This is a syndicated post from Catholic Journal. [Read the original article...]
Demopublarianism is rooted in respect for, yet profound dissatisfaction with, the Democrat, Republican, and Libertarian parties. Each has merit but each is flawed. Therefore, unqualified acceptance or rejection of any one of them is a serious mistake.
Demopublarianism provides the solution to this dilemma—to take the best from each party and discard the rest. In broad terms this means:
Embracing Democrats’ compassion for the poor and oppressed, their commitment to opportunity, and their openness to new perspectives and ideas. Also, their recognition that unfairness and injustice exist in Capitalism and ought to be exposed and corrected.
Rejecting Democrats’ notion the that government should play an active role in people’s lives and guarantee rather than merely encourage desirable outcomes. This notion has led many Democrats to classify whole groups of people as victims and others as villains, and to treat the former paternalistically and the latter dismissively, if not punitively.
Embracing Republicans’ emphasis on self-reliance and entrepreneurship and their devotion to the wisdom of past generations, particularly the Founders’ insight concerning the danger of bloated and intrusive government.
Rejecting Republicans’ blindness to the flaws of capitalism as demonstrated in the belief of many that, with all regulations removed, employers would automatically treat employees fairly. (Human nature and history say otherwise.) Also, their contributing to the very governmental bloat and inefficiency they proclaim to be harmful to the country.
Embracing Libertarians’ dedication to protecting liberty and their aversion to big government, particularly when it engages in activities that go beyond its constitutional authority, such as efforts to redistribute wealth. Also, their understanding that all politicians, not just Democrats, tend to support the expansion of government.
Rejecting Libertarians’ exclusion of unborn babies from their “right to life” position. (They call abortion a “sensitive issue” that should be left to each person for their “conscientious consideration.” Then in the very next sentence they proclaim that “government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property.” The obvious question they avoid is, do not individuals in the womb deserve the same protection as those outside it?) Rejecting, too, their unrealistic view that free market forces are sufficient to protect the environment, and their weak and even naïve position on border security, as expressed in their statement: “Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human and well as financial capital across national borders.”
The Demopublarian approach of taking the best and discarding the worst of each political party’s philosophy leads to a number of reasonable and useful ideas. Here is a brief sampling of some important ones:
- Humans are flawed by nature and therefore prone to error in thought, word, and deed, so all enterprises in both the public and the private sectors should be seen as corruptible, though not necessarily corrupt.
- That government exists to protect the rights of its citizens is not just a theoretical concept but also a mandate for action. It follows that government should exercise a degree of oversight over all activities that impact citizens’ rights, including private sector activities.
- Where free-trade and competitition exist in the private sector, they provide a natural and effective form of regulation—if consumers are dissatisfied with one provider of goods or services, they can take their business elsewhere. However, free-trade and competition do not exist in government—citizens cannot take their business elsewhere; all they can do is wait for the opportunity to vote unacceptable officials out of office.
- Because free-trade and competition do not exist in the government sector, government must be even more vigilant in protecting citizens from its own activities than from private sector activities. Further, because elected officials, like other humans, are indisposed to self-criticism, citizens must take special care to elect individuals of genuine wisdom and integrity.
- Because it has grown too large to be minimally efficient, government should be considerably reduced in size. This problem cannot be solved by trimming the rate of increase but requires drastic changes—eliminating whole programs and, in some cases, entire departments. (For example, replacing the current income tax system with a flat, fair or consumption tax, and significantly reducing Treasury Department staff.) Of course, every program and every department is someone’s personal fiefdom, so any proposal to shrink it evokes cries of anger and warnings of disaster. But as any industrial engineer will confirm, where standard cost plans have never been established or maintained, significant reductions in personnel and cost can be made while increasing efficiency. (Fewer bureaucrats equals fewer schemes for spending tax dollars.)
- One way to reduce the size of government, and at the same time increase revenue, is to have private companies take over some functions of government. For example, government could contract with FedEx or UPS to take over the postal service. Many other functions could be similarly handled by private companies. Granting more leases for the use of government lands would also increase revenue.
- All three parties talk about curtailing or ending foreign aid, but only conservative Republicans and Libertarians take it seriously. Despite its meager support, it is a worthy idea. Foreign aid is often little more than a device for manipulating foreign governments, but even when our government’s intentions are noble, the money often goes into the private accounts of corrupt officials rather than to the needy. Our government should, with few exceptions, end foreign aid and instead leave the task of helping the poor to private charities. (The best form of encouragement would be an improved tax incentive for charitable giving.)
A final plank in the Demopublarian platform would address a problem that is caused by the practices of all three parties rather than their philosophies. That problem is the unreadability of most contemporary legislation. Nancy Pelosi absurdly proclaimed that the Affordable Care Act would have to be passed before it could be understood. But even since being passed, it has defied understanding because it was written, not by members of Congress, but by bureaucrats, and in language that is most kindly described as an impenetrable substitute for normal English.
G. K. Chesterton underscored the deficiencies of such language in his well-known book Orthodoxy:
If you say “The social utility of the indeterminate sentence is recognized by all criminologists as a part of our sociological evolution towards a more humane and scientific view of punishment,” you can go on talking like that for hours with hardly a movement of the gray matter inside your skull. But if you begin “I wish Jones to go to [jail] and Brown to say when Jones shall come out,” you will discover, with a thrill of horror, that you are obliged to think. The long words are not the hard words, it is the short words that are hard. There is much more metaphysical subtlety in the word “damn” than in the word “degeneration.”
Most bureaucrats, of course, are incapable of applying Chesterton’s insight, so the Demopublarian plank would be as follows: “No bill will be taken up by Congress before it has been translated into simple English and both presented to Congress and made public at least two weeks before being voted on.”
Don’t bother searching the Internet for the Demopublarian Party website (there is none), for ways to donate to that cause (there are none), or for a slate of candidates in the next election (there will be none). Yet in spite of the ethereal nature of this new political entity, one can hope that the ideas advanced here will find support among the electorate. As a committed Demopublarian, I certainly do.
Copyright © 2013 by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. All rights reserved