Liberal Paternalism

Election years are a mixed blessing when it comes to political commentary. Some of the very best commentary gets written, but it is usually lost in the din of venting and bombast. At least some of it is amusing – I enjoyed this article. Of course, I’m not buying it. Democrats may be puzzled when they lose elections, but so are Republicans, and for the same reason. They both think they have the right arguments and both feel entitled to win because they’re right.

What struck me is the negative reaction of so many liberals to the premise of the article. Modern Democratic liberalism is largely about paternalism – what else would you call the New Deal and the Great Society? The next target is health care – a newer and greater deal for society. Sure, there are many side issues, but the core difference is in the view of the proper role of government. Democrats want government to do more for us. Republicans generally believe that government is too big, too clumsy, too intrusive, and too corrupt. [If they could only find a way of avoiding corruption themselves, they’d have a better argument – Ed]

What is a major distraction in political disourse is that every small item is magnified and made into a great moral cause. Barack Obama was friends with a Weatherman – he’s clearly unfit! Sarah Palin changed her mind about earmarks – she’s clearly unfit. Joe Biden was wrong about partitioning Iraq – unfit! unfit ! unfit! And McCain is just too old – clearly unfit!

Look, it’s real simple. There’s a “big government” party and a “small government” party, both of which often lose their way. These parties select candidates to represent them in government. The parties do the best they can, providing much amusement in the process. Our only real decision is to decide which philosophy of government we believe in and vote that way. Every thing else is a distraction.

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