Saturday, February 1, 2014

Leonard Pitts’s Chastising of the GOP’s “Small Government” Hypocrisy Applies Equally to Democrats

The Republican Party is a "political paradox,” observes Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts.

Pitts cites the tragic Texas case of a brain-dead woman on life support to make his case. Marlise Munoz's family wants her removed from support, citing the woman's own instructions against being kept alive by artificial means. But the woman is in the early stage of pregnancy, and state law forbids removing a pregnant woman from life support.

Pitts writes:

Texas . . . prides itself on small government. The idea that citizenry functions best under the least government interference is an article of faith and the prime directive of the Republican Party.

But the state’s interference in this family drama highlights the loophole in that ethos. Its advocates want small government when it comes to regulating firearms, the environment, education, business and taxes. But when it comes to regulating your personal morality, the same people suddenly want government to be the opposite of small.

Regarding Munoz, Pitts asks, "Who among us in the same situation would want somebody to substitute their judgment for ours? . . . What gives [the state] the right?"

It’s a good question, and raises the broader question: Who among us in any situation would want somebody to substitute their judgment for ours? The GOP’s “political paradox” applies equally, in reverse, to the Democrats.

Leaving aside the complex issue of firearms, the Democrats stand for massive regulation of the environment, education, business, and taxes, not to mention healthcare and charity—i.e., virtually the whole of the economy. By "regulation" I mean "the legal imposition or prohibition of courses of private action in which no actual (or intended) rights-violations are evident." What is that if not somebody forcibly substituting their judgment for ours? Why should we be forced, through our taxes, to fund unearned benefits for someone in need; or dictate what health insurance policies individuals must buy; or what wage employers and job-seekers may agree on, or whether or not a private owner can fill in a swamp on his property? In all these areas and more, the same question applies: What gives the state the right?

Of course, despite appearances, the Republicans really don’t want “small”—i.e., fully rights-protecting—government in economic matters, only smaller government (and usually don’t even deliver on that).

That said, each party is a paradox in its own way. At least superficially, America's two major parties are mirror images of each other. Whereas Republicans generally advocate "smaller" government in economic matters, they want heavy regulation in the "personal morals," or social, sphere. The Democrats, for their part, generally want “small government” in the social sphere, while regulating us to death in economic areas of our lives. Neither party firmly, on principle, supports small government; i.e., liberty.

What America needs is a party that rejects both economic and social authoritarianism, and stands consistently for “small government” in all areas of Americans’ lives.

[NOTE: On January 26, the hospital removed the woman from life support to comply with a judge’s order.]

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