Originally posted by Two Steps Forward
What isn't true is that the D-Rs supported small government generally (only w/r/t the feds),
Fair point, I have been primarily focused on federal politics here, but you're right. Obviously in rural states the D-Rs had to get a bit liberal to
keep the vote of the common dirt-farmer. The stay acts on forclosures are a good example.
or that the D-Rs represented the typical working man. It's more accurate to say that the D-Rs/Democrats represented rural interests
(including the big slaveowning planters -- far from "working people"), while the Federalists, Whigs, and Republicans represented the urban
Again this is fair. I would probably rephrase more liberally, something along the lines of "were identified with by the common man". You are again
correct that parties always tend to go where the money is and let the common man closest to their position come along on his own. Still it is a fact
that early on the American working man in the prevailing part of the nation was a simple farmer, and his vote is one of the major factors that kept
the rural-favoring D-Rs in power.
In the early days of our nation, working people in the sense of hired industrial workers weren't much of a political force;
Agreed, my point is that the working man was more commonly a dirt farmer than an industrial laborer in an urbanized area, up until revolutions in
transportation, communcation, and industry in the 19th century began to diversify the "working class" in the North (while the South remained
primarily a rural agricultural economy for quite a while, hence the "Solid South", where the working class was not diverse enough to make elections
No American political party except the Libertarians has ever truly represented "small government."
In consideration of state levels as well as federal you are mostly correct, unless I'm forgetting one of the transient third parties.
A nation generally has the amount of government that it needs given its diversity, population, and complexity of culture.
I would agree in terms of actual government (which has to be elected) although parties will sometimes advocate a level of government which is either
above or below the need-point, which probably is a significant factor in the formation of ages of dominance.
In addition to divergence from the needed amount of instrusion, the type of intrusion is obviously a factor, and at present this is probably where
most of the difference between our parties exists. This can create obvious point-of-view biases. People who are geographically or demographically
positioned in such a way as to not recieve as much of the benefit of intrusion, while still carrying part of the burden, will have a different
perspective of what the level of intrusion is. This is where I think some of the minor errors or generalizations in my first post come from.
The Constitution actually authorizes a level of intrusive government that no American would want, but doesn't require that this be
True, but it limits the ends for which such means might be pursued. This could hypothetically set upper and lower limits on intrusion at a given time,
although those limits will shift with circumstances.
Being old enough to have lived through the 1960s and half of the 1950s, I can definitely attest that this is not the first time that national security
has been on the front burner.
My statement that we are in the midst of a shift to focus on national security refers at the very least to the beginning of the Reagan administration,
with obvious precursors to that shift in the late 40s and 50s, although I would argue that national security had close competition with social and
economic issues through the 60s and 70s, again in the 90s, and possibly yet again in 2006 or 2008.
I think it's fair to say, though I'd be interested in your opinion on the matter, that National Security really didn't break through as the
dominant issue until the Reagan and Bush 41 Administrations, and wasn't really observed to slip again (when you consider the Perot factor) until the
1994 and 1996 elections.
In fact, by comparison to the Cold War at its height, today's obsession with security is tame and halfway.
In terms of social attitudes or actual policy. However worried we may have been about the Soviet Union, I'm primarily interested in what actually got
people elected and what they did with their office.
From Korea to the Bay of Pigs, perhaps, but my understanding (which may not be extensive enough) is that social and economic agendas dominated at the
very least through the Johnson and and Nixon administrations, unless of course we characterize Vietnam as security concern that won elections and
enjoyed top priority with policy makers, which I obviously doubt. I could give Kennedy and Ford the benefit of the doubt, even though many of their
"national security" moments, were thrust upon them either by previous administrations or foreign action (Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Koh
Tang). Nor would I call Carter a foreign policy president by any stretch of the imagination, despite Iran and the occasional kissing of Communist
I definitely don't agree that this is a permanent shift, although we do have an issue since the end of World War II regarding the degree and
type of U.S. international intervention.
I would certainly not contend that any shift is permanent, and I actually believe that the dominance of foreign policy is prepared to meet an early
death, if it hasn't begun to already. I expect foreign adventures and meddling for economic purposes over the course of the next 20 years,
particularly with respect to East Africa, South America, and India, but my expectations have less to do with national security and more to do with
resource prices, particularly cement, metals, uranium, etc if and when the continued increase in natural gas and oil prices creates a need for new
development of energy infrastructure and a switch to concrete for most paving.
Well, that would be nice, wouldn't it? Unfortunately, the more usual trend where money influences politics to the degree it does in America, is that
everybody represents big business and nobody represents the people.
Again I am bitten by the same generalization as I was with respect to D-Rs. It has generally been my position that neither party first and foremost
represents the interests of the people, but generally one of the parties will be considered more friendly to the people while it goes on following the
money. I believe that while many democratic voters would identify their party as that of the people, a lesser percent of republican voters would do
so, and voters on each side would characterize the other as the representitive of an aloof elite. If I am correct in this, which I have gathered from
my observation both online and in the news media as well as in personal conversations, then the sum of a poll would indicate that while most Americans
identify the political parties as serving financial interests first and foremost, there would be one party which was heavily considered to
accidentally be the closest thing to a "party of the people" at the same time.
