Saturday, June 16, 2007

Is there a Difference between Democrats and Republicans?

I saw an interview of Nancy Pelosi last night. Ms. Pelosi was discussing the Iraqi War. She stated that the Bush administration should not defend the elected Iraqi government and instead limit the military to fighting terrorism. It is difficult for me to understand Ms. Pelosi's point. There is a fine line between fighting terrorism and supporting the Iraqi government. While Ms. Pelosi claims that her position is a major departure from President Bush's, the difference seems vacuous.

Is there a difference between Democrats and Republicans? In the late 18th and 19th centuries there was a debate between federalists and anti-federalists. The federalists, led by Hamilton, were elitist. They believed in central banking, supported the interests of the wealthy and believed in limiting democracy. In contrast, the anti-federalists, led by Jefferson, opposed a central bank (what today is the Federal Reserve Bank), believed in maximizing democracy and believed in supporting the common man, who was a farmer. The Jeffersonian anti-federalists were often more racist than the federalists. Ultimately, the Jeffersonians were allied with early labor unions (and the Workingmen's Parties) but also with the southern "slave power".

Through their successors, the Whigs and then the Republicans, the federalists allied business and northern religious interests, northern farmers and abolitionists. The anti-federalists, through the Democrats, allied labor interests, the white working class of big northern cities like New York, southern interests and the "slave power".

Today, it would seem that the federalists have won a complete victory for two reasons. First of all, central banking is no longer debated, although it ought to be. The public has accepted the Keynesian monetary project.

Second, the New Deal reinvigorated the federalist concept that an elite was necessary for the US economy to work. In the progressives' view, the elite is comprised of university-trained experts. But the knowledge that enables such experts to make decisions has never been specified. The reason is that it does not exist. Business schools have multiplied in number, but competence to manage the New York City subways, for example, has eluded both Democrats and Republicans for seven decades.

What struck me about Ms. Pelosi was that she evinced no indication of the slightest grasp of military strategy or anything else relevant to the War in Iraq, but she is entirely convinced that she is expert concerning it. Is Ms. Pelosi's arrogance peculiar to the Democrats, or do both the Republicans and the Democrats implicitly favor Pelosian elitism? Are both parties alternative versions of neo-federalism?

Both favor inflationary Federal Reserve policies. More than $10 trillion have gone gone into circulation around the globe, with less than $2 trillion in circulation here in the US. We are sitting on an inflationary time bomb. With demand for stocks inelastic because of loose credit, companies have followed easy, low-risk cost strategies of moving jobs overseas to to nudge up stock prices, inflating executive compensation but leaving average Americans feeling alienated. Jefferson would turn in his grave.

Both parties favor regulation. The Democrats say they do, the Republicans say they don't, but after three Republican presidents and a decade and a half of a Republican Congress there is as much regulation now as there was under Jimmy Carter. Since 1980, government has markedly expanded in cost and scope.

The difference is that the Democrats would have unemployed American workers dependent on them for welfare, while the Republicans would have underemployed American workers working for Wendy's. Both are willing to support policies that encourage home buyers to borrow five times their annual incomes to purchase homes; both oppose policies that would permit Americans to keep their paychecks to pay cash for their homes.

It is difficult for me to see the difference.


A Jacksonian said...

From what I have read of the origins of the Federalist/Anti-Federalist views, it was based on the differing views on how to get a more cohesive government without endangering the Confederalist concepts that first attempted to make the Nation after the founding via the Articles of Confederation. One of the largest problems that the Anti-Federalist decried, beyond concentration of power is the lack of true representative democracy in the House of Representatives. The warnings given then, now ring solidly true today, and I wrote on that with: The Warnings of the Founding Generation.

One of the major selling points from the Federalist side was that the federal form given would be: limited, transparent and need to vote regularly on even having an Army. It is most telling that it was Hamilton, of all people, who put forth that if *this system* ran amok, then the cure for it was to disband Federal Government and each *county* to be declared a State and to start over. I looked at that in: What is the bedrock of the Republic?

