In America we tout our two-party system as the best political system in the world. The idea is that the opposing parties balance each other and put a check on each other. Andrew Jackson was the first ‘Democratic’ president and Abraham Lincoln was the first ‘Republican’ president. Those early parties bear absolutely no resemblance to the Conservative and Liberal parties of today. It is a commonly held belief that both parties have their good points and bad points and the system over time will result in a balance for the good. This is not the case today even if it were true in earlier times. Here I will argue something that, to my knowledge, has never been put forth, and that is that one of our two major parties is on the wrong side of virtually every argument and conversely the other major party is on the right side of virtually every argument. Let’s examine some of these arguments.
Conservatives argue that lower taxes boost the economy, and by lower taxes they mean for wealthy individuals and corporations. What lower taxes actually do is transfer wealth from the poor and the middle class to the wealthy, thereby increasing the degree of wealth inequality. They increase the national debt, they take money away from education, infrastructure, healthcare, and energy development. Wealth lobbies congress to pass legislation to lower its taxes. Conservatives are on the wrong side of the taxation argument.
Liberals argue that wealthy individuals and corporations should pay 50% with a tiered structure for less wealthy and less profitable entities, the way it was in the 50’s and 60’s. The increased revenue would go for education, infrastructure, healthcare, energy and paying down the national debt. Liberals are not beholden to wealth in passing legislation. Liberals are on the right side of the taxation argument.
Conservatives argue that social security is unsustainable and must be cut and/or privatized. They do not believe it can be saved without taxing wealth, which they refuse to do. They have no answer when asked what would happen to the millions who depend on it, many of whom ignorantly vote conservative. Conservatives are on the wrong side of the social security argument.
Liberals believe that social security must and can be sustained and expanded with higher taxes on wealth. They realize what conservatives have forgotten or ignore, that social security is our insurance policy against economic depression. It was invented for that purpose and continues to serve that purpose. Liberals are on the right side of the social security argument.
Conservatives want to cut welfare as an entitlement that makes people dependent on the government, and argue that it creates a permanent underclass. They forget that half of the people on welfare are children who are innocent victims of poverty. They are blind and deaf to the argument that hugely increased spending on universal education would solve the welfare problem in one generation. Conservatives are on the wrong side of the welfare argument.
Liberals believe in expanding welfare along with enforcement of welfare to work, (a law already on the books but not implemented), along with hugely increased spending on education, paid for by wealth, to solve the welfare problem in one generation. Liberals are on the right side of the welfare argument.
Conservatives want to cut Medicare and Medicaid, arguing that it cannot be paid for over the long run. Again they do not believe taxes should be raised on wealth to pay for health care. They believe that healthcare should remain privatized and that the free market healthcare system will take care of everyone. Well it never has and it never will. The free market healthcare system is why healthcare is such a disaster in America. There are members of congress who actually believe and openly say that people who can’t pay for healthcare don’t deserve it! Conservatives are clearly on the wrong side of the healthcare argument.
Liberals believe in Medicare for all (single payer), paid for, as in other countries, by higher taxes, especially on wealth. They believe government has to provide equal healthcare benefits for all, regardless of their ability to pay. The argument that this is ‘socialized medicine’ is juvenile. ‘Socialized’ is just a label. What is important is what the system accomplishes, not what it is called. Liberals are on the right side of the healthcare argument.
Conservatives want to defund public schools and give vouchers for private schools to parents who do not want their children to have to go to school with children of color. Conservatives believe in government funding of ‘charter’ schools, which are not subject to the rules of the state school system where they are located, in other words, not required to be integrated. They want to take us back to the days before Brown vs the board of education. Conservatives are on the wrong side of the education argument.
Liberals believe that integrated public schools are the way to educate children, and that vouchers for charter schools are an outrage. It is the right of parents to send their children to private schools, as long as they fully pay for it. Liberals believe that government should focus far greater funds on public schools, raising teacher salaries, and reducing class sizes. Liberals are on the right side of the education argument.
Conservatives believe the second amendment gives people the right to carry any gun, anywhere, anytime. They believe that strict gun laws will not reduce the number of gun deaths, in contradiction to the low rate of gun deaths in countries with strict gun laws. They believe that more guns in the hands of people would result in fewer gun deaths and less crime. They believe that gun deaths are the price of our freedom, a ludicrous argument. They believe wrongly that, with strict gun laws, they will lose the right to own any gun. Conservatives are on the wrong side of the gun control argument.
