Monday, October 31, 2005

Another revitalization plan for Democrats

The column Dems Can Revitalize Party gives a new plan for rebuilding the electoral fortunes of Democrats. The author deserves credit for outlining a slate of policy proposals to accomplish this goal instead of assuming that the Democratic Party's problems are all essentially a matter of "framing". Unfortunately, this slate of proposals is flawed and in some cases mutually contradictory, and would most likely torpedo the Democratic Party if adopted in full. The author's first point touches on a perpetual Vacuum Energy topic:
First and probably most important, Democrats must restore and articulate the idea that there is a common good and that it entails a commonwealth. That is to say, we all benefit when those who have prospered acknowledge that in addition to their hard work, they have benefited from public investments as well as from their origins and luck. The rich are not entitled, therefore, not to contribute to the common good. This understanding involves repeal of the Bush administration's tax breaks for the richest Americans and a willingness by legislators to forswear pork.
Most of this is just smokescreen for the bald assertion that the current Bush administration's tax breaks should be repealed (with a hat tip to the recently revived anti-pork fad). If you look carefully, you'll see the false assumption made by liberals that one can only contribute to the public good by contributing to an action of government. Conveniently ignored is that fact that the average law-abiding citizen contributes to the public good simply by engaging in his or her ordinary, honest commerce and self-improvement. The author continues with:
Second, Democrats must insist on mandatory public financing for elections. There are two reasons for such a policy: So that rich corporations and individuals cannot hijack the democratic process, buying candidates who are therefore indebted and will serve their interests; and so that public servants do not have to be wealthy or in the pockets of the wealthy to run for office.
The author makes a glaring contradiction with the first point here. The reason the author gives for raising taxes on the rich is that public expenditures for the common good make people indebted to goverment, and thus obligate them to repay the government for its investment. But the author asserts the exact opposite reason for public financing of election campaigns: government financing of an election campaign -- a government expenditure presumably made on behalf of the common good -- frees the recipient from indebtedness of any kind.

Aside from being a new program for revitalization, these proposals are more or less standard Democratic Party beliefs with some standard anti-Bush proposals tacked on. But the real death blow to the Democratic party would be inflicted by one of the later proposals:
Democrats must move swiftly to design and press for the adoption of a national, single-payer health care system that is not beholden to health insurance or drug companies. There is plenty of experience among industrialized countries to help us do this and plenty of evidence that Americans would support such a system, which would reduce health care costs and make health care available to all. Lawmakers would have to be clear that certain kinds of rationing would be required.
I'm not sure if the author realizes how difficult this is going to be. Democratic Presidents since Woodrow Willson have been unsuccessfully trying to enact some kind of national single-payer health care system. FDR at the height of the New Deal could not do it. LBJ at the height of the Great Society could not do it. President Clinton could not do it and what he did try to do almost destroyed his Presidency. A national, single-payer health care system is the closest thing there is to a "kiss of death" from Democrats.

The rest of the article is basically the same mixture of anti-Bush proposals we've been hearing for the past five years along with standard Democratic boilerplate we've been hearing for the past five decades.


Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

I think a national health care system would be a great aspect to our health care system.

3:19 PM  

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