05 September 2006

Simple Rules for Complex Times

I once heard a comedian question the allure of NASCAR. "Oh great. He's making another left turn. Oh! There he goes again."

There is something both necessary and assuring about having a choice between the right and the left when it comes to our politics. The moderate will fail to see in free markets (or, more properly, in big corporations) the answer to every problem. The moderate will also realize that the people's voice (or, more accurately, big government) isn't the answer to every problem. That is, the inclination to steer right or left should be dictated more by the road than one's preference to steer left or right. Imagine how freaked out you'd be riding with a driver who insisted that turning right was best - in spite of how the road curved.

I recently heard Rick Santorum debate his challenger, Bob Casey. One of the statements Santorum made was that he would never vote for a tax hike. Pretty extraordinary statement for a guy who has voted with Bush about 100% of the time and has, in the process, voted to raise federal spending to record levels. It's like having a limit on one's credit card bill payment but no limit on what one spends. No matter what the situation, Santorum will never veer left - no matter which way the road bends.

This might be as good of an explanation of a ideologue as any. Someone who has decided that the best response to complex times is to adhere to simple rules - regardless of the environment, conditions, or whose swimming pool he's driven into.

Although it seems alluring to have two choices that quite simply steer left or right (turn to the Democrats for solutions that call for new or improved government programs like universal health care or homeless shelters and turn to the Republicans for solutions that call for less regulation or taxation on businesses, thereby enabling more rapid and robust corporate responses to opporunities), reality is not so simple. It's true that we want to steer right or left at times, but if you closely monitor your steering you'll see that you rarely do either one for more than a few seconds. Good government, like good driving, requires a hand on the wheel that is more attuned to the road than the inclination of the driver to veer in one direction or the other.

1 comment:

Rain King said...

You ever talk to a righty about the Federal deficit? They blame the war (1/16th of the deficit), and Clinton (pick one). I had a conversation with an old neighbor, driver for FedEx. All in favor of the tax cuts in 2002 (its my money not the govt, blah, blah). Couldn't wait to get his $300 bucks, didn't care about the millions others were getting. So I said, you think these cuts will pay for themselves? Of course! So I said, then your OK with Gray Davis and the DEM state reps. running up deficits at the state level. WITHOUT noticing his own hypocrisy, he went on about wasteful government spending, etc.
So you think we should balance all budgets, including the Federal, even if we need your $300 bucks to do it? "Its my money". But your spending my kids money, aren't you? I'm not spending anything, its the, the... "Republican congress? I asked? He was done at that point.

What I am saying is, people can't think critically or tie things together and the RED strategy is to exploit that. I think there will be a natural tipping point (might be there now), but at somepoint, someone will leave their seat and say, "watching guys turn left every weekend isn't doing it for me anymore". Son I hope.