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Deceit typing the scales wrongly

Guns vs. Butter

Let me take us back to the 1950’s and 1960’s and think about two Presidents, one from each Party. In the 50’s we had climbed out of the Great Depression, World War II, and was finishing out of the Korean War.  Eisenhower in the 50’s objected to the expansion and endless warfare of the military industrial complex even though he led the way into the Viet Nam War.  In the 60’s we were in a Cold War arms race and getting more involved in the Viet Nam War. Johnson in the 60’s preferred to continue New Deal programs and expand welfare.

In Eisenhower’s “Chance For Peace” speech in 1953, he referred to this very trade-off, giving specific examples:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. … Is there no other way the world may live?

The United States spends more on national defense than the next ten countries (China, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil) combined. The United States has also historically devoted a larger share of its economy to defense than many of its key allies.

The United States needs a great military, a modern military. Technology is not unique to the United States and future wars and battles will be fought with modern technology.  Maybe technologies will allow us to spend less or maybe we just spend less on guns and more on butter. Defense spending is 15% of the Federal budget and is the third highest behind Social Security and Medicare.

If I said we spent $500 billion on defense would that be too much?  I ask because many of us express opinions about whether we should spend more or less on defense.  Actually in 2019 the United States spent $676 Billion on defense, with 40% of it spent on compensation and medical care.

In 2016, the Coalition for Fiscal and National Security, a group of former senior government officials led by Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a call to action on the national debt. The coalition wrote:

“Today, to be pro-defense must mean being pro-reform. America’s national security budget requires updating and rebalancing in order to sustain our strong military posture and global leadership role.”

Conservatives crave protection and want to spend more on guns and are willing to cut social programs like social security and health care to do so to help us slow down our accumulation of national debt.

Liberals want to spend more on butter and want to modernize the military in an effort to slow down the accumulation of national debt.

Conservatives want to remove regulations from businesses and liberals want to hold them accountable for the well being of the environment and their workers.

As I have been repeatedly saying, we need balance.  Together we can get this right.

This Is Not Your Dad’s Republican Party Or Your Grandfather’s Democratic Party

There comes a time when we as an American people need to work together, other than in times of war, for our greater good.  We have much in common and our differences should be the spice that makes the meal great and stop being the meal.

We should not be competitors intent on winning elections.  Winning needs to be grander than that.  Winning needs to be about bringing America closer to the lofty words contained in our Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  We need to stop being selfish, tribal, divided, and seeing others as an enemy.

To accomplish grander winning we need to hit the refresh button on Congress.

  • If we could take money out of elections our elected representatives could be more independent of the power brokers.  Then, we start electing individuals and not parties.
  • If there were 18 year term limits on Senators and 12 year term limits on Representatives, power will begin to reside with a younger group that actually want to cross Party lines to move us forward.

The differences we have are manifested by liberals and conservatives. There are many progressives in both parties but conservatives and liberals are not in both Parties. Conservatives and liberals hate to compromise.  Progressives are balance seekers.  Balance is needed in almost everything we do.  Republicans generally point to three presidents they most admire–Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Reagan  and two of them, Lincoln and Roosevelt, were progressives with Reagan of Trickle Down fame, being a conservative. 

Eisenhower doesn’t seem to get as much love compared to those three but he was also a progressive and warned us of the Military Industrial Complex while expanding Social Security.  Eisenhower fought isolationist policies and fully supported NATO.  He prioritized inexpensive nuclear weapons and cut military spending.  He warned about the dangers of massive military spending, particularly deficit spending.  He spent money on infrastructure and created the Interstate Highway System.  Eisenhower’s two terms saw widespread economic prosperity and achieved this with high tax rates.  His taxes on corporate taxes were two times what they were in 2017 and now greater than two times with the 2019 tax changes.

Teddy Roosevelt was known as the Trust Buster.  He was President when many were prone to nostalgically looking back upon the preindustrial era “when the average man lived more to himself.”  He challenged them to look forward, not backward–to a time when public sentiment was ready for the national government to find constructive ways to intervene in the workings of the economic order, to regulate the trust, stimulate competition, and protect small companies.

During the beginning of his Presidency there was a major coal strike that if ignored would create substantial hardships.  At the time Republicans would have taken the side of business but Roosevelt took his own path to solve the strike.  A strike that brought to focus the issues arising from gigantic trusts that were rapidly swallowing up competitors leading to corruption and increasing the concentration of wealth and the growing gap between the rich and the poor.

Roosevelt was a student of history, a voracious reader, and a historian.  He knew this strike reflected the decades long trend where owners took advantage of miners, businesses put profits above worker, and the gap between rich and poor grew.

The Party of Lincoln and the 1860’s Infusion of Northern Democrats

The Party of Lincoln freed the slaves.  Is this the same Party that has been making it difficult to impossible for blacks to vote?  Lincoln was a progressive and avoided extremes, leaving those to liberals and conservatives.  His Republican Party in the 1860’s was drawing progressives from Northern Democrats and from the splintering Whig Party.  The Democratic Party as a result of their progressive members gravitating to Lincoln’s new Republican Party, became controlled by the Southern Democrats and became known as the Andrew Jackson Democrats.

