Truth about Republican, Democratic parties
Posted: March 23, 1999
1:00 a.m. Eastern
Last week WorldNetDaily columnist David Limbaugh received the question, "Why vote at all, when there is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans?" He responded by arguing that the Republicans care more about your freedom than the Democrats do. But to pull this off, he had to resort to a number of myths about the Republican Party. Here are some of them:
Myth: "Had the 1994 Republican Congress failed to reign in spending, we would not be approaching a balanced budget today, something the naysayers said was impossible."
Truth: The last four budgets passed by a Democratic Congress enlarged the federal government by 14.4 percent. The four budgets the Republican Congress passed have enlarged the federal government by 13.9 percent. This could hardly be called "reigning in spending." In fact, the first three Republican budgets increased spending faster than the Democratic budgets.
Myth: "Democratic presidential frontrunner Al Gore's vision of America includes an even more intrusive federal government. Just this week, he promised federal intervention to micromanage such local problems as traffic control. Patrick Henry is rolling over in his grave."
Truth: The federal government already micromanages traffic control -- and rapid transit and local highways and auto specifications and almost everything else related to your car. Republicans voted for these intrusions. Why should you believe they will suddenly start opposing such boondoggles? Calvin Coolidge is rolling over in his grave.
Myth: "Democrats favor injecting more federal money into education and increasing federal control over local school decisions. Republicans favor less federal control and the adoption of school-choice measures with the belief that added competition will improve the quality of public and private schools."
Truth: Democrats and Republicans both take your money. Both believe the federal government should decide how your school system should operate. They argue only over how to spend your money. Neither party says your money shouldn't go to Washington in the first place. Neither suggests getting the federal government completely out of education -- as the Constitution demands. Neither proposes to repeal the income tax, so you can use what you earn to put your child in any school you want.
Myth: "With the tantalizing prospect of budget surpluses, Democrats are already champing at the bit to repeal legislatively imposed spending caps that have been instrumental in bringing the federal budget nearly into balance for the first time in three-plus decades. Republicans insist on adhering to the caps."
Truth: Republican Congressmen have already busted the budget caps -- when they approved the 1999 budget, when they voted the biggest farm subsidies in history (three years after voting to "phase out" farm subsidies), when they vote year after year to make government more expensive for you, more intrusive into your life, more and more like Big Brother.
Myth: "Republicans advocate saving Social Security by programs involving partial privatization. Clinton and his cohorts stringently oppose privatization and favor instead a shell game involving a double counting, accounting scam that uses non-existent budget surpluses (which are actually temporary Social Security surpluses)."
Truth: Talk about a shell game! The Republican con game will have you paying the exorbitant Social Security tax for the rest of your working life -- while the Republicans dangle in front of you the carrot that Social Security will be privatized in some sweet bye and bye. (Republican Sen. Phil Gramm's proposal will privatize Social Security over 60 years!) If you don't believe in reincarnation, the Republicans have nothing to offer you.
Myth: "Republicans advocate overhauling the Medicare system with elements of privatization and reductions in automatic cost increases. ... Clinton Democrats still support socialized medicine."
Truth: Yes, Democrats support socialized medicine -- and so do Republicans. The Republican Congress passed the Kennedy-Kassenbaum bill and the Kennedy-Hatch bill -- each giving the federal government more authority over your health, your doctor, and your insurance company. Is this how Republicans protect us from socialized medicine?
Myth: "Clinton has systematically emasculated the military while expanding our commitments throughout the world."
Truth: President Clinton has been exploiting the precedents set by Ronald Reagan and George Bush -- waging wars unconstitutionally without declarations by Congress. Do you remember the Republican incursions into Libya, Nicaragua, Granada, El Salvador, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Panama, the Philippines? The Republicans invented the idea that any problem in the world is an excuse for the U.S. military to intervene. If Clinton's actions have put us in danger -- and they have -- it's because he's using policies and precedents established by his Republican predecessors.
Myth: "Republicans since Reagan have supported a strategic missile defense initiative to protect the nation against burgeoning nuclear threats from numerous countries."
