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Growing Government: A Hobby Of Both Parties

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On Tuesday, the American public once again relived the glory days of the Bush years as Mr. WMD himself released his memoir Decision Points. Its impeccable timing was part of the “strategery” of his publishers to release it after the midterm elections for fear that the electorate might recover from its amnesia and decide to vote against the party of the wise elephant. In the book, the former president talks about his specific thinking behind the important decisions of his presidency.  In other words, his guide to “gut thinking” is finally revealed.

Beyond the immature jokes that I could make for pages about what the Economist once described as the frat-boy presidency, there is a serious point to consider from this new memoir.  Its content represents the old neo-conservative ideological motif of action thinking. Meaning, a president who acts before consulting the American people, as Republicans claim is so important now. The Patriot Act, the Bush doctrine, two nation-building wars, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and an ever expanding executive branch are all symbols of an era where action was valued over deliberate thinking.

Notice another interesting trend in this period.  Never once did the Teabaggers protest this obvious expansion of government. Never once did conservatives complain about the loss of freedom in regards to the squandering of fourth Amendment rights. Never once did conservatives cry about the deficit.

In fact I distinctly remember an interview where Darth Vader, I mean former Vice President Dick Cheney, said that “deficits don’t matter.”

Compare that to the election hysteria of 2010 where a come to Jesus consensus was apparently reached amongst the Republican caucus. Suddenly, all sins are forgiven by the American people.

Yes, with a new socialist/Muslim/Kenyan/fascist leader with a foreign middle name in the Oval Office, a clarion call was made to all those who would come to protest his government expansionist agenda. In the thousands they came to complain about the stimulus bill, Obamacare, financial regulation, and the bailouts, despite the minor historical point that Bush passed that piece of legislation. Still, the government was growing and only they could stop it.  In the meantime, Glenn Beck’s merchandise sales would skyrocket.

Fundamentally, the question remains: what is the difference between these two agendas?  Clearly, the government is interfering in the people’s lives in both cases.  It comes down to different priorities. With Republicans, the government may expand as long as it is for the purpose of security. With Democrats, the government has a responsibility to strongly regulate the economy. Actually, both could really be considered forms of socialism.

Justin Logan noted on the National Interest, a foreign affairs journal, blog, “Military Keynesianism has long been a centerpiece in the Republican platform, and it still is. I have remarked at this phenomenon before on Cato’s blog, noting that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has railed against all manner of spending except military spending, deeming the latter “good spending.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Virginia has been one of the largest and most disproportionate beneficiaries of military and intelligence spending, with defense spending accounting for one in five Virginia jobs according to the “Washington Post“.”

The main point that I want to make is how expanding government is obviously a problem on both sides. It is nonsensical to call one side a socialist expansionist, but then turn around and do the same action with a different type of spending. Furthermore, calling each other names as divisive as “socialist” brings up darker connotations about a politician’s other stances.

So in the next election cycle, both parties should remember their own transgressions with government growth. In these terms, the stark choice between both parties does not seem all that apparent. For the next election cycle, voters might want to remember this little tidbit of information before heading into the voting booth.

To read more commentary by John Stang check out his blog called “The Independent Internationalist.”  Also, check out his new radio show by the same name on WRKE 100.3 FM on Wednesdays from 1:30-3:00 p.m.  His opinions do not reflect those of the Brackety-Ack.