Opportunity and Responsibility

Before 2000, when politics were less polarized, I used to observe that given two candidates, one Republican and one Democrat, who were about evenly matched on the issues, I would vote for the Democrat.  I noted that while the Republican was a little closer to my views on the principles, the Democrat seemed more like the person I’d prefer to see in office: a little more humble, a little more trustworthy.

Some time after 2001 I read the thought somewhere that Republicans view power primarily as an opportunity, while Democrats see it more as a responsibility.

In our current debt-ceiling brouhaha, the Republicans like to point out that now-President Obama voted against a debt-ceiling increase while a Senator during the Bush administration.  But the Democrats relented then, at least partially because they saw maintaining a functioning government as part of their responsibility, even if a President they didn’t agree with was spending too much.

Since I last wrote, not much has changed in the current debt-ceiling drama, except that both sides have hardened their positions, and our President has gone out on a limb and suggested raising the retirement age for Social Security and making other entitlement tweaks.  But he isn’t supported by Democratic Congressional leadership, while the Republicans absolutely insist that there be no new taxes, because that kills jobs.

(There is a cogent rebuttal to that: the economy has become fractured, which portions doing really well, and most of us having trouble.  In that case, it is reasonable for the government to seek to fund itself by taxing the part doing really well more heavily.  Note that we’re not doing this to set up new programs, but to keep the promises we’ve already made.)

Some radicals on the right have suggested that we should ‘starve the beast’ and relentlessly cut taxes until government can no longer function.  The Republicans have the opportunity to do that now.  They can remake government in their own image, if they can just tough it out for…

16 days.

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