Truth: Republican Richard Nixon signed the ABM Treaty, outlawing a missile defense. No Republican, not even Ronald Reagan, has done anything concrete to provide such a defense -- which probably would be the one truly sensible military policy. Instead, 15 years after Ronald Reagan raised the missile-defense issue, billions of dollars have been spent and we aren't one step closer. Why didn't Ronald Reagan demand it? Why hasn't the Republican Congress demanded it? Why are we still vulnerable to any two-bit dictator who can get his hands on a nuclear missile? Probably because the vulnerability is used to justify a multitude of big-government military programs that Republicans and Democrats impose upon us.
Myth: "Only after the recent revelations concerning China's theft and development of nuclear delivery technology are the Democrats beginning to come around on this vital issue."
Truth: The Democrats have proposed a sham defense that will make us no safer from a missile attack. As with so many fake reforms, the Republicans support it -- and claim credit for bringing it about.
Myth: "Had defeatist Republicans prevailed in 1980, Ronald Reagan would never have been nominated nor elected ... We might still be fighting the Cold War."
Truth: Historians still argue over what caused the Great Depression; so I'm sure they'll argue beyond our lifetime over what ended the Cold War. The one certain conclusion, that the Republican legend Ronald Reagan started an arms race that bankrupted the Communists -- makes no sense. Why would the Soviets spend more than they have to? Republicans tell us Reagan's missile-defense proposal was too much for the Soviets. Why? The U.S. did nothing to implement it, and the Soviets didn't have to match a non-existent program.
When historians investigate the causes of the Soviet Union's downfall, there are many leads I hope they follow. Why in 1989 did the Hungarian government open its borders to allow East Germans and Hungarians to flee to Austria, causing the Berlin Wall to come down three months later? Why didn't Soviet officials stop their citizens from using telephones and fax machines to get information from the West? Why did Mikhail Gorbachev push Glasnost so far -- while still proclaiming himself a dedicated Communist? Was it simply old age that caused an unworkable 70-year-old system to collapse?
Whatever they find, it won't be that expanding our government, taking away our freedoms, running up huge debts, and copying the Communist system were the keys to winning the Cold War.
Myth: "Conservative Republicans favor tax cuts to spur sustained economic growth, and because they believe the people's money should be restored to them."
Truth: Republicans do nothing to reduce the size of government or restore money to you. Because they won't reduce government spending, the "tax cuts" only rearrange the burden of big government.
Myth: "Had defeatist Republicans prevailed in 1980, Ronald Reagan would never have been ... able to pass legislation reducing top marginal income tax rates from 70 percent to 28 percent."
Truth: And four years later Republicans voted to increase tax rates. Government grew by two thirds during Ronald Reagan's eight years as President. The one thing Ronald Reagan did that was both important and good for us was to abolish U.S. price controls on oil and natural gas -- destroying the power of the OPEC cartel. Strangely, the Republicans never mention his one real achievement.
Myth: "Democrats still want to appoint activist federal judges, while Republicans want strict constructionists."
Truth: Republican Presidents have appointed bad judges from Earl Warren to David Souter -- just as Democrats have. Some of the Democratic judges have at least respected parts of the Bill of Rights and protected our civil liberties, while taking away our economic freedoms. Republican judges, on the other hand, have taken away our civil liberties without respecting our economic freedom.
Myth: "And the GOP is pro-life and ardently supportive of the Second Amendment."
Truth: From the Brady Bill to the promised repeal of the assault weapons ban, Republicans have caved in on one Second Amendment issue after another. As for abortion, it's the #1 posturing and fund-raising issue for Republicans, but those who oppose abortion would be hard pressed to discover anything Republican politicians have done to actually reduce abortions in America.
Myth: "Our children deserve to be bequeathed an America that continues to blossom in political freedom and economic prosperity, and that still aspires to be a nation under God."
Truth: If that's true, you'd better get off the Republican plantation before your children grow up. So long as the Republican politicians know they have your vote locked up, they have no incentive to do anything to advance any of the goals they proclaim.
The greatest assets for the Republicans are the Democrats. Republicans make government bigger and take away more of your freedoms -- and then blame it on the Democrats. They try to scare you by pointing to Democrats like Al Gore or Hillary Clinton: "Vote Republican or the bogeymen will get you." The Democrats use the same tactics -- trying to peddle the idea that the Religious Right will steal your children in the middle of the night.
