First, here’s the problem with Democrats:
They claim that socialism is good in theory AND good in practice. It’s good in theory, they claim, because the purpose of the individual is to take care of his fellow man. Government’s purpose is to make sure we all do that.
How well does this work out, in practice? Not very, as most of human history — up through and including Communism and the European welfare states, not to mention Medicare and Social Security — illustrate very well. No matter. The Democrats always have a “reform,” and they always blame something else (aside from their ideology) for their failures.
Here’s the problem with the Republicans:
They claim that socialism is good in theory — but NOT quite so good in practice. In essence, they agree with Democrats that the purpose of the individual is to take care of his fellow man. Conservatives resent government usurping this power from the individual, or from God. In words, they claim to want to downsize government. But in practice, government has never been reduced on their watch. At most, the mere rate of government growth is reduced (only to be reversed later by Democrats), but most Republicans don’t even go this far.
The problem here is simple. You can’t be FOR something in theory and against it in practice. Yet the Republicans are. They talk of saving the welfare/entitlement state as we know it. They never suggest that there’s something morally wrong about forcing individuals to live for each other, rather than pursue their own happiness and take responsibility for doing so. The speeches at the Republican convention mostly emphasized the primacy of helping others, not individualism, capitalism or freedom. They support “free markets” in defense of the morality of self-sacrifice. But if self-sacrifice is the essence of morality, we need socialism…not freedom.
This leaves the Democrats with every justification for saying, “Hey guys. You want what we want. But you’re not willing to pay for it. You’re a bunch of hypocrites and cowards.”
And in a sense, the Democrats are right.
The Republicans declare war on the intellect when they claim that a grand idea — the ideology of selflessness — is unfit for human consumption. They also denigrate humans in the process, claiming that humans are incapable of living up to their own cherished ideals. This is why Democrats appear to be the party of rational intelligence, on the surface, even though their policies of coercion are driving the great American economy into the ground.
The never-asked question remains: Why are self-sacrifice and self-imposed slavery — which are all that socialism is, in the end — the “ideal” in the first place? Why can’t people be free and responsible for living their own lives? Surely, they’re likewise free to help each other out — when they choose, and as they see fit, not because government or some other moral imperative commands it.
Nobody asks this question. So watching the “conflict” between Republicans and Democrats play out again and again becomes like watching a Star Trek episode in which the characters are caught in a time loop, playing out the same events over and over again without any resolution.
It has been said that insanity consists of doing the same thing over and over again, only expecting different results. That’s what these election cycles are starting to resemble.
Until we question socialism in theory, we’re doomed to keep living under it in practice.
So long as we claim to believe in “self-esteem” and “individualism” while negating the only condition — freedom — which makes achievement of those things possible, we’re trapped in a lethal contradiction.
Republicans and Democrats may differ politically, but for the most part have the same theory of ethics: Self-sacrifice of the individual for the sake of others. Democrats seek to implement this theory via the brute force (and smiling face) of activist government. Republicans seek to implement this theory through a more voluntary means, based on prayer and church rather than government agencies. Get real, Republicans. If selfless service is the moral imperative, how can churches and volunteers compete with the force of the federal government?
You cannot adopt the theory of your opponent and expect to win. This is why Republicans usually lose, and even when they win an election they end up losing the war. Big Government has grown and the economy has shrunk, thanks to the policies of both parties over the years.
America will come back to life only when we get a new theory to practice. The theory is the ethics of individualism, and the practice is (unhampered) capitalism and individual rights. I wish somebody, somewhere would stand up and defend the right of the individual above the mob. Instead, we have two movements — liberal and conservative — competing for the title ‘sainthood’ where virtue is defined as the opposite of personal happiness, yet personal happiness (“the American dream”) is supposedly everyone’s goal.
Sure, I’ll vote for Romney to undermine Obama. Obama, right now, is the symbol and the actual executor of unhampered selflessness in theory and unlimited government in practice. But if Romney actually wins and ends up trying to preserve the theory of socialism while supposedly undermining it in practice, I will be voting against Romney in 2016 (in the primaries), or not voting at all (in the general election).
Paul Ryan is certainly right about one thing. Time is running out for America. A free and self-responsible people can fix this more than their government can. My question is: Where are the people, and are they up to the job?
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Michael J. Hurd Ph.D.