On Republicans and Democrats
The US Constitution never mentions political parties. These organizations emerged over time as the newly democratic country matured. Eventually, the two-party-system evolved and each developed an adversarial relationship based on philosophical differences in how each defined the nature and purpose of government in the regulation of American society.
From the Republican perspective, government should be nothing more than a foundation, a guideline structure, by which culture should be allowed to grow and develop. The backbone, Private Industry, is based on competition and democratic ideals. The purpose of government should be to provide an atmosphere where the growth of private enterprise is secured and equal opportunity is provided for all to compete in a level playing field.
It defines this process through Capitalism. It doesn’t (on paper) believe in a government that controls or dictates, but rather oversees in a loose but structured foundation how society conducts itself. When aspects of the society threaten to challenge the nature of the playing field (by favoring one segment over another) then the intervention of government is, according to their views, needed.
However the reality has been that the Republican system has tended to favor positions that act to ensure that the private sector maintains its “backbone” status, even at the expense of the rest of the population. It believes that to allow the private sector to be compromised would eventually threaten the nature of Free Enterprise, and the American Ideal, for the rest of the population. So goes the rationalization of favoritism towards the private sector.
Republicans do not believe that the purpose of government is to solve all the problems created by society, but to encourage society and the private sector to solve them on their own. Hence, social programs are not part of its mandate since it is not the purpose of government (as it defines it) to create welfare for the poor, medicare or Medicaid, or even a health care system which is controlled by the government.
Government, it believes, should be less centralized and more focused on States Rights and their ability to conduct their own affairs. They believe in a central government serving as an overseer to maintain the equality of each states’ rights in relation to each other, and with State governments treatment of municipalities.
An exception to the concept of states rights over a strong central government has been in foreign policy, where the nature of the evolving geo-political realities have forced, over time, a strong central government, headed by a more powerful president then first envisioned by a Constitution created in the eighteenth century with its different political realities.
The problem with the Republican Party is that in recent years, it has been so influenced and integrated by the religious right that its fundamental purpose has been compromised and threatens to distort the line that separates Church and State.
In my opinion, this is a serious transgression of the intent of the framers of the Constitution, and it puts the very democratic ideals that this country holds so dear directly at risk. The Republican party needs to seriously re-evaluate this recent turn of events, because it has the capability of destroying the two-party system.
The Democratic Party, the more recent of the two, emerged as a dominant party from WW2 and its aftermath, and the need for a stronger centralized government to improve the life of the average American, and to help rebuild a devastated Europe.
The Democrats believe in most of the above ideals of the Republican Party, with some differences. They believe that a central government should be stronger and more involved directly in the affairs of society, and to ensure that no one is left out of the “American Dream”. They also believe in a strong private sector, as long as it’s not at the expense of the general population.
It was the Democrats that began Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Welfare, believing that part of the responsibility of government should be to guarantee a basic, minimal level for the American people. In recent years, the Democratic Party has failed to be the appropriate counter-balance to the Republican Party, especially since the infusion of the religious right has distorted the balance between the two parties and their ability to negotiate with each other.
The antipathy between the parties is now so intense that the ability to rise above party politics is almost impossible. The influence of the religious right complicates the ability of the parties to find a common ground, by using religion to infer that the Republicans’ approach is more righteous then the Democrats. This, in my opinion, is the direct result of the Republican Party’s failure to counteract the infiltration of the religious right into its political philosophy.
They have neglected to recognize not only where the separation of church and state should be, but they have challenged the very need for its existence, by allowing their philosophy to be directly controlled by religious influences.
Within each party, there are conservative, moderate, and liberal wings, and it seems that a liberal Democrat works better with a liberal Republican – where their philosophies are more congruent than with the other wings of their own party. But in my opinion, the best approach is the moderate one, of either party, because that is where the majority of the electorate seem to be.
I for one will never identify with any party since my approach to life is consistent with an eclectic approach, believing that it’s important to look at a wide range of issues from as varied a perspective as possible.
It’s up to each individual to decide how they view issues based on their own political reality, and it is imperative in this coming election not to be swayed by irrelevant issues that the fringes of either party may throw out to obscure the real issues. Remember to vote.