Sunday, May 08, 2011

'Murrican Political Practices: The Reality

Found at Wikipedia:
"...[Y]ears later libertarians argued that Hoover's economics were statist. Franklin D. Roosevelt blasted the Republican incumbent for spending and taxing too much, increasing national debt, raising tariffs and blocking trade, as well as placing millions on the dole of the government. Roosevelt attacked Hoover for "reckless and extravagant" spending, of thinking "that we ought to center control of everything in Washington as rapidly as possible."[54] Roosevelt's running mate, John Nance Garner, accused the Republican of "leading the country down the path of socialism."[55]

And that's even before they get to the Bonus Army.

But that's not my point. Once the second Mr. Roosevelt was elected, he found himself spending and taxing, increasing the national debt and putting millions of citizens on various government assistance programs. Oh, he tried to keep his promises at first -- reducing Federal spending by slashing military budgets and "...cuts on veterans' benefits. He removed 500,000 veterans and widows from the pension rolls and reduced benefits for the remainder. He cut the salaries of federal employees and reduced spending on research and education." But it didn't hold; in the Second new Deal, he began to really throw money at the problem, in the manner of Mr. Hoover but even more so. His critics compared him to Marx and Lenin -- and there we are, right at the point where we came in.[1]

That's my point: it has become pretty much standard far in the Presidencey to campaign against what the incumbent was doing -- then get elected and do the same thing. Mr. Obama has presently got himself one more war than Mr. Bush, for example, and he's planning on keeping the Gitmo detainees detained right where they are....

I'm not necessarily demonizing or lionizing[2] any of these guys. I think the Presidency is an impossible job and that Presidents end up holding the hot potato for a lot of things Congress and the bureaucracy do; an awful lot of the power of the office, aside from missile launches and the occasional pest control effort (Mr. bin Laden, etc.) consists of making speeches and appearing to be leading the way.

But I do think we'd be better off if the power wielded by the Legislative and Executive branches were scaled way back. At the very least, there'd be a lot less reason for partisan rewriting of history and we wouldn't see one President excoriated and another lauded for doing the exact same thing, with the names switched around according to the affiliation and predilections of the commentator.
1. I don't know how many people get that movie-going reference any more. Tsk.

2. Although, depending on how you interpret the term, "lionization" could make sorting out the primaries much simpler: one lion, one Flavianesque Ampitheatre, x candidates. Run, Mr. P@ul, run! Oh, gee, Mr. Dean, I'm sure they can stitch that right back on....


Drang said...

The Question, of course, is "Who bells the rat?"

Joseph said...

The Presidency IS an impossible job. It doesn't help that the House and Senate are far more interested in retaining power than to sit down at a table and ask each other, "What do we need to do for the good of the country?"

perlhaqr said...

I'm into this lionization thing. My favored candidate this go 'round, Gary Johnson, is a triathlete, and has climbed Everest. My money is on him over Chump. ;)

Comrade Misfit said...

So let's take this a step further: You've identified a problem, how do you fix it? You can't trust whoever is running for President, for from Obama's embrace of the Constitution-shredding practices of the Bush Administration to the Bush Administration's embrace of more intrusive and larger government with massive deficits, well, you identified the problem.

How do you fix it? And how do you fix it in a way that allows for strong government action (wars, large-scale natural disasters) when necessary, without power-creep over time?

Roberta X said...

Tree. Rope. Some assembly required. There ya go!

I don't approve of "strong governmental action." Perhaps you have mistaken me for someone else?

Power corrupts.

Swap ya one Hurricane Katrina for one of Stalin's engineered famines. Or a stack of smallpox-laden "indian charity blankets."

Nature'll kill ya, but government does it bigger, better and with malice.

Comrade Misfit said...

Well, we've had direct experience with a war between a country with a strong national government and one with a weak national government, at least back between 1861 and 1865.

Even the Texans are now screaming that the Federal government hasn't done enough to help them with their current wildfires. Yet a year or two ago, their governor was bleating about seceding.

The last state I know of that said, with regard to disaster aid, "thanks, but no, we've got it" was Vermont in 1927.

I'd think that the states that keep talking about wanting a weaker Federal government ought to "walk the walk" when the opportunity permits. But I never seem to see that happening.

Roberta X remotely said...

You think the Feds would allow that? Last time it was seriously tried... Oh, you already mentioned that.

And while we are talking about that example of "strong governmnet action," (IMO, the North won 'cos of having the larger industrial base, same way the Allies won a couple of World Wars), let us consider its major product: killed and maimed citizens. This is the primary and most typical product of a "strong government action."

As for slavery, let us consider other countries, like Brazil and Great Britain, where it didn't take a war to end it: in a modern economy, slavery is nonviable. It was on the way out anyway. Those men (mostly) died because Washington wouldn't let go. Mr. Lincoln famously said he would have freed all the slaves or none of them, if either course of action would have won the war. Instead, though the whole war, he watched slaves build the Capitol. Some liberator!

Roberta X remotely said...

Drang, y'know, I was thinkin' about describing the Presidency and Congress as "rats beneath the floorboards" of the White House and Capitol. Great minds think alike?