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Jul 31 / thomas.krafft

Republicans and Democrats and Others, Oh My

My father is a Republican, and mom is a Democrat. You’d think this would have caused endless contention and the kinds of absolutely polarized debates that we see on the infotainment or “news” shows we watch on TV – but the opposite has always been true in our household.

As a wonderful example of the ideals of American political discourse envisioned by our founding forefathers, my parents first and foremost respected each other, they understood that everyone in the room loves America and would fight to defend our nation from any threat to Freedom. Everyone also understood that their political differences were primarily centered around economic policy. The debates were mostly about how the society would advance, and how our elected representation should fulfill their sworn Constitutional duties. There was never an issue about whether America should advance or if our Constitutional principles and ideals be upheld.

By the way, here is a reminder of our representations’ duties, in case you don’t have your copy of The Constitution nearby:

  • form a more perfect Union
  • establish Justice
  • insure domestic Tranquility
  • provide for the common defence
  • promote the general Welfare
  • secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity
Let’s start with the Republicans of my father’s generation.

For most of my father’s life, being “Republican” simply meant fiscal responsibility. Republicans simply acted as the part of our wide political spectrum that advocated limited government’s spending – not because they didn’t believe in social programs, but because they understood the simple fact that no government in history should ever be trusted with a blank checkbook. Government spends what government can spend. This has always been true, and the Republican party from around WWII through the early 1970’s felt a deep sense of duty and responsibility to keep government spending in check.

The rise, again, of Business.It is important to note however, the increasing influence of Business on Republicanism, because this becomes a very important issue within a few decades.

For most of the history of industrialized, market economies, whether through democratic or other forms of government, there have always been two primary groups vying for influence and control: Business and Labor (Labor, by the way, is only able to promote its interests in democratic societies, or by revolution in other political systems). It should be noted here that “Business” interests are typically driven by business owners – and we’re not talking about small business owners, or the people who run the corner grocery store. We’re talking about a relatively small number of the most wealthy and powerful individuals in the world.

While Republicanism embodied fiscal responsibility in support of the advancement of American society, Business interests gladly latched onto the fact that lower taxes, lower wages, and poor regulation all equate to higher profits. This has always been the primary motivation for Business involvement in any political process, and their motives have always been driven by profits – in spite of, or even in complete opposition to any advancement of the society, democracy or defence of freedom. Business does not care about society or freedom. Business cares about profits. This one of those facts that needs to be understood by all of democracy’s participants, and separated from other individual concerns.

Now, just to be clear: This is not an anti-Business rant by some tree-hugging pinko commie liberal… It’s simply a statement of fact which must be part of the consideration of any socio-economic policies. Business is like an animal that can only serve the greater good when it is tamed or held on a tight leash, like a bull that is harnessed to plow your fields… But if we allow the animal that is Business simply run loose without any restraint, it can easily destroy everything. That’s what wild animals do. This is what Business can do, as is described in the following sections.

Starting in the 1950’s, Business influence began to effect and change the Republicanism practised by average, middle Americans. Over the next 20 years or so, Business changed the focus and course of Republican political efforts towards policies that would increase business profits, often without any regard for the society. And it worked. By the 1970s and 80s, Republicans had managed to become the party of Business, without any regard, ironically, for fiscal responsibility, economic policies that that would keep America strong, helping small business owners to innovate and employ more Americans, and so forth. The only goal of the Republican Business party at that point was to help (big) Business make more profit – allowing wages to start a downward trend for the first time in 40 years, increasing working hours*, and taking every opportunity to threaten the budgets and funding for everything from public education to infrastructure and national development projects that have demonstrated clear value and benefit to society – both in terms of domestic prosperity and the international strength of the United States of America.
* Does anyone else remember one of the most popular songs from 1980, “Working 9 to 5“? It was about the typical working day of an employee in corporate America. That was just 30 years ago. Can anyone reading this post remember the last time you worked from 9am to 5pm? It’s 9 to 6 for most people, because you pay for your own lunch hour now. Add the increased commute distances (because you can’t afford a house as close to the city center anymore), and the increased traffic and congestion on the freeways (because our roadways and infrastructure hasn’t improved or expanded for most of the past 50 years), and most Americans are working from about 8am to 7pm (including commute time). What a way to make a living.
Now let’s take a look at the Democrats.
Mom is a Democrat. In accordance with her strong Christian beliefs and values, she has voted Democrat most of her life for one simple reason: It is her obligation, as a good Christian, to provide for those less fortunate. And the most effective, consistent and widespread way to achieve this in America, is to allow taxes to be used by the government in support of social (not “socialist”) programs.But Mom never gave Democrats or anyone permission to spend whatever they want, without any restraint. You see, she’s a fiscal conservative too – as are most Americans.

