Liddick: Corrupt culture fuels our polarized politics (column)
September 19, 2016
My advice? Stop obsessing about how polarized politics is. It's not going to get better any time soon; maybe not for years. It's not going to be more civil and political parties are not going to become more amenable to compromise. There are more than three trillion six hundred ninety billion reasons why.
In 2015, the Federal government spent $3.69 trillion. Twenty-two percent, $811 billion, went t defense of all sorts. Six percent paid interest on the national debt. Forty-two percent, $1.55 trillion, was spent on education, health care and welfare. According to Treasury Department figures, that's about nine percent of our entire gross domestic product; a decent chunk of change to spread around to make sure the right people continue to ride the gravy train.
That's the only issue that matters to Washington's professional peddlers of political snake oil: how much of our cash they control, how much power it will buy them and for how long. That is what unites Paul Ryan, Hillary Clinton, Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and their ilk in a blinding, visceral fear and loathing of Donald Trump: there's a chance, however slim, that he will wreck the whole corrupt system.
The ugly truth at the rotten heart of national politics today is that the real division in our country is not between Democrats and Republicans, with independents wobbling between the two. It's the yawning gulf between the great majority of people who get up in the morning, labor long and hard to achieve the shreds of their dreams still within their grasp, and our political leaders who trade on misery, rage and frustration to make their own lives easier and more remunerative. These leaders, whatever their political flavor, have much more in common with each other than with the people whose struggles they profess to understand. Moreover, the gap between the political aristocracy, who see their right to rule as God-given, and the sea of citizens whose job they think it is to shut up and do as they are told, is growing rapidly. In a short while most of us will remember no other system, and the political oligarchy's invisible coup will be complete.
Reduction of the federal government's size, powers and budget is the only way to slow this process. Most of Washington's involvement in health, education and welfare should be returned to the states, along with the people's money. There may be a less efficient way to fund education than sending tax money to Washington so that it may be returned to other states with strings attached by faceless and unaccountable bureaucrats – with a hefty "service charge" deducted – but I don't know what that is. There might be a more opaque and unresponsive way to run healthcare than the slow takeover by government we are now witnessing, courtesy of a law passed before it was read and hedged 'round with thousands of regulations, but I shudder to think what its results might be.
Better to simply give the responsibility and money back, both to the people and those more directly accountable to them, as Donald Trump has proposed. California might want different educational goals than Iowa; they should have them, and pay in accordance thereto. And if the fine citizens of the Golden State discover that their students are unemployable because they lack a useful education, they would be able to more quickly adjust their system than the nation's voters would be to change the "Common Core" curriculum.
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Similar moves could also take heat out of the contentious question of abortion. If this morally questionable practice is really all about "a woman's right to choose," so be it. But that "choice" does not entail a moral right to demand that others fund it. Remove government from the issue and one has what the Left professes to want: a simple, private moral decision, entailing private costs and benefits. From which the Left would recoil in horror, because what they really want is universal acceptance of the practice itself.
A federal government limited to a few areas of endeavor – national defense, infrastructure building, arbitrating disputes among the states and yes – working with industry to ensure reasonably safe food, water and air – would drain Washington D.C. of the oceans of cash it now takes from one group to give another, following the politicians' calculation of self-benefit. Federal politics would become more focused and perhaps calmer. With Donald Trump, there is at least a possibility we can turn in this direction. With Hillary Clinton, there's less than the ghost of a snowball's chance. There's too much money at stake and too much power to buy with it, so government and partisanship will metastasize unchecked.
Want a less-partisan America? Choose wisely this November.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
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