamental American principles of government may or may not be put off by Democratic denials of the party’s commitment to socialism, but they know that party stands for policies that threaten their health care, their contracts and their private property. Truly, socialism is the right name for those policies.
Last fall I shared in the disappointment of 47 percent of the voters who did not cast their ballots for Barack Obama and feared his stated intention of "transforming" America into a socialist regime. With Democrats in firm control of both houses of Congress, this seemed a likely as well as a fearful prospect. But things are looking up. This week Obama Administration officials indicated that they may abandon the so-called "public option" feature of their health care insurance proposal because of widespread and intense public opposition. This demonstrates that public opinion still counts for a great deal in our republican form of government and, indeed, is capable of doing some "transforming" of its own - - in this case, thwarting socialized health care.
Without forgetting for a moment that Obama and his fellow Democrats still control all three elective branches of the federal government, we know now that, although they can fool some of the people all of the time and even all the people some of the time, they evidently cannot fool all the people all of the time.
It is critical that we understand the explanation for this serious blow to the Obama Administration’s plans for the nation. Many Americans of both parties, and independents, and even some who have had no previous involvement in politics, were outraged that the terms and conditions of nationalized health care were so severe.
This reaction was not because of alleged "lies" by Republicans and "special interests" (doctors, hospitals, drug and insurance companies) that the government would in due course come to dominate the field and that the unprecedented costs would be covered with higher taxes and rationing, doubtless at the expense of those deemed unworthy of "extraordinary" care. That’s all true.
Way back when, we were admonished to be concerned about approximately 40 million people who lacked health insurance, but that was soon overwhelmed by the hard Democrat push for universal coverage to replace the allegedly capricious decision making of the "evil" health insurance firms.
Unfortunately for Obama and the Democrats, millions of Americans have health plans they are satisfied with. Whatever complaints they may have, they look far less favorably upon a one-size-fits-all system which, if Canada and the United Kingdom are instructive, will force people to wait for months for appointments while unsocialized dogs and cats can get theirs with veterinarians far sooner!
This is a time to be grateful for our free commerce which enables health care providers and consumers to agree to plans and payments which are mutually beneficial. Those plans are valuable properties - - private properties - - which belong to individuals and are not subject to confiscation by the government for the sake of "spreading the wealth around."
Thus, private property, the foundation of our free and profitable trade and commerce, has both taken care of the health of millions and enabled them to "speak truth to power." Americans are not mere ciphers in a soulless administrative state but self governing persons.
This is precisely what the founders of modern republican government intended with equal rights under law and immense opportunities for energetic and capable citizens to rise above mediocrity and follow their dreams.
Those same people are free to vote for representatives of their own choosing, knowing that they have the power to vote out of office any miscreants who would take away their right to govern themselves.
It is not surprising that so many people taking part in politics for possibly the first time in their lives should exhibit less polished arts of speaking and writing than those who have practiced them for many years. I remember vividly my own entry during my college years, impatient for change and wanting to be heard. Since then I have seen others go through the same sort of initiation. Experience is a great teacher and the latest entrants will learn the lessons of moderation that others have before them.
Part of that political education consists in taking the long view of things. All victories are temporary, until the next challenge comes along. However appealing the idea of term limits is, our nation needs a continual supply of citizens not only participating actively in politics but seeking public office if they have virtues to contribute to the public good.
One hopes that current as well as future political leaders will appreciate the advantages of the present fortuitous circumstances and bring more and more public-spirited people into legislative and executive campaigns and governing so that we can continue to keep the socialist wolf at bay.