The Democratic Party, whose roots included Jefferson and anti-federalists, did not grow again until Franklin Roosevelt introduced the New Deal that gave a country hope during the Great Depression while the Republican Party refused to support it.  Then World War came and the nation was successfully guided to victory by Democratic Presidents, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and a 5 Star General, Eisenhower, who although became a Republican President, was recruited by both Parties to be their candidate.

The Party of Lincoln and the 1960’s Infusion of Southern Democrats

Lyndon Johnson(D) was a Texan that got Southern and Northern States, Democrats and Republicans, to pass civil rights legislation that since 1776 this country knew was eventually going to have to pass if our great American Experiment was to be real and closer to what we declared in the Declaration of Independence.

 “We foremost hold truths to be self evident, that this nation was conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Lyndon Johnson gave us Medicare, Medicaid, and Head Start and other legislation designed to help abolish poverty.  He is remembered most for his Civil Rights Act that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.  It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, and racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations.

That Civil Rights Act resulted in a huge migration of Southern Democrats into the Republican Party which has had a profound effect on both Parties through addition and subtraction. Grass roots campaigning is fundamental to winning an election and the makeup of the grass roots in each Party changed.  Party Platforms also changed with the Democratic Party moving more toward the 1860 version of the Party of Lincoln and the Republican Party moving away from the 1860 Party of Lincoln.

The Party of Lincoln and the 2000’s Infusion of The Tea Bag Party Into The Republican Party

In 2008 the Tea Party, now called the Freedom Caucus, became part of the Republican Party.  The Freedom Caucus is very conservative and wants to balance the budget by reducing entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Affordable Health Care Plan, etc. They have moved the Republican Party away from Lincoln’s and Teddy Roosevelt’s visions and toward a more pro-business stance less burdened by employee expenses and taxes.

Bernie Sanders

While the Southern Democrats that moved to the Republican Party in the mid 1960’s and the Tea Bag Party/Freedom Caucus that joined the Republican Party in the 2000’s have pushed the Party of Lincoln away from its progressive roots, Bernie Sanders has pushed the Democratic Party toward liberalism.

However, Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama were progressives and governed left of center.  The Democratic Party elected Hillary Clinton  over Bernie Sanders as their Presidential candidate in 2016.  And now, it has chosen Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders as their candidate for 2020.  This means the heart of the Democratic Party is not radical liberalism or socialism.  It is instead dominated by progressives who are generally left of center.

Balance

We need balance.  We need progressives like Teddy and Abraham and Barack.  Yes, I know, I slipped Barack in there.  But whether or not you are comfortable with a black family in the White House, it was historical and a profound outcome of Lincoln’s vision of America.

And no matter how many of us want to reject this, the Obama Administration was clean, inspirational and soul satisfying for the majority of Americans–he made the majority of Americans proud of themselves.  The world was disappointed with us due to the Iraq War and our part in the economic collapse that almost put the world in a depression just as Obama was sworn into office.  Obama Care along with the Franklin Roosevelt’s Social Security Act, Eisenhower’s expansion of Social Security, Johnson’s Medicare and Medicaid Acts, and Bush’s Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit plan have saved American’s financial lives over and over again.  All progressive measures.

And let’s remember that the Iraq War and Medicare Part D were not budgeted for and therefore they were paid with debt.  These two accomplishments are Republican accomplishments.  Obama Care was budgeted for and therefore was paid for with fees and taxes.  Republicans like to say the phrase “Tax and Spend Democrats” over and over again.  But Republicans use debt to finance big ventures.  They could comparatively be called “Debt and Spend Republicans.”  Both terms are meant to demean the other Party and not enlighten voters.

The Direction of America

While Americans have moved from state to state, job to job, young to old; there has been a political battle to control the direction America takes. The direction is dependent on how we incorporate into our voting these words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:

That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth and shall have a new birth of freedom.

Conservatives tend to be pro-business and Liberals tend to be pro-people.  The former has accepted that wealth is accumulating in the top two percent of Americans and the latter has not and while both parties differ from issue to issue, these two core beliefs of conservatives and liberals, pro-business v pro-people, are the foundation for the lack of balance that currently exists in the Republican and Democratic parties we know today.

Progressives in both Parties understand that being pro-business does not mean people support greed and being pro-people does not mean people do not want businesses to be very successful.

Does being pro-business mean someone is materialistic and does being pro-people mean someone is more spiritual?  No!  But if it did we would again need balance.  Balance that progressives bring.

Progressives in both Parties understand that material prosperity without spirituality leads to greed, lack of inner and outer peace, and war and that spirituality without material development leads to poverty and famine.  Progressives are to the right of Socialism and to the left of Capitalism.  Capitalism without spiritualism and Socialism without materialism produces a system that is not in balance.

Voting a straight Party ticket without regard to whether a candidate is too far left or too far right can lead to a nation that is out of balance.

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