Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Wingard Report

Read the following analysis of the philosophical difference between the Democrat and Republican parties. It is very insightful. Then go subscribe to the on-line newsletter from which it came - The Wingard Report. Just email I personally guarantee it is a newsletter you will find worthy of reading every time you find it in your mailbox (unlike most every other newsletter you probably get.)

Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are from Venus Part I
From the Wingard Report, November 30th

Recently, I was asked by a well meaning Democrat to describe the difference between a Democrat and a Republican. With credit to Balint Vazsonyi, my answer was thus:

In the late 1700s two deeply and long held human desires burst into revolution: Freedom and Equality. Men wanted to be free. Men wanted an end to inequality. Over the last 200 years, it has become clear that these two fundamental aspirations are often in opposition to each other. An increase in freedom often produces inequality. An increase in equality often reduces freedom. It’s the tragic realization of the utopian vision.

This is not to say that one can only have freedom or equality. No, you can have both. But there is no perfect equilibrium. Just as a legal system must decide if it wishes to error on the side of innocence or guilt (in effect choosing which injustice it prefers), so too must a society decide whether it wishes to give preference to increasing and protecting freedom, thereby acknowledging that there will be inequality, or whether it wishes to strive for equality, thereby acknowledging that freedom will have to be curtailed to achieve this goal, often by force.

This is the central question of the modern era. There is no middle ground. Every political philosophy of the last 200 years admits a preference. This split began early, with the American Revolution choosing Freedom over Equality...the French Revolution choosing Equality over Freedom. The French Revolution (focused on "Egalité") is the mother of Marxism, Communism, Socialism, collectivism. The American Revolution (focused on "Liberty") is the mother of Capitalism, Libertarianism, 19th Century Liberalism.

And so it is that the modern Democrat Party is the heir to the desires and philosophies of the French Revolution. Dems care deeply about inequality in all its forms: economic, educational, spiritual, intellectual. Their focus is the group, the collective, the “greater good.” So it is that they advocate for government programs to balance these inequalities, higher taxes to redistribute wealth, quotas and set asides, a “right” to health care (which comes at a cost of economic freedom to others), etc. This is not to say that Dems don’t support freedom, but they tend to define “freedom” in terms of whether equity goals are being met. (If you don’t have access to basic health care, for instance, then you’re not really free.)

The modern Republican Party places a higher priority on freedom. This includes economic freedom, rights to property, to raise children according to your own beliefs, to bear arms in your own defense, et al (which all come at a cost in equality). Republicans care about equality, but they tend to define “Equality” in terms of opportunity, not results. (You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.)

Again, both sides value Freedom and Equality. But in both cases, there is a point where support for the lesser value stops. REPs stop supporting equality when it begins to erode other people’s freedoms. DEMs stop supporting freedom when it stands in the way of achieving ever greater equality.

Regulation in the pursuit of Social Justice (read "Equality") is the great debate of our time, and has only intensified over the last 100 years. The war of ideas rages on. The modern Democrat Party has been on the offense, pushing policies that curtail freedom to achieve their higher goals of eradicating or reducing inequality.

The modern Republican Party is in the defensive position, defending principles of freedom, acknowledging the inherent inequality that must result, and advocating for the personal responsibility that must accompany any such philosophy. Seen through this rubric, debates over such things as environmental laws, tax increases or tax cuts, national health care, free-trade policies, affirmative action, land use policy (just to name a few) come into clearer focus.

Who is right? Well obviously that depends on what you value most: Freedom or Equality (recognizing that we all value both). My own biased answer is that history has not been kind to those who placed equality ahead of freedom. In the end, they got neither.

NOTE: I expect the greatest argument against my theory to be raised by people who think Republican and Democrat stands on social issues such as abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia are motivated by exactly the opposite preferences that I just attributed to them. I disagree and will explain in the next issue of TWR.

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1 comment:

Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system. Health insurance is a major aspect to many.