But whichever side scares you most, you never get what you vote for. You vote for Democrats because you want greater personal freedom -- and they reward you by trying to censor the Internet, putting a V-chip in your TV set, and abolishing the Fourth Amendment. Or you vote for Republicans because you want greater economic freedom -- and they reward you by passing bigger highway bills, bigger farm bills, bigger budgets, more corporate welfare, and just plain bigger government.
The parties assume that you and other stalwarts will never abandon them. But they're wrong. Both parties are suffering wholesale desertions -- and the voter turnout sinks lower and lower with every election.
If you really want your vote to count, join the desertions from the two-party system and vote for what you really want. Imagine voting Libertarian and seeing the Libertarian get 10-15 percent of the vote -- scaring the old parties into making real changes.
Myth: "Those who advocate not voting should look at the 1998 congressional elections for proof of the consequences of quitting."
Truth: People who don't vote have come to the sensible understanding that their votes make no difference. Why should they continue voting when they never get what they want?
The consequences of the 1998 congressional elections are simple: government will continue to grow, as it has for the past 70 years -- which is what happens no matter which party wins any election.
Myth: "They should examine Ross Perot's impact on the 1992 presidential election if they are tilting at third-party windmills."
Truth: Ross Perot's 19 percent vote in 1992 proved that Americans desperately want a third party that will break the stranglehold the Republicans and Democrats have imposed on our lives. Ross Perot and Jesse Ventura have helped Americans realize that a real third party, with real proposals to reduce government to a fraction of its present size (unlike Ross Perot's proposals to make big government more efficient), has a chance to win eventually in America.
Myth: "Freedom requires responsibility, and not voting is an abdication of that responsibility. Those who drop out, cop out. Abandoning the fight is no different from joining the other side."
Truth: Freedom is the opportunity to live your life as you want to live it. It imposes no responsibility to vote for people who take your money and use it to destroy your children's education, your health-care opportunities, and your liberties. In fact, freedom involves no responsibility to vote at all -- certainly when you see no candidate who will provide what you want.
Fortunately, the Libertarian Party is now three times the size it was at this point in the 1996 election cycle. It will be running more than 1,000 candidates in 2000 -- and its presidential campaign should be far better financed and much more visible than its 1996 campaign was. Finally, you will have a real choice.
Republicans will continue to campaign like Libertarians while governing like Democrats. But in 2000 you'll be able to choose the real McCoy -- Libertarians who want to reduce government far enough to free you from the income tax entirely, replacing it with nothing, to free you immediately from the fraudulent 15 percent "Social Security" tax, and to make your neighborhood safe by ending the nightmare of drug prohibition.
Myth: "Just because the Republican Party isn't everything we want it to be is no excuse to quit. We must stay engaged and fight to ensure the party remains conservative."
Truth: Republicans excuse their failings by saying we must elect more conservatives. In the 1950s, when Republican President Dwight Eisenhower set up the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and other Democratic-style monstrosities, Republicans said, "We must elect more conservatives." When Republican Richard Nixon imposed wage and price controls, the EPA, and dozens of other new big-government programs, Republican stalwarts said, "We must elect more conservatives."
When the quintessential conservative Ronald Reagan, aided by a Republican Senate, never proposed to reduce the size of government by even a single dollar, and as the federal government grew by two thirds in eight years, we were told "We must elect more conservatives."
So for 45 years Republicans have been saying that all will be well as soon as we elect more conservatives. I don't know about you, but I can't wait another 45 years.
Republican politicians are power-junkies -- just as Democrats are. And the "enablers" are those who permit them to indulge their addiction to power -- finding excuses for every life the Republicans wreck with big government.
If you don't want your vote to count, continue voting Democratic or Republican -- rewarding the politicians for stealing more of your money and more of your freedom. If you want your vote to mean something, send a message in 2000: vote Libertarian and hope the Libertarians get 10-15 percent of the vote.
That will reform the Republican and Democratic parties faster than the election of a thousand conservatives.
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Harry Browne is the director of public policy at the American Liberty Foundation. You can read more of his articles and find out about his network radio show at HarryBrowne.org.