I’m watching television and a commercial from a Republican PAC slams Bruce Braley for supporting Democratic initiatives 93% of the time. It states how Braley even supported Obamacare. It also insinuates that Braley is a snob, dislikes farmers and doesn’t care about our veterans.
I yell at the TV a lot, and this moment really had my dander up. “Of COURSE he voted with the Democrats! He’s a Democrat supporting the reasons he’s a DEMOCRAT!”
And even still it wasn’t lockstep (which was the implication) unlike Republicans who haven’t broken rank in 6 years! Braley championed the Farm Bill. He has been a leader for veteran’s benefits. As for the Grassley dig, I, too, would like to see someone who’s studied law head the Judiciary Committee!
Attack ads, bending reality, however, are not the sole domain of Republicans. Not at all. But I yell at the Republican lies most often and I don’t fact check the Democrats with the same enthusiasm. Just as Republicans yell at the TV when commercials supporting Democrats tear down Republicans.
I read a conservative blog yesterday about how the Obama Administration has been the most extreme realization in history of “government overreach.” It cited the Affordable Care Act as the preeminent example.
“Government is now controlling the most fundamental right of individual freedom,” it stated, “our right to care for our very own bodies.”
Actually what the blogger is establishing is their right to NOT care for their own body. Hypocrisy always illuminates like a sailor’s beacon in my occipital lobe and I yelled (again with the yelling!) “Yeah, just like conservatives want to control a woman’s most fundamental right: the right to determine her own pregnancy!”
But, that was not the double standard that actually gnawed at me at this particular moment. The one that stuck in my craw and gave me a rash resembling shingles was a casuistry that is shared by both sides. It is how we program ourselves to believe-in-what-those-we-believe-in-tell-us-about-those-we-don’t-believe-in (how’s that for bastardizing a preposition?).
Take the assertion from above that Obamacare (ACA) is “government overreach.” Well…25 years ago, Republicans were calling a similar health insurance mandate a proper use of government to serve the people. 15 years before that President Nixon felt the same way. And about 20 years before that, President Eisenhower asked Congress to fund what he called health “reinsurance.”
Under Eisenhower’s plan, private insurance companies who extended benefits to uninsured Americans would be reimbursed by the federal government.
So…a health insurance mandate didn’t become “government overreach” until it was a Democrat who was doing the reaching.
To gain some perspective (without a liberal bias) let’s say that President George W Bush had decided to act on what the conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, had proposed in 1989 (which Romney later tailored) and passed, with a Republican Congress, a health insurance mandate. What would Democrats have done?
a) Embraced it as needed health insurance reform.
b) Rejected it because it didn’t go far enough toward a single payer platform.
c) b, plus attacked the Act because it commoditized health care to the continued advantage of the insurance industry.
I’m pretty confident the answer would be “c” because that actually was how they kept it off the table.
Now to be fair to my Democratic brothers and sisters, I sincerely believe that we push for alternatives (single payer in this example), while my friends from the Party Formerly Known As Grand Old, feel no such obligation (health care, again being the perfect example) in order to oppose Democrat’s proposals.
The partisan paradigm extends to foreign policy, budgets, debt ceilings, and the national debt. Not one of those categories has seen a singular, historical consistency from either party. In fact…you might be surprised which party has raised the debt ceiling and the national debt the most.
Since 1944 the Debt Ceiling has been raised 94 times. 54 of those were by Republican Presidents.
Here’s some fun with numbers: President Obama has raised the National Debt 52% since taking office. President George W Bush, 101%. President Clinton, 32%, President GHW Bush, 54%….and the Great Tax Emancipator Himself, President Reagan, raised the National Debt a whopping 186%.
Each of those Republican presidents didn’t reform or curtail welfare spending either. Only a Democrat, President Clinton (but, yes, with Republican cooperation) passed TANF that created new limits.
Democrats were not always the Party Against Neoliberal Economics, either. President Clinton, in particular, favored the Greenspan inspired “Hands off! Markets police themselves” approach. President Clinton continued the de-regulation policies, largely put in place during the Reagan years, that ultimately led to the toxicity that crippled the market in 2007-08.
So, here were are. Democrats and Republicans have been opposing what we once supported and supporting many ideas that we once opposed. The deciding factor has been “Who’s in office? Whatever they’re having- I’ll have none of that!”