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« Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and the Great American Debate | Main | Jasper and the Obamacare Website Rollout »


Government-Power-Civility

By Ken Poland
November 6, 2013

Angelo, you're last post was a good one ! However, the comparisons of liberal and conservative political interests and priorities are not easily identified or in line with either Hamilton or Jefferson.

Yes, I am identified as a liberal in today's political environment. I, therefore, seem to be a little more tolerant of the failures of the liberal philosophies to address all the social needs of society. The truth is, I'm not inclined to try forcing my religious and moral standards on everyone else. Neither am I inclined to allow someone else to determine my individual standards for myself. We are all entitled to our own opinions and priorities

Today, those wanting strong central government (Hamiltonians ?) biggest issue is who controls that central government. And, in what areas the central government has dictatorial powers. They differ with Hamilton in that they don't want the power of that central government vested in the wealthy gentry that dominate the industrial and business segment of society. Employees and small entrepreneurial individuals had very little representation in Hamilton's structure of centralized government.

The liberals (progressives) want equal representative influence by minorities, all genders and sexual preferences, equality of economic policies, etc. They want open access to voting privileges with as little inconvenience or restrictions as possible. They have no problem with voter registration and verification that isn't aimed at disenfranchising the lower income and educational status of citizens. They want a strong central government that protects religious liberty and does not favor any faith groups over any other groups.

Liberals, in general, trust a strong central government's broader base of electors to prevent local inequities, where minorities can be ignored. They are not fearful of government regulation and enforcement of policies designed to protect individuals from unfair business practices and shoddy purity of products.

Today, those wanting less government (Jeffersonians ?) biggest problem is in deciding what less government actually is. They want less power of government to regulate business practices. But, they want more government protection from international policies that restrict environmental hazards. They don’t want tax reform that doesn't have loopholes in business deductions and income categories. They don't want government enforcing equal protection of employee's safety and benefits. They want to continue government expenditures that benefit corporate entities and wealthy consumers. They want to eliminate subsidies and benefits that are directed at the individual needs of children, elders, disabled, unemployed, uneducated, immigrants, and social misfits of society. They want less government protection of religious liberty for those who don't share their particular religious dogma.

Today's Tea Party Conservatives more nearly identify with Reagonomics and the Civil War era of Southern Democrats. The 'tricledown theory' is an absolute misrepresentation of economic fact and statistics. No business exists for the sole purpose of providing employment. Those individuals who have been successful in amassing great wealth are not inclined to share their wealth for the benefit of those members of society who are down and out. Sure, there are individual exceptions, but in general, wealth does not enhance compassion. Bottom line profit is the major incentive driving corporate values and ethics. The 'Tea Party' leadership and spokesmen are not interested in promoting opportunity and justice for the masses. They are primarily interested in preserving status, wealth, and prestige for the 'upper class' and elite members of society.

Jefferson, Hamilton, Monroe, Adams, Franklin, and others were true statesmen. They didn't agree on all issues, but were able to debate and compromise to serve the greater needs of society. Down through the years, government has swayed between liberal and conservative issues, but, in the end the extremists seldom ever ruled the day. Federal power, State's rights, and individual rights have always been an issue. The pendulum has swung in favor of one and then the other, but in the end it always has managed to keep its rhythm and time has moved steadily on. Today, we have few true statesmen. Special interests dominate the agenda and we have an erratic rhythm that disrupts all of society.

Diane gave us a good article addressing ‘civility’. Our legislators from the first congress on down have had moments of incivility. Name calling, challenges and actual duels, fist fights, and canings were frequently endured. But, those disruptions usually were brief and the rest of the legislators didn’t join in on the fracas. Today, we don’t see or hear of much physical violence in the chambers, but name calling and outright misrepresentation of facts is a daily occurrence. Party loyalty takes precedence over individual integrity and responsibilty to society.


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