The argument for the Central Bank grew out of that original set of disparate views, and it is more than interesting to see where modern conservatism is today on the question of liberty and freedom pitted against that of business and that of Andrew Jackson who vetoed the Second National Bank and gave firm reasons for why such a thing should be done by putting human liberty and freedom ahead of mere business interests. That I look at in two posts: Modern conservatism and where it isn't and, with additional views by Teddy Roosevelt in Dithering and where it leaves us.

This outlook of restricted Federal Government continued on throughout the 19th century, but was changed by the Progressive movement that would see the culmination of its outlook in the early 20th century. I looked at that in The 10 years that changed the path of America, and do a quick examination of the expansion of Federal Power over that period and the seismic change in American Foreign Policy based on those shifts. What America *was* changed in hard and fast ways in that 10 year period and it was towards more efficient government that would be manageable... thus missing the whole point of democracy being an interplay of the ideas and ideals of the people it represents which can never BE efficient nor manageable. We would see later views in the 20th century of just what efficient and manageable democracy would look like with Communism and Fascism. Unfortunately those systems have not served as major warning signs to Americans on our own system of government that now stumbles onwards to becoming, as Mark Steyn put it, "Incumbistan".

Phil Orenstein said...

Seems to be an accurate perspective. But today's Republican congressmen, the President and state lawmakers have become corrupt, statist, weak and have alienated the fiscal conservative base of the party. It's time to overthrow the crusty old elites of the party and bring the party back to the principles you talk about. But, no hope for the Democrats, by far the biggest central planners, with their global warming hoax, universal health care, welfare programs, nanny state (eg Bloomberg, NYC RINO) - the greatest threats to our liberties and free markets.

A Jacksonian said...

It is to be remembered that Nations have trade between them conducted by companies and individuals. Not companies and individuals conducting the trade of the Nation. To put that power into the hands of the few, and to have no accountability for trade to the Nation is just as bad, just as elitist and, in the end, just as horrific as the route of the Progressivists.

Trade is a creation of man amongst men and is accountable to Nations. We now have companies and foreign individuals setting a de facto Immigration Policy that Congress looks to rubber-stamp. I did not vote for that, and I adhere to the idea that Laws are created by men, amongst men so as to have a Nation and have Treaties between Nations. Liberty and freedom needs a social and societal framework that is provided by Nations... not by companies and 'feel good' NGOs that are *also* accountable to no Nation nor People.

Nationalism has been highly denigrated by the Left and, seemingly, forgotten by the Right. It is more than just support of one's Nation, but a support of the system of Nation States. That is horrifically worrying as our liberty and freedoms depend upon that internal part of the Nation State system, along with external reciprocity and accountability between Nations. No Empire has ever afforded its peoples full freedom and liberty: it has always been handed down from that elite structure. And, as most folks on this poor little Rock of ours are not all too enlightened about this concept of rights coming from individuals as a source, any attempt to impose the more enlightened concept will meet with failure. Understanding comes from within in outwards, not pummeled from the outside inwards. Thus, Nation States remain the only way to support liberty and freedom for individuals within their Nations.

Today we have a crisis in confidence as the restricted, hemmed in and demeaned process of democracy is teetering badly. The solution of the Founders is always to break down such government and spread democracy outwards as a concept within the Nation and *start over*. It may come to that: either direct support withdrawal of representatives and senators as no longer representing their States, Constitutional Convention called by one or more governors, or that quite hard 'option three', which was started in 1775. We agreed to lay our passions aside and form common government. Government no longer rules for the common man, but for itself.

That is tyranny, where government rules over the people and for itself *first*. And the warnings of 1787 from *both* the Federalist and Anti-Federalist are clear on that. And that tone of freedom is as sweet now as it was then... let us hope that some way of reason can be found to restore it, lest the muskets get picked up again and the cry of:

"No taxation without Representation"

is heard in the land once more.