Friday, October 3, 2008

Republicans Are Name-Callers

I know what you are thinking -- isn't calling someone a "name-caller" automatically make you one yourself? The answer is no -- not if it's an accurate label -- or did I just blow your mind?

What do I mean by name-callers? I mean Republicans no longer offer arguments. Why did House Republicans say they voted down the first bill? They claim it's because Nancy Pelosi gave a partisan speech. What does McCain or Palin offer in terms of policy solutions? Tough talk and attacks on Obama. Without arguments, they are just calling people names. And the truth is, they don't have a choice. Here's why:

Part of the answer relates to why most of America thinks this current bill is all about bailing out Wall Street. The way I understand it, the issue isn't that people aren't spending or buying. The problem also isn't that big companies going bust hurts the economy. The problem, essentially, is a lack of good credit -- people can't buy or lend. And that has a ripple effect -- it hurts big business, it hurts small business, and it hurts us all. Thus, Republicans simply cannot understand the current problem. Now, yes, they can on an individual basis. But the conservative ideology cannot. The traditional conservative platform understands the economy as driven solely by demand: infuse the economy with more money (via tax cuts) and the economy does better. However, the key to this problem is that it's not about demand -- it's about credit. Credit: something that should have had government oversight and requires it now. Thus, the Republican platform can't even begin to envision the problem -- it's wholly outside their economic understanding. Consequently, Republicans can't offer arguments about the bill -- they can only call names.

Another aspect of the problem: as the world changes it becomes increasingly hard for conservatives to deny that small government is the best form of government. John McCain has been criticized from the left and the right for not being more specific about his economic plan. But what can he say? In the last 8 years of the Bush laissez-faire economy, we've seen Europe (yes, that Europe) grow faster economically than us and the EU catch up in terms of global influence. Conservatives, who used to mock those "socialist" countries, must also be aware that the dollar has become weaker and weaker against the euro (granted, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the dollar is traditionally hedged against oil).

And here's where it ties in to the VP debate: Palin may have chosen not to answer questions and repeat cliches because she's personally incapable of answering questions (see Katie Couric interview). Or: Palin can't answer questions because the Republican platform has no answer: she can only attack and offer cliches.

The fact is, as Thomas Friedman wrote recently (and I quoted previously), the modern global economy requires active governments that oversee and take advantage of cash flows that move rapidly and globally. Democrats, because they envision a helping role for the government in the economy, can offer solutions to these problems. Republicans cannot.

And finally, it's worth noting that the gaping whole in the Republican credo doesn't end with financial oversight. The myth that the freemarket cures all has been rocked. Hopefully, that leads to a similar debunking of other freemarket cure-all myths, like: trading polution points versus investing in alternative energy, vouchers versus investing in our schools, and that Reagan was cognizant during his second term.

So, next time you hear a Republican, listen to see if he is really offering an argument, or simply throwing out buzzwords: "Regan," "big government," "death tax," etc. Unless they can provide an argument, and not just a catchy phrase (which they are good at), then it's just name-calling.

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