Who Crippled the Government?

This morning McClatchy newspaper reports, “Democrats poised for sharp turn to the left: Two days before their party convention, Democrats are more liberal than at any time in a generation.”</a>

I disagree with a main point of the McClatchy article: that the conservative right represents mainly wealthy, and the liberal left, the rest of us. There are plenty of conservatives who are not, themselves, wealthy.

The story is on point, where it notes how Americans recoiled at the weak federal government response to Katrina in 2005. Today, what Americans want is simply for government to work. Period.

The disastrous response to Katrina revealed a federal government stacked with political appointees in key management positions, rewarded for ideology and not experience.

Today it is clear to voters that an integral part of the conservative plan was to deliberately cripple government and regulation. This was part and parcel of the Karl Rove and Grover Norquist nightmare unleashed by smart people who should have known better: that protecting democracy meant destroying government itself; give industry, give the “free market”, give the profit principle the tools to protect people where– they believed– government was itself the enemy.

It’s not a resurgence of liberal values that will drive voters in November: it is a belief that government should work and that it hasn’t worked because Republicans put ideology before performance and then covered up their mistakes.

Democracy should be more than words, flags, lapel pins and Fox spin. It should be stopping white collar crime, it should be intervening in the slide to climate chaos, it should be protecting elections, enhancing and protecting individual liberty and freedom, not empowering insider dealing, ideology in private life and the bedroom. How are those “liberal” values?

In 1994, with the Gingrich Republican revolution, it seemed conservatives were on the way to securing a mandate yet with all their opportunity, what they did was drive the economy straight off the tracks with historic blunders in management of the treasury, monetary policy, and war.

The party of limited government presided over an unprecedented expansion of government power and reliance on corrupt lobbyists like Jack Abramoff.

Starving budgets with regulatory responsibliity, they believed, was the companion piece to putting ideological loyalists in positions of authority. On every front, the results have been devastating and the opposite of what they intended.

It is not “liberal” to believe that America has to change course. What America needs is fiscal accountability and fairness: these aren’t liberal or conservative values– they are what every American believes in.

There will be a Democratic landslide in November. Some would call this counting one’s chickens before they hatch, but in the case of the Republican Party; they killed their brood hatch. The Democrats will be picking up the pieces of what is left. And that is not to be confused, with being “liberal”.

ALAN FARAGO, who writes on the environment and politics from Coral Gables, Florida, and can be reached at alanfarago@yahoo.com


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Alan Farago is president of Friends of the Everglades and can be reached at afarago@bellsouth.net