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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Politics? Is This The Right Blog?

I'm not a very political person -just ask my friends who try to engage me in political debate! However, I am every bit as concerned as the next guy about the state of our country. I don't blame our president for the many messes we are mired in, but I am disappointed by his apparent impotence to get us moving in a positive direction. Having said that, I think we should get behind our leaders (who I truly believe are doing what they think is best for our country) until it's time to replace them, if it comes to that. American citizens whose goal is simply to disrupt our leadership because they are unhappy with that leadership do us all harm. My point is more eloquently made by Blake Ashby (a Republican from St Louis) in the attached article from the St Louis Post-Dispatch:

"It bothers me that the Tea Partiers spend so much time questioning the president's patriotism and love of country. There was a time when Americans, after an election, rallied around their president, hoping that, regardless of party, he would do a good job for the country. That is what used to be called patriotism.

Now the Tea Partiers actively are hoping for President Obama's failure and doing everything within their power to ensure he does fail, even if it means four years of failure for the Unites States. They have convinced themselves that this somehow is patriotic.

The Tea Partiers justify their attacks on the president by claiming that he does not believe in freedom. But they seem to have no understanding of the role of government in creating freedom. One Tea Partier claimed in an editorial that, "When the government grows, individual liberty withers." Nothing could be farther from the truth or more removed from our actual history.

The most basic premise of civilization is that we all give up some of our freedom in nature in exchange for greater freedom to live our lives. Absolute freedom generally was believed to lead to a life that was nasty, brutish and short.

Our Founding Fathers moved from a weak Articles of Confederation to a much stronger central government with the Constitution. Clearly, they did not believe that every extension of government power comes at the expense of individual freedom.

This isn't an abstract argument. Three hundred million Americans have given up the freedom to use half of the roads in this country at any given time by agreeing to drive on the right-hand side of the road. We generally find the trade-off acceptable because doing so gives us more freedom.

The Tea Partiers claim that almost every act of the Obama administration is a step toward socialism, with the recently passed health care reform bill as a primary example. Again, there is little connection between their claims and reality.

Before the health care bill passed, the government paid for 45 percent of health care in the United States and had yards of regulations on how the other 55 percent was spent. When the reform bill is implemented, government might pay an estimated 50 percent of health care and will have another couple of feet of regulations for the rest. Is that really a radical transformation of our system?

The Tea Partiers are furious about the individual mandate to buy insurance. But government already mandates that hospital emergency rooms have to save people who can't afford to pay the cost of being treated. Is it really that much of a stretch for the government to mandate that people must have insurance so the hospital gets paid? Does this justify calling the president a socialist and trying to undermine him?

Former President George W. Bush, by adding the Medicare prescription drug benefit, expanded the government's responsibility for and control of health care far more than President Obama has. To my knowledge, none of the Tea Partiers called President Bush a socialist. Nor did they call him a socialist when he was radically expanding government subsidies for agriculture or creating the Troubled Asset Relief Program legislation or any number of other actions that increased the power of government.

The health care reform bill is not good legislation, and I am not suggesting it is. But Tea Partiers were intent on ensuring that only the worst bill could pass, and they succeeded.

The Tea Partiers are intent on undermining every act and effort of the Obama administration, arguing that it is their patriotic duty to do so.

It didn't used to be this way. It used to be that when a president was elected you supported him and hoped he did a good job for our country. You respected the right of the majority to choose the president and afforded that president the opportunity to lead.

I don't doubt that the Tea Partiers love our country. But I wish they would take a step back from their anger and realize it is not just the president of the United States they are undermining. It is the institution of democracy."

Blake Ashby is a University City entrepreneur and a longtime Republican.

Posted in Opinion, Columns on Thursday, August 12, 2010 12:00 am Updated: 5:52 pm. | Tags: Commentary, Tea Party

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