Liberals believe the second amendment does not give citizens the unlimited right to keep and bear arms, but it does allow the state to keep and maintain a militia, the National Guard. Liberals stand for restrictions on guns that are in effect in countries with far fewer gun deaths. Some of these are a complete ban on all semi-automatic and automatic pistols and rifles, mandatory background checks on all gun purchases, a national registry on all guns, and a license required for any gun ownership. Liberals are on the right side of the gun control argument.
Conservatives believe a free market competitive capitalism, unburdened by government regulation, creates the greatest opportunity and highest standard of living for all. They believe both in low taxes and, in contradiction to that, a minimal government debt. They still believe that by transferring wealth to the top, jobs will be created and benefits will ‘tickle’ down to the majority. They believe that a federal budget heavily weighted to defense and business and weighted away from ‘entitlement’ and education is best. They do not believe in a minimum wage, they do not believe in the right for labor to bargain collectively for a fairer share of the American wealth. They believe that companies have a right to hire illegals with impunity, but that these illegals have no rights themselves. Conservatives are on the wrong side of the economy argument.
Liberals believe a capitalistic market system regulated by government is best. They believe government must protect citizens from the greed of big business. Unlike the private sector, government can and should be motivated by public interest. Government regulation in all areas of the economy is necessary for universal fairness. Liberals stand for raising the minimum wage, they believe in labor’s right to bargain collectively, they want a federal budget that slowly pays down the national debt, expands social security, expands Medicare to cover all, and is weighted more heavily toward education, infrastructure, and renewable energy. For such a budget to be feasible, taxes would have to be raised, and that mean raising taxes on wealth. Liberals are on the right side of the economy argument.
Conservatives want to continue to grow the fossil fuel industry and claim not to believe the scientific evidence that greenhouse emissions and fracking are having a significantly negative impact on the environment. They believe oil drilling should be increased on land and at sea. Their opinion is that wind and solar energy will never provide plentiful, affordable sources of power. They want to increase American jobs in fossil fuels to provide easy and immediate growth to the economy even though these benefits cannot last in the long term, rather than investing in job creation in the renewable energy industry that will last. They make these arguments because they are in the pockets of the oil industry. Conservatives are on the wrong side of the energy argument.
Liberals believe that climate change is real and that fossil fuel emissions are likely the main cause of it. They know oil and natural gas are depleting resources and that renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar, must be explored on a large scale. The government must produce a national plan for all renewable energy resources and subsidize (partially pay for) research and production. Liberals believe the scientific consensus on climate change and the effects of greenhouse emissions. Most scientists agree the main cause of global warming is the ‘greenhouse effect.’ Sunlight passes through the atmosphere and warms the earth’s surface. This heat is radiated back toward space. Most of the outgoing heat is absorbed by greenhouse gas molecules and re-emitted in all directions, much of it back toward earth warming the surface and the lower atmosphere. The liberals believe that until some brilliant engineer figures out a way to take these greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, we earthlings have to drastically reduce our production of these gases. Liberals are on the right side of the energy argument.
Conservatives argue that life begins at conception. They believe abortion is murder. Some of these conservatives justify murder of physicians who perform abortions. Conservatives oppose tax-payer funded abortion. It is a religious and ‘moral’ argument that is hypocritical, and here is why. If a conservative’s daughter or granddaughter insisted on an abortion, for whatever reason, and she could not be persuaded against it, and abortions were strictly illegal, this ‘conservative’ would drive the daughter or granddaughter to Canada for a safe and legal abortion. That is just one hypocrisy of the conservative argument. Conservatives are on the wrong side of the abortion argument.
Liberals believe that a woman has the right to decide what happens with her body. The government should provide taxpayer funded abortions for women who cannot afford them. The decision to have an abortion is a personal choice of a woman regarding her own body and the government must protect this right. Unwanted children, for one, is a serious problem , but what ever the woman’s reason, it is her right to have an abortion. Liberals are on the right side of the abortion argument.
We could go on but the point has been made. All of this is not to say that we need a one party system, on the contrary, we need a two party system, but it is hard to imagine how todays conservative party could be persuaded to become more sensible short of a political revolution. During Eisenhower’s presidency (republican/conservative) taxes were high, infrastructure and education were top priorities, so it has not always been this way. The major factors in this unfortunate evolution of our political system are:
The advent of civil rights
White hatred of the browning of America
The buying of our politics by the wealthy.