This Post is republished from its original publishing date one year ago and has been updated several times since.
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. Nixon was another Republican President that deserves to be in this conversation even if he were mostly disliked.
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.
Nixon. This might surprise you because Nixon was so disliked by both Parties. But military budgets decreased under Nixon despite the ongoing war in Viet-Nam. He ended the military draft. Unlike Republicans of today, his economic policies were not particularly friendly to business and the rich. In 1969 he supported and signed a bill that abolished investment tax credits for business and for the rich he increased capital gains taxes and cut off loopholes by introducing a minimum tax. He created new regulatory bureaucracies targeting business including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency which under Nixon set strict standards on air and water pollution. He signed into law the Equal Employment Opportunity Act to root out racial and gender discrimination and tripled the budget for civil rights enforcement.
Nixon also significantly enlarged the U.S. welfare state, making cost-of-living increases in Social Security automatic, created an entirely new benefit for disable workers, and expanding the food stamp program. In his five and a half years in office, federal spending on social services doubled. Nixon proposed a universal health insurance plan not unlike Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have called socialism for the last 40 years.
Lincoln and The Party of Lincoln freed the slaves. Is this the same Party that has been making it difficult to impossible for blacks to vote for the last 150+ years? 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–Your grandfather’s Democratic Party.
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.
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.
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.
Since 1977, the three presidential administrations that have overseen the deficit increases are the three Republican ones. President Trump’s tax cut is virtually assured to make him the fourth of four. And the three administrations that have overseen deficit reductions are the three Democratic ones, including a small decline under Barack Obama. If you want to know whether a post-1976 president increased or reduced the deficit, the only thing you need to know is his party.
Republicans have now spent almost 40 years cutting taxes and expanding government programs without paying for them. The other party has raised taxes and usually been careful to pay for its new programs. It is an inconvenient truth that Republicans will hate to swallow and probably will not. Alternative facts are not the truth however.
There is an important distinction between being uninformed and being misinformed. Many citizens may base their policy preferences on false, misleading, or unsubstantiated information that they believe to be true. Frequently, such misinformation is related to one’s political preferences.
Research in political science has found that it is possible to change issue opinions by directly providing relevant facts to subjects. But most of the time news shows don’t have guests that are trusted by both Democrats and Republicans and instead have Democratic Party and Republican Party political strategists present “Alternative Information” which doesn’t change anybody’s opinion.
Six Political Parties
None of us fit entirely in one of the two major Parties. And yet we tend to vote straight Party tickets as if we did. If we were to answer questions about where we stand on 20 issues we might find ourselves in one of six Parties. That would be a good thing and maybe the only way we escape the chains that keep us from working together. Try it here:
I am not a big fan of President Biden. I offer that to sooth the reaction I might get by saying there is no doubt in my mind that Trump would have been too despised by Republicans if he were a Democrat to ever get a one of their votes much less believe him when he said he won the 2020 election.
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.