The Democratic Leadership Council, which took control of the Democratic Party with Clinton's election (although they may be losing it now),
made the Democrats a party just as corporatist as the Republicans, and defined the differences between the parties purely in terms of social
In light of that I'd be very interested in your views on the thread I linked to several posts above, titled "Fear and Partisanship: Stealing your
Liberty to make you vote"
I think it bears mentioning though that even though the Democrats found a new place to sell out (as if they hadn't already when they took us to
Vietnam for the Military Industrial Complex) that the Clinton years have been sold by the media as a golden age of prosperity for the common man. I
believe this illustrates my contention that even while doing what politicians do, one party or the other can generally be accepted, despite whatever
the truth may be, as the party of the common man by virtue of advocating government intrusion in the areas which the majority of the population is
willing to stomach.
This is what corporate America would call a "politically safe" situation -- no matter who wins, they win.
Double-safe in the age of electronic voting. They get to choose the greater of two evils.
A quibble: the equation of "liberal" with "big government" and "conservative" with "small government" is an invention of self-serving
conservatives, and is false.
Or perhaps a matter of point-of-view bias, to put it more gently.
I have conservative leanings because conservatives, sellouts as they may be, have generally given away less of my money for causes that I do not share
in, have not said as many bad things about my firearm, etc.
On the opposite side fo the same coin, perhaps the overall level of conservative intrusion has not changed, but only the areas in which they intrude,
which would explain my perception of a shift as they begin to spend my money on wars that aren't making me safer, among other things.
Cynical young person.
I have very little beef with that description of my view on political stances on education, except to say that just because I'm paranoid doesn't
mean that they aren't out to get me.
Regarding Amendment 10: You might consider this amendment in light of the process that led to the Bill of Rights in the first place. It's
common in our political discourse to attribute these amendments to the framers of the Constitution, but that's incorrect. They were framed by, and
demanded by, the anti-federalists, and the Constitution advocates agreed to them under protest and as a condition of ratification.
I am aware. My first semester in college pretty well turned my view of America's founding fathers on its head and raised questions that at times I'm
still almost afraid to address. Emotionally I side with Jefferson almost across the board, but if views like his had reigned throughout American
history I believe that I would probably not enjoy the life that I do today, if America had maintained independence at all.
A close examination of Article I, Section 8 shows some very vague empowering language that allows the federal government to do almost anything
it wants. It can levy taxes in any amount, and by implication spend the money it levies on anything, as long as the taxes are uniform by state and it
can justify the taxing and spending as intended to "pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United
It is precisely the requirement of "for the general Welfare" which should in large part safeguard us against excessive government intrusion,
although in practice this has not worked very well, since our Constitution has a high level of malleability thanks to the SCOTUS.
In 1936, in US v Butler
the Supreme Court ruled that the General Welfare Clause could not be used to justify taxes affecting local as opposed
to national interests. (Specifically the case dealt with part of the New Deal- the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act- which taxed processors of
agricultural products in order to provide subsidies for farmers as a price support for crops.)
This precedent has not been far-reaching though; the Commerce Clause has picked up a lot of the slack, and social programs which I do not view as
fundementally different from that stuck down in Butler
have been protected by the General Welfare Clause by virtue of their geographic
But the 10th amendment contains no such affirmative restrictions. It merely says that whatever powers are not granted to the federal
government are reserved to the states or to the people. The problem being that the language of the Constitution grants, in potential, ALL powers to
the federal government, leaving NOTHING reserved to the states or to the people!
Only under the most absurd of Supreme Courts (far in excess of anything even the 9th Circuit would likely tollerate, IMHO) could this be true. Such
absurdity could fo course arise. I believe the inevitable conclusion of the social contract theory is that the individual is ultimately sovreign and
that laws are essentially treaties. It is axiomatic that treaties only endure while they are mutually beneficial, and at some point one party or
another is bound to renneg on its obligations, at which point war often results where the ramifications are severe enough.
Shy of such an astounding hijacking of the conglomeration of documents (the constitution itself and the several amendments) which despite their
separate origins enjoy equal an equal status as components of a single body of law, the 10th Amendment clearly protects state and individual rights in
many respects which could only be related to national concerns by the most obtuse sophistry. Most personal actions such as marriage, sexual conduct,
abortion, and virtually every individual right promised in the Bill of Rights (which does not establish federal authority over those rights, even in
the event that those amendments were repealed) etc cannot be compellingly argued as proper objects of federal control.
Even your 100% tax is highly questionable, though not explicitly ruled out, as the federal government has only the authority to regulate interstate
commerce, but not to organize or mandate it. Therefore the federal government is of highly questionable authority to prevent the establishment of
localized economies in circumvention of such a tax, except by a ludicrous extension of the precedent that domestic production influences interstate
demand and therefore may be prohibited.
Clearly any such drastic interpretation of the Constitution, possible as it may be through ambiguity, is tantamount to any international instance in
which a nation takes aggressive action by intentional misrepresentation of its treaty obligations, and would be legitimately subject to corrective
action. In simpler terms, I believe you and I both know there'd be a war over such a thing and that the government would likely either fail to
accomplish its objective or fall completely.
I appreciate your input, it's nice to have someone so bright bring this thread back to life. In large part I agree with you as far as semantics are
concerned, but in practice I believe that their are obvious limits which keep our constitution serviceable, though not perfect, as a guide American
government. On the same note, our parties, while generally disagreeable, are what we have to work with and can be worked with to at least marginal
effect- to generalize them as polar opposites as I have risked is a bit of a stretch, but there are differences. I consider them a pair of bodies
orbiting an imperfect but workable line, each taking its turn on the better side here and there and now and then.
And now, if Big 5 isn't already closed, I think I'll go price a .357 before the Democrats retake congress.