DEBT CEILING

Congress and the President continue to argue over what is actually a small part of the federal budget.  If an agreement is not reached, we are told, perhaps validly, our economy will suffer a catastrophe.  All in all, it doesn’t appear different from the same old gridlock wherein the two parties cannot make the government work.  Whether you believe the Democrats or Republicans are more at fault for the situation largely depends on who you listen to.

My own concern is that the Republican party is not living up to its potential.   The Republican party was once the party of progress: the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.  My own belief it that in its progressive moments, the Republican party has more vitality and sincerity than all the putative liberalism of the Democrats.  These progressive moments have become rare over the last thirty years.  The right wing has taken over the party, and moderate Republicans such as Rudy Guiliani, probably the most competent of all recent presidential candidates, have not been able to get past the hostility from the rightwing contingent. 

Well into the twentieth century, the Republican party, if no longer progressive, was moderate.  Thomas Dewey, who ran for president against Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, ran the Republican party long after he left theNew Yorkgovernor’s mansion.  Under Dewey the party held a moderate line.  It was this moderation that influenced the policies of Eisenhower, Gerald Ford and, yes, Richard Nixon.

This changed when Ronald Reagan said that government should get off the backs of the people.  This attitude was, of course, nonsense, as the policies of the Tea Party are nonsense.  Tom Paine’s maxim that the best government is the government that governs least is also the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson, founder of the Democratic party.  The Federalist party ofJefferson’s rival Alexander Hamilton believed that a strong federal government was necessary.  And the Republican party, which is the direct descendent of the Federalist, has historically held that a large government, when competent and not beholden to special interests, can benefit the lives of the people.

Ronald Reagan, who was originally a Democrat, was not the great president so many people make him out to be.  He led the country in a profoundly wrong direction.  He did the Republican party a disservice in 1976, when his opposition to Gerry Ford led to Jimmy Carter’s victory.

The result of Reagan’s policies, as well as his successors, has caused the erosion of individual human rights.  Even the courts, the traditional guardians of individual rights, have been far less vigorous in protecting them.  On the other side of the coin, corporations have gone unregulated.  The result of this is that a small number of people now control much of the wealth in this country.  The middle class has all but disappeared, and the poor are unable to pay their bills.  These, of course, are depressingly similar to the Gilded Age conditions that Teddy Roosevelt fought to end more than a century ago.

The right wing continues to sink its rabid teeth into the party leadership.  One group in Congress threatens even Medicaid and Medicare.  These views reflect neither the needs nor the views of the electorate majority.

Moderate Republicans would do well to take the party back from the right wing.

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About jalesy55

Charles Lupia is a playwright, freelance writer and lawyer. His blogs cover a range of topics, from politics to entertainment.
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