David Harsanyi and I are on the same wavelength in our columns today. Both of us note that the argument presented at the beginning of the Democratic National Convention, that “government is the one thing we all belong to,” was no misstatement but a clear delineation of the philosophy undergirding the Democratic platform. Harsanyi takes a more practical look at the Democrats’ odd take on the “ownership society” and their refusal to talk about its costs:
Government is the only thing we all belong to — but, don’t worry, you won’t have to pay for any of it. That about sums up the Democratic National Convention’s case to America, a place where whatever isn’t handed to you is actually just being taken away. …
Here you’re free to imply or even say that a Republican is unpatriotic (I’m old enough to remember when that sort of thing was frowned upon) for conducting business outside the country. Here politicians celebrate the president’s courageous ability to use taxpayer funds to bail out a company that can only avoid another bankruptcy (barely) on the strength of foreign sales. This is called “economic patriotism” or, more familiarly, protectionism or, maybe, Hooverism — the kind of ism Democrats once rejected. Forward!
At the DNC, the head of NARAL argues that being allowed to have free abortions on demand is the high point of the American dream. And a woman whose only claim to fame is demanding free condoms is celebrated as a hero. Julian Castro, who I am assured is the charismatic mayor of San Antonio and a serious person, mocks the “magical” free markets that gave Bill Clinton the soaring economy he bragged about Wednesday night and America 25 years of unmatched prosperity.
Harsanyi wishes at least one of the Democratic fantasies was based on reality:
You know the other accusations: Republicans want to privatize, deregulate, voucherize, embrace unfettered free markets and cut government down to the bone. And boy, do I wish any of that were actually true.
At least that way we could pay for Government Club.
In my column today for The Fiscal Times, I take a more philosophical look at the video’s declaration, and explain why it describes Democrats despite their denials of responsibility for the declaration itself:
Americans don’t look to government for unity, and certainly don’t see government as something to which we belong. However, that concept is consistent with the Obama administration’s policies and arguments for a second term, which is another reason to see this as a revelation rather than an aberration.
First, recall what President Obama said about the American economy at the beginning of the summer. “The private sector is doing fine,” he told the White House press corps just after a poor jobs report for May. “Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government.” Unemployment at that time had ticked up to 8.2 percent, and civilian participation rate in the workforce had just hit a 30-year low in April of 63.6 percent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, government employment in May was at the same level as in May 2006 (21.9 million), while private-sector employment was almost 3 million jobs lower than in May 2006 (111.1 million compared to 113.9 million).
Later this summer, Obama notoriously argued that government created the environment for success through infrastructure spending. “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that,” Obama told a crowd in Oakland. Obama later claimed he meant that businesses didn’t build the infrastructure that allowed them to be successful, and that government deserves the credit. But where did government get the capital to build the infrastructure in the first place? From the successful businesses that produced that capital, not from the Progressive Sunshine Forest.
The reference to churches in the video is another interesting point, although not one that Democrats want voters to notice. This administration imposed a mandate on employers to provide free birth control and sterilization to employees, even those employers whose religious values prohibit them from facilitating such access. Explicitly religious organizations such as schools, health care providers, and charities did not get an exemption, either. The message was very similar to what the video argued: you can join a church, but you belong to the government.
And that’s before I get to ObamaCare, with its federal subsidies for health insurance to households earning far above the median income level, or the continually expanding food-stamp program. Be sure to read it all, but here’s my conclusion:
That’s why this convention video is no gaffe, no matter how much the Obama campaign and the DNC try to distance themselves from it. It represents their vision of America, which puts government first – ahead of property, church, liberty. George Bush once talked about an “ownership society” where Americans owned their own property and assets. Democrats want government to be the real ownership society, with themselves in charge of the serfs. Let’s hope that they’ve badly miscalculated the true spirit of the American electorate.
The first rule of Government Club is that no one talks about the costs of Government Club — not in terms of dollars, and especially not in terms of liberty.