Shocking Hypocrisy from the Right and the Left: What it Means to Me to Be a Libertarian
Moveon.org ad that ran during the 2004 presidential race
Moveon.org ad that ran during the 2004 presidential race
Let's pretend we're back in good ol' 2004. Amid campaign ads from John Kerry and Moveon.org that highlight the dangers of President Bush's drunken government spending, Republicans are quick to defend the administration, claiming that the spending is the necessary result of a national emergency. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are busy arguing that the Democrats are "on the wrong side of history," and Rush is especially keen to note that the Democrats are positioned in such a way that they can only gain from failure while the Republican Party is the party that yearns only for success. Meanwhile, protestors are hounding any and all political functions, and when anybody dares tell them they are being disruptive, people like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi get on their soapboxes and exclaim that "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" and that people who are protesting the Bush administration are being both noble and brave. Additionally, popular rock bands like Green Day and Pearl Jam are touring the world on the "Vote for Change" circuit, announcing to crowds of thousands at a time that the Patriot Act is stifling their freedom of speech.
Now let's return to 2009, the present. At first glance, nothing has changed. People are still protesting, the government is still spending too much money, people are still exaggerating bits of legislation, and Rush Limbaugh is still talking about failure. Of course, the Republicans are now the Democrats and the Democrats are now the Republicans, but hey, we can take some solace in the fact that the substance of political bickering has maintained a startling amount of stability.
Here in 2009, Republicans are bitching about President Obama's out-of-control spending and the growing deficit, while Democrats whine that the spending is necessary in order to "invest in the future" thanks to the national economic emergency. Rush Limbaugh, the man who chastised the Democrats for wishing for failure, has openly admitted that he wants President Obama to fail. Protestors are still disrupting political functions, but instead of protesting American presence in Iraq, the disruptive masses are shouting about the evils of health care reform. Meanwhile, the likes of Nancy Pelosi insist that the dissenters are Nazis or, worse yet, shills for big business, and therefore are not representative of the real America. And finally, the President himself has gone on record criticizing Republicans and the national media for exaggerating the facts behind his health care bill.
In 1908, William Jennings Bryan used newfangled technology to help his campaign, and he ranted about bank failures and the abuse of government spending
In short, there's plenty of hypocrisy to go around.
It is fairly startling how easily the people seem to fall for the same political tricks and manipulations. I remember the 2000 election, in which George Bush promised to bring change and a bipartisan atmosphere to the White House. When the Senate refused to compromise with him after he took office, he blamed the Democrats for stone-walling his initiatives before completely abandoning any aspirations of bipartisanship. Somehow, after getting fed-up with Republican rule, the American people bought--hook, line, and sinker--Barack Obama's promises a mere eight years later to bring change and a bipartisan atmosphere to the White House.
Are the people forgetful, gullible, or just plain stupid? The last few decades seem to be marked by a constant see-saw between too much power in the hands of one political party and then the other. The American people get sick of the arrogance of the Democratic Party, so they vote for Republicans. After a few years, they get angry at the ineptitude of the Republican Party, so they vote for Democrats. Indeed, if incessantly repeating the same pointless behavior without affecting the ultimate outcome is the definition of insanity, we the People are obviously in need of more risperidone and nap times.
There are people out there right now certain that President Obama's health care initiative will end their collective freedoms, while simultaneously believing that there was nothing wrong with the Patriot Act. Meanwhile, there are others who keep urging President Obama to let the Patriot Act expire because it gives too much power to the government, but they want him to force the health care bill through Congress because only the government can be trusted to run the health care industry. Interestingly, both parties seem upset by a large and meaningful bill being pushed through the legislative process before legislators can adequately study it, though they don't make the same complaint for the large and meaningful bill that they enthusiastically support.
Thomas Jefferson: representing change for over 200 years
Unfortunately, there is one truth implied by both bills, no matter how many sunset provisions are written: government power is always on the increase, never on the decrease. Once a bill is passed that gives more power to the government, it is never fully repealed. There is always an emergency large enough to justify the passing of a new bill, so it is inevitable that, eventually, our government will have taken away our basic freedoms until there is no solution save revolution.
Our forefathers, primarily Jefferson, believed this to be true. It was Jefferson (not a slouch in the hypocrisy department, I'm afraid) who first wrote that "dissent is the highest form of patriotism," and he wrote it because he believed the people should always be skeptical of government authority; it's why we rebelled against King George in the first place. Regardless of whether or not the health care bill will lead to death panels or the Patriot Act will lead to concentration camps, both are steps on the way toward tyranny.
This is also why government spending sprees are so dangerous. Regardless of what you might have heard from pundits and politicians, no president has actually paid off our national debt or successfully balanced the national budget, and no president ever will. Our deficit only grows, regardless of who is in power, and the political party in the minority will always complain about it. That's just the way this country has always worked, at least since Hamilton and Washington created the national debt in the first place.
People should have been upset at President Bush's ridiculous spending when he started throwing around hundreds of millions of dollars. They should be equally upset at President Obama's spending now that he's throwing around tens of trillions of dollars. You can't be upset at one and not the other, no matter what emergency the government is claiming to address or which party the president belongs to. This country was founded on the idea that we, the people, have the ingenuity and power to fix the problems facing us, and yet we keep handing our money and our freedoms over to the government because we've lost faith in the American dream.
Political ad about how the children will be paying for the deficit spending of the GOP
Then you have Rush Limbaugh's complaint that one party is more pessimistic than the other. Now that the Republicans are out of power, of course, they are the ones who stand to gain by government failure, and so the fallacy of Limbaugh's logic--and his own hypocrisy--lies naked for all to see. Now the Republicans, by necessity, have to be the pessimists hoping for catastrophe, and Limbaugh's followers--without any sense of irony--eagerly take up his call to pray that Obama fails.
I've heard it said--and have voiced the idea myself--that it is always better when the executive and legislative branches are controlled by opposing political parties. When the government is deadlocked, its titanic growth slows to a crawl. Unfortunately, even this is not enough, because the growth is never, ever reversed. Neither party stands to gain by eliminating government programs or actually reducing government spending, and that's the real tragedy that could potentially lead to the ruin of America.
This is why I'm a Libertarian. I believe in freedom, but I don't believe in just economic freedom or just social freedom. People should be allowed to do what they want with their money and with their lives, and they need to be reassured that the government is not going to overwhelm them with complexity, bureaocracy, bigotry, and debt.
Also, Libertarian girls are hot, sexy, smart, and up for anything
The economy, like most societal modalities, works best when government intrusion is minimal. If allowed to respond quickly to the desires and conscience of the people, the market does far more good for us than any Senate hearing or committee. The government shouldn't take a completely hands-off approach, of course, but it also shouldn't bury our capitalist system under a sea of pointless, wasteful, and caustic regulations. The government should be concerned with protecting the consumer, but it shouldn't force companies to do business while wrapped in red tape.
But I digress.
The simple truth is that we should be as upset at one party as we are at the other. We can't keep going back and forth between two flawed and corrupted ideologies, and the only way out of this mess is to find a third and better option. If the people just believe they have the power to create real change (as opposed to the change promised us by every presidential candidate since John Adams), then they really do. If you want to get out from under the heel of hypocrisy, you must vote outside the box. Until a majority of us realize this, we will continue driving this country toward inevitable annihilation.