Will Rogers once said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat!“. This pretty much sums up the issues faced by this party today. They have no leaders, no consistent message, talking points or comprehensive platform that tells anyone exactly what they stand for. We generally believe  Democrats supported Labor at some point, but this connection hasn’t been as clear in recent decades.

In a backlash against Business starting in the 70’s, America began voting more Democrats into local, state and federal offices. And it didn’t take long for us to regret it. Regrettably, phrases like “socialist agenda” started to be used by the opposition, Republicans and their respective Business interests, to describe what was happening on the left side of the political spectrum. It’s unfortunate, because that kind of language began to slowly eat away at our civil discourse. That phrase was created by Business, like any other marketing campaign, with the goal of creating a fictitious enemy. We all love to fight enemies. It’s an effective political and marketing tool. And it’s abused more than any other marketing tactic today. Anyone who believes Democrats are pinko-commie socialists, is just plain ignorant. You’ve been duped. I urge you to wake up and pay attention. The moment anyone in America tells you someone with a different opinion should be viewed as an enemy, watch out. This is America. We have the freedom to have and express different opinions, and it’s supposed to be government’s job to balance those views which make sense, and craft legislation that does the greatest good.

Yes, Democrat politicians made plenty of mistakes back then. But it had nothing to do with any “socialist agenda”. Rather, their lack of organization or clear purpose simply allowed the bureaucratic “vehicle” of government to roll off the road, overloaded with too many programs, poorly managed and maintained, and with no one actually driving.

So what happened? The rise and fall, and rise, and fall again, of the Democrats:

Let’s start with what could be considered the “renaissance era” for the Democratic party. When the stock market crashed in 1929, everyone in America knew it was the Republicans’ fault. EVERYONE. Unlike today, Republicans simply did not possess the marketing skills that would allow them to avoid blame for the elitist policies and irresponsibility that led directly to one of the darkest periods in American history. No one escaped the Great Depression unscathed. NO ONE. Hundreds of thousands of good Americans lost everything, starved and died, for no other reason than the greed of Republican politicians.

In the those years, the Democratic party became the ONLY choice to help the country. And what did they do? They created the middle class, that’s what.

Prior to the Great Depression, America was a country with two vastly separated social classes. There were a few wealthy elite who controlled all politics and policy, and everyone else struggled every day to simply live, work and support their families. There were no social programs whatsoever, no unemployment insurance, no retirement plans, pensions or Security Security. There were virtually no labor laws, and it was common to find 8 or 9 year old children working in dangerous mines and manufacturing plants, taking home whatever wages the company owners felt inclined to pay on any given day, if they paid at all. There was no minimum wage, let alone the simple notion of workers getting hourly wages agreed to beforehand, and then paid at regular intervals.

Very simply, the wealthy upper class (Business) enjoyed all the benefits derived from the workers (Labor), and they had no legal reason or moral inclination to treat the lower class like anything other than farm animals, with no regard for their health, safety or general welfare. And that still wasn’t good enough for them. They used the stock market to gamble with other people’s money. In fact, “gamble” is the best term to describe what happened. In reality, Business used the stock market as the largest ponzie scheme to ever exist in world history. These games played by the elite eventually collapsed on themselves, with the full knowledge and support of Republicans, and the result was catastrophic.

One in four Americans had no job, no income, no unemployment insurance or credit of any kind. Nothing. Imagine losing your job, and having NOTHING to feed your family. The “liberal majority”, Labor and working class back then considered this unconscionable and immoral. This went against every notion of what it meant to be American, and Christian. Business didn’t care about those things. And the Great Depression was the final straw on the back of the working class.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal provided relief, recovery and reform to the country, and laid the groundwork for what would become the middle class of America. With WWII, the GI Bill and additional Democratic programs, America left the Great Depression behind and entered the greatest period of growth and prosperity in history. Helping average Americans to be secure in their labor and wages, promoting the general welfare for all Americans and not just the most wealthy, and more importantly, giving all Americans access to higher education, all combined to lift almost the entire population from sheer poverty and illiteracy, to become the most highly educated, industrious and successful generation the world has ever seen.

