Tuesday, August 09, 2005

We Three Myths

I'll bet you're not as Republican as you think.

I don't consider myself a smart guy. Hell, I haven't even figured out how to get this month's parking pass for my parking garage. So, if I can see cause and effect relationships, or illogical rhetoric, anyone can. Let's look at the Republican party.

For years the Republicans have been running on a few tried-and-true platforms: small government, Christian values, and national security. There's no question that these three topics are what Bush used to get elected in both 2000 and 2004.

The myth of Republicans for small government is that the Republicans are in favor of small government. This is true if you believe--as many do--that a president who never vetoes a spending bill and turns a budget surplus into a deficit is really in favor of small government. This also mirrors Reagan's small government policy of ballooning the deficit with run-away spending. He was wildly successful. I can also see how it can also be easy to be fooled by a political party that wants to intervene in the most personal matters of your life--in the bedroom, in the hospital, in your church--also claiming to be in favor of small government.

The myth of Republicans for Christian values is also confusing. It seems pious to tell people how to live their lives and how to relate to God, but this is contrary to how Jesus conducted his business. In fact, he was most upset at the pious religious leaders of his generation, not the people who wanted to be left alone. If you believe that Jesus was the son of God, then it must also follow that he had the power to convert anyone by force, even for their own good, and he did not. So, why some Republicans, and some religious leaders want to try to do the same thing through the government is beyond me. Not to mention how can a political party claim to be in favor of Christian values and not be in favor of universal health care, supporting social security, and helping families and the poor?

The myth of Republicans being better at national security claims that walking loudly and thrashing your way through foreign relations keeps America safer. No one wants a wimp like Clinton and his bombing campaigns in Kosavo when you can have full-scale warfare with embedded journalist pumped into your living room every night. That has to give you a warm fuzzy for our national security when you tuck your kids in at night. Currently we have 140,000 troops in Iraq, sent there to keep WMDs out of terrorist hands. Meanwhile Iran, right next door, is openly working on nuclear weapons. Of course, we're impotent to do anything about it other than rattle our sabers. North Korea has also boasted nuclear capability. Sure, the Bush administration labeled these three countries the "axis of evil" but it takes more than tough talk and wild swings to keep America safe. The latest terrorist attacks in London are proof that terrorism is on the march as well. And, where's Osama anyway?

Personal opinion about current and previous presidents aside, clearly the Republicans are in favor of large and intrusive government, Pharisaic values, and inept defensive measures. I realize this is a paradigm shift for a lot of people who--perhaps up to this moment--thought exactly the opposite. It's kind of like find out that your parents are fallible. That's ok, give it a moment. You'll probably then realize that you're not really a conservative, but a liberal. You're probably not in the pocket of big business, but someone who wants what paying taxes should entitle them to: education, health care, and responsible government. You're probably not really a fundamentalist, but perhaps a reasonable person, a Christian who wants everyone to have a fair chance to live a life free from fighting for basic needs. Besides, who in their right mind is in favor of out-of-control spending, religious theocracy, and 1800 dead Americans to free Iraq while rogue nations develop WMDs and Osama is a free man?

To think of what the $400 billion we've shelled out in Iraq could have been used for is sickening. A party in-favor of Christian values surely could have spent that money on health care, and inner-cities, and families, and education. A party in favor of smaller government certainly would have maintained a budget surplus (created by a Democrat named Clinton). A party keeping America safe certainly wouldn't have started another Vietnam-style venture while American-hating terrorists are being trained. Why do only large corporations and Christian fundamentalists seem to benefit from the White House? Probably because those are the only people whose interests the White House has in mind.

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