So, Really, What’s Wrong With Being A Democrat?

by Thomas Goldsmith Oppenheimer on June 4, 2012

Though I feel no strong animus toward the people on the left side of the aisle, I do often experience incredulity. As an idealist, I understand the ‘progressives’ (not liberal’s) desire to believe that the collective power of humanity, driven by noble intentions and good will, CAN direct a government to take almost parental care of its citizens.

I also happen to be a cynic. That side takes precedence in matters political, so that I can not bring myself to subscribe to the delusion that any group of people, given power over others, will not succumb to the temptation to take care of themselves at the expense of others.

Consequently, I am a moderate Republican. I can’t make it to far right because these people are really just the opposite incarnation of the far left. Both fringes are ruled by emotion. The forces in the middle of both dispositions are the only ones whom we can trust to govern, but the most powerful means of persuasion in the world is emotion. Therefore, the platform for each side must make peace with the extremists: they win the most arguments and so garner the most votes.

I tend to defend the Constitution, perhaps because it has proven to be a remarkably flexible and reasonable approach to governance. The framers argued long and hard and tried to inoculate the Great Experiment against the virus that is human frailty. Translation: the Constitution delineates limits in many cases so that the federal government cannot neglect its duty to provide fundamental services for its people. However, the document also avoids delineation in some cases so that leaders can not exercise powers they ought not have.

For instance? The Constitution provides no place for the federal government to dictate the creation of a national health care program. It does not because to do so will abridge the freedom of the individual. Yet it does not prohibit a state from creating a healthcare vehicle that is formulated by the state. Most states currently have no provision for creating just such an agency, but they could pass provisions through the amendment of their state constitution.

I don’t want a state or federal health care plan. I want the situaiton to grow so unwieldy that states are persuaded to make regulations that protect the citizens and guard against abuses. Whether at the state or federal level, I object to the idea of prescribed health care because the cynic in me knows that an agency with the power to control so much money is destined to become a way for a few greedy individuals to make money at the expense of others. The idealist in me wants to believe that carefully crafted regulations can prevent such abuse, and that ingenuity and noble intentions will drive people to create fair, effective mechanisms by which people can access healthcare.

I think most Democrats are hopeful idealists. Like them, I would love to have a government that is benevolent and which ensures rights, privileges, and protections for its people. But the cynic in me doesn’t trust people, especially in powerful groups, to be able to maintain that benevolence. So I want a mandated limitation of the exercise of power.

Of course, this rumination has been provoked by the shift in power that is expected to be the result of these 2010 elections. If the House does shift to the right, I am not going to be happy though. I think the shift is emotional and somewhat driven by pettiness. As an earlier commentary noted, people will be voting against a current state of affairs, not in favor of a ‘better’ way to do things. Remember the cynic in me isn’t very hopeful or trustworthy.

What I would like is for the citizenry to think everything through. Voting the Democratic way can be a statement that says one has faith and hope in people and the instituations they create. Voting Republican can be a statement that says indivisual people and their organizations can provide the benevolent services that a society needs to thrive.

I am sorry to believe that most voters vote not with their consciences, since doing so requires rational thought and careful examination. Instead, the rights and the lefts will primarily vote with their emotional selves at the forefront – reacting to fear of one kind or another.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous July 22, 2012 at 9:18 am

The constitution does not mention health care…. It also doesnt mention slavery.

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Thomas Goldsmith Oppenheimer July 22, 2012 at 10:54 am

Slavery pre-dates the Constitution. Eventually, it addresses slavery directly. What’s your point?

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Anonymous July 29, 2012 at 1:56 am

And not in a good way – African Americans are still property and only 3/5ths human.

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Joe Previty July 21, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I like your take on the whole kettle of fish. It’s pretty sensible.

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