But the pendulum always swings back and forth. After about 20 years though, there just didn’t seem the need to keep paying for so many of these programs. Federal tax rates – paying the bill for these programs – had begun to place an increasing burden on taxpayers.

And so, fiscal conservatives began gaining political ground, getting support for their legitimate points and arguments. And of course, Business began to exploit this, taking the growing discontent with the original programs that had helped create the modern America we know today, and trying to convince people that there was some enemy behind these programs. Remember, “enemies” are a great marketing tool. Rather than focus on the conservative message – that we must live and pay within our means – Business went several steps beyond and began a marketing campaign of revisionist history and demonizing an enemy that didn’t even exist. They said those programs never did anything. They said the president was a danger to democracy, abusing his power. Even though he was democratically, freely elected by Americans to three terms in office (the only president elected to more than two terms), Business managed to dupe enough people, or at least enticed the Legislative branch to give themselves greater powers, and the result was the 22nd Amendment to our U.S. Constitution. That’s the Amendment that Congress passed themselves, which declared that free American voters could no longer vote for the same president more than two times.

And with that act, Business took over the political process, wrestling control back from Labor and the majority of Americans. Marketing campaigns and lobbying worked. Greed was good again. And the next 20 years would lay to waste everything that had made America great in the 20th century.

John F. Kennedy gave us great hope for recovery and greatness again, in the early 60’s. But his time was cut far too short. It wasn’t until later in the 70’s, that more Americans decided to vote for the other party. Fortunately for the Democratic Party, they were it. Somehow, in spite of their lack of cohesion and organization, Democrats began taking office again.

Too bad for them though, it was the 70’s. The world was in chaos. Thanks to Business and neo-con militaristic types, the military industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about had effectively armed the forces of the world, those on both sides of most existing conflicts (if they weren’t creating new conflicts, just to have more selling opportunities). American Democrats were voted into office at the exact same time that the world was burning and exploding with conflicts, overshadowed by the Cold War’s threat of global nuclear destruction.

What else could Democrats do but simply hold on? Well, somehow, they did plenty – and most of it was wrong. In the middle of this chaos, U.S. Congressional Democrats focused mostly on local Labor issues and government programs that cost a lot of money, but didn’t seem to have any real goals, measurements for success, or ultimate accountability. Americans still, and always have been, generally fiscally conservative. Democrats made the mistake of taking the votes we gave them, and assuming this was a mandate for doing everything differently than the Republicans. It wasn’t. And that is the Democrats greatest flaw, just as true then as it is today. Being voted into office is not a mandate for every plank of your party’s platform. It’s a simple request by Americans:Please try doing a better job than the last person we elected. If they were doing anything good before, keep doing that – but also make improvements wherever you can.

It’s deja vu, all over again.

Most people reading this know the more recent history well enough (and/or I will cover current news and issues in separate posts later), that I won’t take more hours typing about it in this post now. Long story short, Democrats blew it – primarily because they didn’t maintain a fiscal conservatism that most Americans prefer. This gave Republicans and Business the opportunity to gain power again. After 20 years of Republican domination, wars, scandals, business abuses that added more debt and cost to American taxpayers obligation than all other social programs and previous wars combined, and a total dropping of the ball in terms of anticipating and quelling terrorist activities, more Americans – faced with no other choice – grudgingly started to vote for Democrats.

And yet today, we still see the same kinds of issues, marketing and mistakes that have plagued our nation for more than 80 years: A majority of Americans freely elected A Democratic president who said he’d give us healthcare, and raise taxes on the wealthy by 2 to 4%. Seems straight-forward enough, right? But Republicans, in response, have started calling it a socialist communist fascist take-over of the government and America, which may require armed rebellion and secession. If you’re not with them, you’re not American. Democratic politicians, meanwhile, seemed to be obsessed with banning water bottles, plastic bags and Happy Meal toys.

I’ll have more thoughts on that, later.